I am the oldest of 6 children. I, and the sister just under me, are still in church. We are both actively trying to raise our children to stay in church.
The four siblings under us all have decided that they don't want anything to do with church. They've been in and out of prison, multiple arrests, bad friends and influences, and even have decided that there is no God. I've been told many times "I don't believe like you".
Why the difference? What made the 2 older ones of us thrive in the Christian walk, and the 4 younger ones run the opposite direction?
Proverbs 22:6- Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
I recently read an article that says there are 3 common traits of youth who don't leave church. They are as follows:
1) They are converted.
2) They have been equipped, not entertained.
3) Their parents preached the gospel to them.
Looking back on my own teenage years, I can see these 3 things in my life. I trusted the Lord at the age of 10. I knew what a sinner was. I knew what salvation meant. And I made a conscious decision to accept Christ as my personal Savior, knowing that was the only way to heaven.
II Corinthians 5:17- Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
My sister, just under me, and I revelled in Bible trivia. We wanted to know the in's and out's of the Bible. We would read our Bible together. Play trivia games together. Memorize Scripture together. Sing together. We encouraged each other to love the Lord and to desire to serve Him.
We also went to a Bible believing, Bible teaching church. My youth group was the greatest! My youth pastor put a love of God and service in our hearts by example and practice.
Proverbs 27:17- Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10- Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
And, lastly, my mom preached to us. She gave us Scripture for everything we did wrong! We knew not only what was wicked, but why it was wicked.
Deuteronomy 11:18-19- Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
My 4 younger siblings didn't get that. My mom and step dad divorced, and they left that church. Life became a battle between the parents instead of a fight to raise the children right. My step dad thought that turning my siblings against my mom was the best way to get revenge. The only thing it did was doom them to a life of questioning all authority, and accepting only what made them feel good no matter the cost.
As parents we are called to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We are to lead them to Him. It's our job to guide our children in the principles stated above so that they grow into strong Christian leaders who choose to stay in church and serve God.