2 Corinthians 7:1 (New International Reader's Version)
1 Dear friends, we have these promises from God. So let us make ourselves pure from everything that pollutes our bodies and spirits. Let us be completely holy. We want to honor God.
Alot is being written these days about the number of young people leaving the church after they leave home. The author of one such book, Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Faith. . .and How to Bring Them Back,Drew Dyck said in an interview "I think there has been a lot of evidence that they are dropping religion at a greater rate than the younger adults of yesteryear," said Drew Dyck.
In his book Dyck examines the reasons for this through interviews he conducts. Reasons can be varied, from those who leave because of a negative experience, to those who rebel, and those who just get bored and drift away. There has also been other research from everyone from Focus on the Family to Pew Research that seems to concur with this significant falling away of our young people.
I am concerned for Christian youth of today, because today there is more pressure from the world around them than ever before in the past. Once they are out of our care and the safer surroundings of a church family or youth group, they are like "lambs thrown to the wolves". The god of this world will do all he can to trip up everyone of God's children he can. Many of us need only to look in the mirror to identify someone who has gone through this. So what do we do to help them from becoming another statistic?
First, our youth must know without a doubt what they believe. They need to be able to standup for it, and to defend it. As there parents, we need to know what they do believe, and if their is doubt, help to point them to someone that can help them work thorugh those doubts (Of course we need to be sure of what we believe first). They can only be strong against opposition if they do this.
Next, once they leave the home, they have to have a lifeline back to thier church and their family of believers. This may mean that your church or its youth group leaders need to be actively connecting with these youth on a regular basis, providing a resource upon which they can depend on. Nothing makes a young person more vulnerable than when they feel that they are alone.
Knowing what they will be held accountable to when they are in the world is the next step. The passage above makes it clear what God expects from them and us. There are many passages in the Bible that help support this. Find them yourself, then pass them on to your kids.
I believe many young people fall away bacause their parents have in the way they live. Many times the "empty-nest" syndrome drives once church-going parents to themselves fall into leading lifestyles that result in break up and divorce. Our bad examples forces our young adults to question their own personal faith, and many times the results are catastrophic. Get you own "house of faith" in order before you expect your kids to.
Finally, before your young person leaves home, discuss what will happen when they do go away. Be very honest and clear that what the world offers is not what they have been accustomed to. They need to know how to face things such as relationships, drinking, drugs and sex. Don't be afraid to talk about it, and yes, its okay to be honest about your past mistakes. Nothing is more important than to know that God can restore broken people, just in case they do mess up.
Photo "Water 4" by NKZS, 8-21-2008, from stock.xchng