Many Students Have Mentally Checked Out on God
John seemed like your average Junior in high school growing up in the South. He played football, video games, and went to church on Sundays and Wednesdays when football or homework didn't get in the way. His parents never really worried about him because he was a pretty good kid. He stayed out of trouble, didn't use any language around them, and made pretty good grades. He had walked the aisle at church to be saved when he was eight years old and that gave them a lot comfort. They were glad to know their son was going to heaven. He didn't really show any signs of wanting to know God more like reading his Bible or praying, but he had walked that aisle...
What John's parents didn't know was that used plenty of foul language in the locker room. He did his fair share of messing around with girls. He most certainly didn't believe in God—science class had proven how foolish it was to believe in an invisible man in the sky that created everything and set the rules. John had already left the church in his mind and heart and he was just serving his time until he could go to college and never return. It was way easier to just go from time to time and not upset his parents. Football kept him away most of the time anyway so it really wasn't that bad.
Sadly, this story I made up is all too real for many teens. As a student pastor, I've encountered many students like John. If they haven't decided in high school that they don't believe in God (statistics reveal more and more have), then typically they will make that jump in college when the encounter worldviews opposed to Christianity and they don't know why they actually believe what they believe.
Another key factor among these students is that many of them have a false assurance of their salvation. Like John, they walked an aisle at a young age, but their profession of faith was not genuine. They did it possibly to please their parents as they knew it would make them happy. They may have done it because a friend or sibling did and they wanted to join in or not be left out. They may have even received some discipleship afterward through children's and youth programs, but without genuine faith and a change of heart, discipleship just becomes head knowledge.
Finding out our children have left the faith we were confident they had fills us with grief and sorrow. Many parents will face reactions of shock, denial, disbelief, anger, and/or blame. This can't continue to be the story. That is why I am writing this. Watching kids walk away from the Church and Christ is heartbreaking. The narrative needs to change. I believe many parents want to be the primary disciplers of their kids, but they just don't know how. Maybe they're scared it's too late to start or that it will be awkward. My hope is to write a series of blog posts to encourage parents and equip them to at least get the ball rolling. It's never too late to start and it's so important. The church has to partner with parents to help equip. The church and parents must be partners to help parents continue to shepherd their children.
To be clear, you can't save your child. That is God's job (you will see me say this over and over). But you will be held responsible before God for how you raised your child and how you discipled him or her. So what can you do or what should you do? Where do you even begin? We will address that next time.