How often in our secular society do we hear the argument against any kind of Bible study or Biblicaly based subjects such as literature, social studies or science in schools that “Christian teaching belongs in the church and at home”?
I’ve heard it quite often over the years, and on the Christian side of things, I’ve heard the parental partial argument for sending kids to public school as some kind of witnessing tool, to bring light into the darkness of the government school system.
Kids in the US spend on average 900 hours per year in school. Multiply that by 11 years (not counting kindergarten) and you get 9900 hours of public education by the time they are 18. Obviously this doesn’t include sick days. Contrast that for Christian kids who typically spend about 2 hours every Sunday at church, and maybe another 2 hours on Wednesday nights for kid’s Bible studies and youth group activities. Stretched out over the same 18 year period Christian kids average about 700 hours of Church related teaching and activities (and that’s being generous).
This isn’t a rant about pushing Christianity in schools, or even a debate about public education, but more of a ‘food for thought’ about how hard it is for Christian kids to maintain a strong and healthy walk in their faith, and to reinforce the foundations that they have when they fly out of their parent’s nest. Face it, it’s hard enough for most Christian adults to maintain a Christ like life, or “live out loud” for their faith. The same parents who suggest their kids are witnesses at school are many times the same who are not witnessing to co workers.
Christian kids who leave home to attend college face a lot of pressure from not only fellow students but professors and also from their work place. Is it any wonder why many who described themselves as born again during their freshman year, almost half no longer describe themselves that way once they graduate? Many polls and studies have come out over the past decade, and while there are many variants and breakdowns of reasons and opinions, the rate of Christian believers going into College is a lot higher than those when they leave.
It’s not necessarily that Christian kids are losing their religion, or turning into atheists, although some do (one would argue that they were real believers to begin with) but that they are more socially minded than Biblical in their world views. While many remain believers, others leave the faith, only to find it again later in life (that’s what happened with me) and still others turn to other ideologies and religions which suit their beliefs more than what Christianity has ‘taught’ them. Many drift away from church because life gets in the way, or they don’t see the valued connect between a strong Bible believing church and life. Still others find that their faith is incompatible with what they’ve been taught in high school and college, especially when it comes to science, social studies and critical thinking.
So, back to that number of hours spent in Sunday school growing up, and how kids (even some of us oldsters) were taught in our youth about Christ, and Christian living.
I guess I can’t really compare since I didn’t attend church in my teens and had never gone to youth groups, only Sunday school. I do remember though that parents were encouraged to have their kids in “grown up church” and our Sunday school classes were not held during the church services. A lot of churches I’ve attended as an adult, I’ve noticed that there seems to be more separations between adult service and kids service, and that families aren’t really encouraged to sit together during the sermon. I remember being read to, the stories of the Bible greats such as Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David & Goliath… and I remember stories and songs about Jesus, and Yes Jesus Loves Me… for the Bible tells me so. I just don’t remember being told the why’s, how’s, and where’s.
When my son was little, I was determined to go to church, and wanted him to have a firm foundation- not just at home, but also in a church. Yet I saw the same stories, same songs, and same generalization being taught to him as I was. Now there’s nothing wrong with being taught the Bible stories and the characters, how they obeyed or disobeyed with consequences and how much Jesus loves us, but what seems to be missing, is the relevance in our lives, and the connection between the stories, people and God, and how He moves and relates in our lives. Sunday school tends to be focused on the basics, but kids need so much more than basics today given the challenges they encounter as they hit their teens and early 20s I guess what I am driving at is that they need apolgetics courses geared for their ages as they get older- at least by the age of 10 as studies suggest the average age kids start drifting away from their faith by the age of 13. They also need to learn what it is to live a Christian life in a secular world, and to understand the difference between a world view and a Christian world view. They need to learn how to connect what they are taught and it relates to their own lives along with the world around them, why evil exists, why the need for redemption and salvation, and that truth is truth for all time, that there is no such thing moral relativity.
As Christian parents, it’s our responsibility to reinforce what they learn in church, but also to live our faith in front of them in our every day lives. It’s hard, but kids see our actions and words a lot more than we give them credit for. It’s important for church leaders to live their preaching as well, as teens and young adults definitely mention hypocrisy as one of the factors of their leaving the Christian faith.
I’m really not sure who this article is geared towards out of those who comment here every day. I know that folks here are strong in their faith, encouraging to each other in the faith and help each other learn. Maybe it’s for our younger folks to give them a bit of encouragement as they move into adulthood and might find that there are more questions than answers on their minds about God and Christianity. If so, I hope maybe they will ask us often what’s on their minds, any questions they might have or thoughts they are wrestling with. I can’t guarantee we can answer everything satisfactory enough to help them discuss with non believers, but I think we have a collective enough wisdom rooted in God’s Word that we could at least give them some things to meditate on.
I have tried to raise American boy in the Christian faith, and with a Biblical worldview. He’s seen a lot of hypocrisy over the years, had a lot of questions, and I’ve tried to answer them appropriately according to his age. He’s been around Christians more than non believers, although he has been around secular circles as well. He loves his church and his groups, enjoys the folks and activities, but I pray for the day he takes the faith as his own, and can reason for it- and not consider himself a Christian just because his mom is.
For all of our younger generations who desperately need hope, we need to give heed to 1 Peter 3:15 and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. We need to teach our younger Christian brothers and sisters to be able to do the same.