Even though leaving high school, for me, was more than 10 years ago now, I remember it well. Hindsight is always 20/20 and looking back, I know for a fact that I was a naive know-it-all who, in reality, knew nothing at all.
Unlike many of my peers, I went straight from Christian school to Bible school. I skipped any form of public high school/secular college completely. By the time I finished my first semester in Bible school, I knew I had so much left to learn. Even though I had grown up in church, attended Christian school the whole way up, and was actively involved in outreach programs, my first semester of Bible school was an eye-opener about how little I truly knew about God, His Word, and what it means to live for Christ.
How sad, isn’t it? To have that much influence in my young life and yet to go into the world and feel unprepared… it blows my mind even now. This isn’t to say that I didn’t have some great mentors in my life – on the contrary, I had some of the best! But, for some reason, a lot of the teaching I received remained fairly rudimentary and superficial.
We watched “God’s Not Dead” last night for the first time. While the premise was good and I thought the movie was well-done, it begs the question: Are the young people we are raising up in the church prepared to defend their faith by the time they graduate?
I have a purpose statement for the kid’s min at our church and it concludes with talking about wanting to give them “a firm foundation that can be built upon” when they enter youth group. Every change I’ve made this year in the different programs centers on that premise. They must have a firm foundation – anything less simply won’t stand.
My goal is to not just raise a generation of children in the church who are good church attenders and can win Bible drills and spout off a bunch of good verses. My goal is to help them make their faith their own. Why do we believe the Bible is true? Why is important to make good choices? Why do we want to live for God? What good is the Bible in every day life? Where did the Bible even come from?
Kids are growing up far too passive when it comes to church and God. It’s an extra-curricular – if we make it, great! If not, no big deal, we’ll come again next week. The stories are too familiar; the verses are just rote repetitions for prizes. Where is the heart in all of this? God doesn’t care how quickly we can find a verse. He cares about deeply we apply it to our lives.
The main character in “God’s Not Dead” obviously knew his material when he defended his faith. My fear is that we’re raising an entire generation of kids who wouldn’t know the first answer if someone questioned them about the core of their faith. My fear is that they will leave the safety of the church building and succumb to the culture surrounding them because their foundation won’t be strong enough and it’ll crumble under the pressure. I fear that our kids and teens have no clue – and simply don’t care – about why they believe what they believe.
This must change.
We must begin to bring “church” – fellowship, community, learning – back to the forefront of our families. We must lead by example and make God number one priority in all we do with our children. Baseball practice is Wednesday night? Sorry kiddo, church is more important than being able to hit a ball in third grade. Football game Sunday morning? Well kid, let’s see how well your team does without you because you need to be in church with the family. That extra-curricular is going to interfere with church attendance for a solid month? Not worth it – your spiritual well-being is eternal.
When will we stop making church optional for our children and teens and start showing them – by example – that it’s a priority? When will we stop “living for the dot” and start “living for the line”? If you don’t know the phrase, watch the video at the end by Francis Chan. He doesn’t use that phrase – that’s one that was used in cultural training that has stuck with me – but it’s the same idea.
The fall programs at our church begin on September 7 and I just feel burdened more than ever for the kids that will attend. I don’t want them just to come, sit in class, and go home. I want to see visible change in their lives. I want them to walk away with the full-on knowledge that God is REAL – He is NOT dead – and that their lives need to reflect this truth in all they do.
While I somehow doubt that college freshman with no Bible school under their belt will all graduate with as much knowledge as the main guy in “God’s Not Dead”, the goal has been set before us. Their faith must be their own. Their faith must have a solid foundation. Their faith must begin while they’re young.
Here’s the video I was talking about. Take it to heart and think it through. Priorities are what our lives revolve around, so what are yours? And how are those priorities affecting the family you’re raising?