Why Do Our Kids Reject Christianity?

Why do so many people—people with incredible conversion stories—parent children who abandon Christianity?

Leaving Church r1

History overflows with great saints whose offspring lose faith:

  • Samuel was a mighty prophet of God. His sons were a mess.
  • David was a man after God’s own heart. His children were a disaster.
  • Harvard, Yale, and Princeton were founded on the gospel. Now they lead the opposition.

I’ve witnessed dozens of couples, churches, ministries, and prayer groups who began with a furious fire of love for God whose next generation couldn’t blow a smoke ring.

Our children lose that fire because of the simplest and silliest of reasons: we assume the gospel. The following downhill slide reveals the stealthy creep of the lost gospel:

  1. The gospel is Accepted —>
  2. The gospel is Assumed —>
  3. The gospel is Confused —>
  4. The gospel is Lost                         (Mack Stiles, Marks of the Messenger)

The author continues, “For any generation to lose the gospel is tragic. But the generation that assumes the gospel … is most responsible for the loss of the gospel.” That generation is us. We are most responsible.

What happened to us?     

What’s Wrong with this Picture?

I’m in the middle of another bout with bronchitis (I think I’m losing), so I planned to skip my blog this week. But last Sunday, a TV advertisement for a Christian dating site changed my mind.

A walk on the beach r1

I’ve never used an online dating site (I found my wife before Al Gore invented the internet), but I know many believers who found like-minded spouses online. The concept makes sense.

Last Sunday I tuned out the clichéd advertisement for Christian dating, with its images of smiling couples holding hands while strolling on a beach at sunset. But then the ad ended with this tagline:

“Helping good people find good people.”

When Good Advice Boomerangs

Over the last month or so, I have heard of, witnessed, and (sadly) perpetrated several damaging acts of offering advice, examples where the counsel backfired and the recipient was worse off than before.

Boomeraning behaviors

And I’m talking about examples of good, sound, wise, practical advice. Instead of strengthening the listeners, the guidance pulled the rug out from beneath them; instead of encouraging, it discouraged:

  • A grown man told me how his father’s advice on how to handle school bullies made him feel like a lifelong coward;
  • I saw a man offer his wife excellent principles for dealing with her incompetent boss, and his advice shriveled her spirit;
  • I suggested to a friend three guidelines for strengthening a daily prayer habit, and the man’s prayer time went from ten minutes to two.

How many times have you received unsolicited advice and you wonder, Do I really look that stupid to you? Why does advice—and I’m talk about good, practical guidance—so often boomerang?

Is Sunday School Destroying Our Kids?

Several years ago I met with a woman distraught over her son’s rejection of Christianity.

Heroes of the faith r1

She said, “I did everything I could to raise him right. I taught him to be like the ‘heroes of faith,’ with the faithfulness of Abraham, the goodness of Joseph, the pure heart of David, and the obedience of Esther.”

She wondered why he had rejected Christianity.

I wondered why it took him so long.

What Can Westboro Baptist Teach Us About Grace?

I once talked with a group of college students, and one of them asked, “How do you explain Westboro Baptist? I can’t stand Christianity because of churches like them.”

Westboro fan protests

Westboro fan protests

Have you heard of Westboro? They picket military funerals in protests against gays. Their website is, God Hates Fags dot com (I can’t bring myself to type the link).

Westboro Baptist is a tiny church. Where they fail to attract many members, they excel at attracting the media. And where they fail to represent the True Church, they excel at representing what’s wrong with the church.

I’ve never met a soul from Westboro—and I’ve never met anyone who’s met someone from Westboro—and I cannot say anything about any of its members’ hearts.

But I can say this: if we don’t understand churches like Westboro, we’ll never understand grace.

Most of Us Read The Bible The Wrong Way

Have you ever been in a relationship in which everything you say is misunderstood? It’s as though the other person has a built in bias to misinterpret you:

  • You say their new tie is attractive. They wonder if you are buttering them up in order to borrow fifty bucks.
  • You privately mention that their plaid, pink tie clashes (in the tiniest way) with their striped, orange shirt. They think you are a critical jerk.
  • You say nothing at all about their new tie. They figure you are a self-obsessed narcissist who never notices anything about anyone else.

A built-in-bias prevents them from hearing what you have to say because their hearing is filtered through their agenda. They only hear what they want to hear.

Well, we are that biased, agenda-driven person, only we misinterpret what God says. We read scripture through the lens of our purposes, and we overlook his purpose.

We are missing the boat to a rich life with God, and boarding a dinghy to relational hell.

Why Do Our Children Leave The Church?

Why do so many people—with incredible conversions—parent children who leave Christianity? History m223951120overflows with great saints whose offspring lose faith:

  • Samuel was a mighty prophet of God. His sons were a mess.
  • David was a man after God’s own heart. His children were a disaster.
  • Harvard, Yale, and Princeton were founded on the gospel. Now they lead the opposition.

I’ve witnessed dozens of families (churches, ministries, and prayer groups) who began with a furious fire of love for God whose next generation couldn’t blow a smoke ring.

Our children lose fire because of our mother-of-all-assumptions; we assume the gospel. This is how the gospel is lost:

  1. The gospel is Accepted —>
  2. The gospel is Assumed —>
  3. The gospel is Confused —>
  4. The gospel is Lost                         (Mack Stiles, Marks of the Messenger)

The author continues, “For any generation to lose the gospel is tragic. But the generation that assumes the gospel … is most responsible for the loss of the gospel.

That generation is us. We are most responsible. Who has bewitched us?