Did you know that 60% of young people raised in the church will walk away from it by the time they are adults? I don’t know about you, but as a mom of five kids, that gives my heart quite the pause. That would mean that statistically 3 of my 5 children are likely to walk away from Jesus. I think most of us hear these kinds of statistics and assume they are referring to everyone else’s kids, not ours, but there is danger in assuming our children are safe.
To my joy, I see most of the parents in my age bracket on Facebook forums and mom’s groups talking about things like:
“What kind of books should we use for devotions?”
“How do I teach my kids to pray?”
And yet, we are faced with the jarring statistic: 60%!
What happened to the devotions Johnny loved? What changed and made Suzy decide it wasn’t what she wanted?
There seems to be a good understanding that we need to teach our kids the truths of the Bible. And yes, please don’t misunderstand me here: it is critical to teach our kids about Jesus and the Bible. However, if we merely pass down information, instead of modeling for them what it looks like to follow Jesus, we have done them a great disservice.
What do I mean? Do our lives make sense in light of the Bible? Do our kids see that all the things we have taught them are real because our lives show it?
If we tell our kids that Jesus has died on the cross to save the whole world from their sins, do they see us sharing such amazing news with others? Are we burdened to share the good news of Jesus to the lost around us (1 Corinthians 9:16)?
If we tell them the Bible is God’s Word and it teaches us everything we need to know, do they see us living our lives by it (Psalm 119)? Do they see us devouring its words during the week, clinging to its promises when we are struggling, and using it to defeat the sins we are wrestling with?
If we tell our kids that our lives are not about here and now but about eternity with Jesus, do they see that (Matthew 10:37-39)? Are we living for all the pleasure, comfort, and joy the world has to offer or do they see us willing to sacrifice, persevere, and give everything we have in order to follow Jesus?
If we tell them prayer is an amazing blessing we have as believers to approach the God of the universe with our praise and requests, do they see us as people of prayer? Are we people who rely on God’s power in our life rather than our own?
Do we love our neighbor as ourselves (Luke 10:27)? Do we even talk to our neighbors?
Do they see that Jesus is more to us than cute stories and church on Sunday? Do we teach them that following Jesus isn’t an easy road full of comfort and material blessings, but rather a race that takes perseverance, hard work, and focusing on the goal so that we don’t lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3)?
Do they see that our faith impacts everything we do from how we spend our free time each night to how we talk and dress? Our young people will be better equipped to stand firm in our increasingly dark world if we, as parents, remember one thing: God commanded us to make disciples.
Making disciples is more than passing on knowledge. The word disciple means “follower.” How did Jesus make his twelve disciples? He did life with them for three years. Yes, he taught them many things. But what else went on those three years that aren’t recorded in the Bible? Life! They watched how Jesus lived. They got to witness everything he said and did, how he spent his time, how he treated those around him, how much time he spent in prayer. Ultimately, they saw how Jesus’ life wrapped around the mission God had given him. They watched him live his life and ultimately lose his life for the purpose God had for him.
And what happens after Jesus goes into heaven? Those twelve men, equipped and emboldened by the Holy Spirit, follow Jesus’ example and go make disciples. After all they had seen and heard, nothing else in the world mattered as much as sharing the Good News with those around them.
That’s what I want for my kids. I want them to step out on their own one day, having seen that Jesus not only meant something to my husband and I, but was the very centerpiece of everything we did in our lives. I want them to step out the same way Jesus’ disciples did – boldly equipped by the Holy Spirit and on mission for Jesus Christ.
The life you are living right now is ultimately what you are “discipling” to your children. So, if they were (or are) old enough to give a quick synopsis of what “mom loves” what would they say? I want to challenge each of us today to take an honest look at our own lives and our family’s priorities and see if they make sense in light of the Bible. Just because they seem normal in our world, or even in the Christian sub-culture, doesn’t mean they make sense in light of the Bible.
So, what do we do if they don’t make sense? Don’t turn to Satan’s tools of guilt, shame, discouragement, or denial.
Follow God’s path:
Ask him for forgiveness.
Trust that in Jesus you are truly forgiven and made new.
Then, dive into his Word and let it seep into your soul.
Because when God’s Word burns bright inside your heart, it is impossible to keep it from pouring out into your life. That’s the way it works. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. If we are filled to overflowing by the Word of God; if we are overwhelmed by the mercy and grace of God; if we are focused on our eternity with Jesus and the multitudes of lost around us, then the world’s distractions, temptations and pleasures lose their luster. Our lives start to change and make sense because we realize that Jesus isn’t some facts and cute stories to pass on to our kids. No, he’s our life and joy both now and for all eternity.
There is a war for our kids! Let’s rise up and willingly lay down our lives for the sake of Jesus. Let’s stake everything on the fact that God is who he says he is and nothing will ever compare to knowing him. Let’s actively disciple our children, not to know mere facts, but to see that Jesus is worth it and that he has a purpose for each one of them!