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The Open Door


The headline on the front page of the USA TODAY, April 27, 2010, read, “Young adults less devoted to faith: Survey shows steady drift from church life.”

In the article written by Cathy Lynn Grossman, Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, was quoted for research he has conducted on the Millennial generation. The article began by stating, “Most young adults today don’t pray, don’t worship and don’t read the Bible.” Rainer is quoted as saying, “The Millennial generation will see churches closing as quickly as GM dealerships.” Rainer had surveyed 1,200 young adults from 18 to 29-years-of-age.

Among the 65 percent who call themselves Christian, “many are either mushy Christians or Christians in name only. Most are just indifferent. The more precisely you try to measure their Christianity, the fewer you find committed to the faith,” Rainer commented.

Some of the information gathered in the survey is alarming. “[Sixty-five] percent rarely or never pray with others, and 38 percent almost never pray by themselves either. [Sixty-five] percent rarely or never attend worship services. [Sixty-seven] percent don’t read the Bible or sacred texts. Many are unsure that Jesus is the only way to heaven.”

Half say He is, while the other half say He is not the only way. Rainer asserts that, “We have dumbed down what it means to be part of the church so much that it means almost nothing, even to people who already say they are part of the church.”

In spite of the dismal statistics, Rainer is encouraged by the approximate 15 percent of teens and young adults who appear to be “deeply committed” Christians in study, prayer, worship, and action.

A study conducted by LifeWay in 2007 “found 7 in 10 Protestants ages 18 to 30, both evangelical and mainline, who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23. And 34 percent of those had not returned, even sporadically, by age 30.”

So what is the answer to this significant negative trend? As we approach Mother’s day this Sunday, we approach the answer to that question.

The best way I know to turn these statistics around is through the nurture and admonition of parents as they lead their children into a deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that if we will train up our children in the way they should go that when they are old, they will not depart from it. Children who are raised in church, who hear the Gospel of Christ preached and taught on a regular basis, have a tremendous spiritual advantage throughout their lives.

Early on they learn what it means to be a Christian, to grow up in a Christian home. They learn how Christians address the problems and challenges they have each day. They fall in love with life within the church.

I remember as a child that my best friends were all in my church. We hung out together. We played, worked, and sang together. We went to each others parties. We recreated together. For the most part, we went to school together.

These solid Christian friendships served as the basis for friendships that would be formed later in life. I wanted to be around people who loved Jesus as I loved Jesus, with young people who lived the Christian lifestyle.

All of this began because of my two wonderful Christian parents. My Mother and my Dad set the pattern of Bible study and worship on Sunday morning, every Sunday morning, so much so that it became a habit that I would not break. Then it was back to the church on Sunday afternoon for youth choir and youth group activities. I didn’t want to miss.

I never considered the possibility of dropping out of church after high school. My fun was at church. My friends were at church. My family was at church. My fulfillment and my sense of God’s call upon my life were discovered in my church. It was my favorite place to be.

The trend reported in the article can be reversed, but it will take dedicated moms and dads who desire more than anything else to bring up their children in the way they should go. I am so thankful for all our Christian mothers who are deeply committed to doing just that. There really is nothing quite as valuable as the privilege of growing up in a Christian home.