Friday, August 2, 2013

Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia
There are books and articles floating around on the internet "ten reasons why children leave the church."  I offer ten reasons why your children stay in church after they're grown.

1.  Because they saw the faith lived out at home on a daily basis by imperfect but humble, God-loving  parents who never quit trying to be pleasing to Him.
2.  Because they learned faithfulness in a marriage, and to the church in balance with the family.
3.  Because they saw the God of nature through the joyful memories of family vacations.
4.  Because they saw the pattern to serve rather than be served to find joy (Jesus, Others, You).
5.  Because they learned to read the Bible for themselves.
6.  Because they found unconditional love by a parent which demonstrated God's unconditional love for them: the door back was always open even when they sinned big time, not excusing, but forgiving.
7.  Because they were not enabled to rationalize sin any more than they were able to get away with doing what they knew was wrong as kids.  Discipline and discipleship are very close together.
8.   Because the family who laughs together, worships together, plays together, stays together.
9.   Because they learned that there are the most loving, wonderful church family members in spite of the most awful hypocrites in every church.
10.  Because they learned they alone stand before God with an accounting for their lives not able to place the blame on any other, parents, family, church, for their decisions: there is no such thing as second hand faith.
A church in Jamestown, Virginia

My father left his job at a Christian college with the dream of starting Christian housing on non-Christian campuses because statistics show this is where we lose our children.  Even many "Christian" campuses do not share the faith that they learned at home.  Higher education comes at a higher cost than even $25,000+/yr: it often costs them their faith when they are not strong enough to be in the world but not of the world. Rather than worry about a college fund, invest in a godly accounting to God of your example.  Godly examples in secular education are not common.  Our society is a hedonistic one as well.  The combination can be damning if faith is not established before becoming immersed in the "ego atmosphere of academia" and the unchristian bent of this world.

Why did my siblings and I stay with the church?  We established our own relationship with God, became accountable to Him even more than we were accountable to our parents.  Church was not entertainment.  It was a fellowship of believers with a heart for the lost.  I vividly remember sitting in a junior high group and later a high school Sunday School class when the Word became alive and strangely warmed my heart, God speaking personally to me.  I became a lifetime seeker after Him.

An early church meeting house in Williamsburg, Virginia

In my nineth grade year, we moved and became part of a church plant in Morro Bay, California.  We met in a rented hall on Sunday mornings and in homes on Sunday night and midweek as families, not isolated in age groups.  The church people became family, all generations together.  It was sweet fellowship with godly examples.  We quickly learned that the church people were not without fault.  We learned to love the Church anyway as the body of Christ.  My parents also did not feel the need to share all the church's dirty laundry with us either.

We learned authentic Christianity at home and at church through  the inerrant Word of God uncompromising on principles.  We were not satisfied with milk, but the meat of the Gospel.  You can only spoon feed children for so long: they will not be satisfied with baby food forever.  We learned that many heads can have one heart.  The Church is bigger than denomination.

What can parents do?  Live as godly examples and pray.

"For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,
that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory,
to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man;
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and
that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
may be able to comprehend with all the saints
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge,
that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly
beyond all that we ask or think,
according to the power that works within us,
to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus
to all generations forever and ever.
Ephesians 3:14-21
Now that's what I'm talking about!  Use this prayer for your family and see what God can do,
when you are rooted and grounded in love.

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