“You lost me.” This is how a lot of 20-somethings feel with respect to the church. In a recent podcast, David Kinnaman, President of Barna Group and author of You Lost Me shared information about this new generation and why they are leaving the church. Here is some (part 1 of 2) of what he imparted in this podcast, as it pertains to parenting:
When speaking about this new generation, he described them as post-institutional. They have lost faith in the institutions of marriage, education, government and yes, church. When they leave the home, many will leave the church too, but not their faith in Jesus. A small percentage will leave their faith altogether. But about half will find themselves stuck between culture and Christianity. They may occasionally go to church, believe in God and Jesus, but not find a way to live out that faith in the prevailing anti-religious culture. As parents, it is our job to help them navigate these waters while they are still in our care. We want our kids to be so glued to God that they can’t imagine another way.
Here are some ideas to keep them from getting “lost.”
Be clear about your beliefs and share them with your family. Discuss them often. Allow questions, discussion, and different opinions, but be clear about where you stand personally. If you are uncertain about your faith, spend some time talking with a pastor, your spouse or another trusted adult. You do not have to have all the answers, you just need to know what matters most to you and share it with those you love.
Integrate God into your daily life. When you have tough decisions, share them as prayer requests with your family. Talk about your wrestlings with God over tough issues. Point out the times God helps you or when prayers are answered. Ask your kids what they need you to pray about for them. If you make your faith part of your everyday life, it will become reality for your kids. As Kinnaman put it, “People don’t leave things that are real.” Show them faith is personal, it’s about a relationship with Jesus, it’s a way of life.
Explain church. Many tend to think of “the church” as some big amoeba that rolls around making decisions and laying down doctrine. When in reality, the church is made up of a bunch of people; flawed, imperfect, human beings. They make bad decisions and good ones. Sometimes they offer the love of Christ, and sometimes they don’t. Explain how your church works and how decisions are made. Teach your kids that God calls us to live in community with other Christ-followers. We need the institution of church, but it is still just a bunch of people doing their best to share the love of Christ.
Next week, I’ll share what we need to embed in our kids, how we need to equip them, and what we parents need to embrace.