We see the numbers of kids who are walking away from the church when they get out on their own.
We read the data about more and more kids adapting a secular worldview.
We hear reports that 13% of Gen Z kids say they are atheists.
What used to be called sin, is being accepted and approved by the next generation.
We often blame the culture for leading children away from the faith and Hollywood is considered an evil influence that wrecks kids' faith.
We blame schools and colleges for teaching the opposite of what Christianity is about.
We even blame parents because of their lack of commitment to pass along the faith to their children.
While some of these things can and do contribute to the demise of a child's faith, the church must also look in the mirror and see that we are a big part of the problem. We are failing kids in many areas and it becomes glaringly apparent as they grow older.
The church is failing to teach kids doctrine. We're teaching them to be good. We are teaching them to do good. We're teaching them character traits. But we're not teaching them doctrine. We're not teaching them about the Trinity. We're not teaching them what baptism is. We're not teaching them that the Bible is the Word of God. We're not teaching them what the Gospel is. It's hard to defend and share what you don't know or understand.
The church is failing kids by not giving them opportunities to serve. We've forgotten that "faith without works is dead." We are taking kids who are anxious and ready to serve and telling them that their time will come...that they have to wait until they are grown to start serving. The problem with this is that when they grow up, since we didn't give them opportunities to serve as children, they want no part of it when they are older.
The church is failing kids by not teaching them how to walk with God. We are not placing the tools in their hands and showing them how to use them. They are ready to move past the spiritual baby food we've been giving them.
The church is failing kids by not teaching them why we believe what we believe. We are failing to take kids on a "deeper dive." Their shallow faith has nothing of substance underneath the fluff. When they get to college and their faith is tested, it becomes glaringly obvious they can't back up what they believe.
The church is failing to disciple kids through relationships. We are shoving them in rooms with dozens of other kids where they will not have the opportunity to develop a relationship with a caring leader and other kids.
The church is failing to teach kids that the Bible is God's Word. They can't back up the claims that the Bible is inspired and infallible.
The church is failing to help kids enter a relationship with Jesus. We know that the vast majority of people who come to Christ do so before they are 18. We don't have a strategic plan like Starting Point to reach them.
The church is failing to show kids how to share their faith. We haven't given them the tools and infused them with the confidence that God is with them when they share the Gospel with others.
The church is failing to help kids see that it's not about them...it's about bringing honor and glory to God. We've unknowingly taught kids that God is a divine therapist that exists for our pleasure.
The church is failing kids by not equipping their parents to lead them spiritually. We know parents are the number one influencer in kids' lives. They want to lead their children spiritually...they just don't know how. We've failed to give them simple, easy to use tools for this.
The church is failing to help kids develop a Biblical worldview. Because of this, the next generation has bought into the postmodern worldview that holds up the mantra for tolerance, pantheism, abortion, same sex relationships, don't judge anyone and more.
The church is failing to help parents see how important it is to have their children in church consistently. Church attendance has become just another item on a to-do-list. If nothing else is going on, they will show up for church. But if there's something that's more appealing, they will skip church. As a result, kids have shallow Biblical knowledge and are only loosely connected at church.
I don't want this article to be discouraging for those reading it. I simply want to wake up churches that are failing their kids. We can't keep doing the same old same old and expect kids to follow Jesus for a lifetime.
I would encourage you to take each of the failings I listed and sit down as a team. Talk through these points and see how your church can improve in these areas. It may mean some radical changes. It may mean a new ministry philosophy. It may mean changing your strategy. It may mean asking some hard questions and pursuing the answers you find.
I am reminded of what happened in the Old Testament.
After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the LORD or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel. -Judges 2:10
The next generation didn't remember or know God. Why? Because those who should have been teaching them neglected to do so.
Those walking in our footprints are counting on us. Let's not let them down.