We raised our kids in church and sent them to a Christian school. Now that they're teenagers they want nothing to do with Christianity. What should we do?
There’s an easy trap, when it comes to Christian parenting, to fall into. And that is to think that if we create an environment that exposes our kids to church, and we read the Bible, and we put them in a Christian school, and we have what we call a Christian home, that they are just going to embrace all this stuff, and they are going to go on into life and go through their teenage years just fine.
Well, we have got to be careful that we don’t misunderstand what it takes to really build a heart for God into children. Because, it’s not so much what you put in their head, it’s what ends up in their heart that makes a difference.
And I’ve noticed that there are three tragic problems with kids that are brought up in Christian homes. And I want to list them, but before I do, I want to qualify something. I’m not saying you don’t want to raise your kids in a Christian environment. That’s the best environment they could be in. But understand that there are some tradeoffs, and if we’re not careful, and we don’t know what we’re doing, and we’re not savvy on this, we could find our kids falling away from God.
One thing I’ve observed is that many kids brought up in Christian homes oftentimes don’t think that God is as real as He is. And that’s because God has been part of the climate of their home for so long that He’s kind of like a cliché, He’s taken for granted. It’s like the wallpaper that surrounds us in our bathroom. You know, most people could not just draw out the wallpaper that was in the bathroom as a kid, and they saw it every day. So, they don’t think that God is as real as He is.
Secondly, they don’t think that sin is as bad as it is. That’s because we worked overtime to make sure that they are not exposed to a lot of sin, and so it can be almost like wet paint for them. They are either naïve about it and they are easily drawn in to it, or they are enticed by it.
So, they don’t think that God is as real as He is. They don’t think that sin is as bad as it is, and the third thing is, they don’t think.
See, one of the problems of being raised in a Christian home is that we parents have a bad habit of doing all the thinking for the kids. We give them the answers to the questions they haven’t even had to wrestle with.
And that’s why, when I think of raising kids, there are two things that I think really help move the environment of a Christian life from the head to the heart.
And the first thing is, you raise your kids in a way that they are exposed to a lost world. Now, I’m not saying to throw them to the wolves, but if you raise them in a cordon off, hermetically sealed spiritual environment, that’s a great way for them to find out that sin isn’t as bad as it is, or that God isn’t as real as He is.
So, you want to let them see you live on the battlefield, and as they get older, let them move into the battlefield themselves, and stand for God where they have to appropriate their faith.
But there is a second thing, and that is, you need to get your kids serving others. You need to get them serving others, right out of the box. Because a lot of kids live in a Christian environment, but they never get squeezed. They never have to take any of this stuff and do anything with it.
You put your kids out there in the frontlines, and then you get them serving others, when they are focused upwards and outwards from day one, you know what? Your kids are going to be fine. They are going to stick with it, because it’s going to be down in their heart. It’s going to be theirs.