Luke8.11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.
These quotes from Christianity Today by Drew Dyck reflect these verses in Luke. Our children are hearing and in some cases receiving the word, but are falling away. Fathers we need to be alarmed because we have a greater promise: Proverbs22.6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. The question is, are we teaching them or dropping them off.
Recent studies have brought the trend to light. Among the findings released in 2009 from the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), one stood out. The percentage of Americans claiming "no religion" almost doubled in about two decades, climbing from 8.1 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2008. The trend wasn't confined to one region. Those marking "no religion," called the "Nones," made up the only group to have grown in every state, from the secular Northeast to the conservative Bible Belt. The Nones were most numerous among the young: a whopping 22 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds claimed no religion, up from 11 percent in 1990. The study also found that 73 percent of Nones came from religious homes; 66 percent were described by the study as "de-converts."
Other survey results have been grimmer. At the May 2009 Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, top political scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell presented research from their book American Grace, released last month. They reported that "young Americans are dropping out of religion at an alarming rate of five to six times the historic rate (30 to 40 percent have no religion today, versus 5 to 10 percent a generation ago)."
There has been a corresponding drop in church involvement. According to Rainer Research, approximately 70 percent of American youth drop out of church between the age of 18 and 22. The Barna Group estimates that 80 percent of those reared in the church will be "disengaged" by the time they are 29. Barna Group president David Kinnaman described the reality in stark terms:
"Imagine a group photo of all the students who come to your church (or live within your community of believers) in a typical year. Take a big fat marker and cross out three out of every four faces. That's the probable toll of spiritual disengagement as students navigate through their faith during the next two decades."
In his book unChristian, Kinnaman relayed his findings from thousands of interviews with young adults. Among his many conclusions was this: "The vast majority of outsiders [to the Christian faith] in this country, particularly among young generations, are actually dechurched individuals." He reports that 65 percent of all American young people report having made a commitment to Jesus Christ at some point. In other words, most unbelieving outsiders are old friends, yesterday's worshipers, children who once prayed to Jesus.
To tweak Kinnaman's language, the problem today isn't those who are unchristian, but that so many are ex-Christian. Strictly speaking, they are not an "unreached people group." They are our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, and friends. They have dwelt among us.
Every Christian institution is failing our children and most fathers are abdicating their Biblical duty. We are turning over our most precious possessions, without a fight, to the enemy. Would anyone describe fathers as Mighty Men of Valor?
Published on Wednesday, December 1, 2010 @ 7:06 AM CDT