The Pain of a Prodigal: Why Children of Christian Parents Abandon the Faith?

Statistics show a rise in the number of people who hold no religion. 

Statistics show a rise in the number of people who hold no religion.  For Australia, an official tally shows a steady rise every 10 years.

Nat Geo reports that “the religiously unaffiliated, called “nones,” are now… the second largest group in North America and most of Europe.” They make up about 25% of the US population. As of 2016, the “nones” have overtaken Catholics, Protestants, and non-Christian faiths.

Where did these “nones” come from? Didn’t they come from family lines that had religion before, a Christian one possibly? History shows us that from ancient times people practiced their own kind of worship. Inside every heart has always been a realization of a being that is above and beyond us, whose very nature summons our recognition and adoration. Fast forward to the present though and we find in many people the spirit of atheism if not indifference towards God.

LifeWay research warns that Christianity may be losing its “Millennials”. “A survey conducted on adults born from 1980 indicate that “religion and its practices are decreasing and becoming increasingly privatized among the Millennial generation.”

This means fewer people now observe the faith and fewer join communal worship, fellowship, and prayer. Children are abandoning the faith.

How are Christian families dealing with this? Every member is responsible for keeping the Faith and passing it on to “their” next generation. These sad reports should move us to understand the reasons why children abandon the faith so that we can act accordingly.

Lack of In-house Teaching

Children are to grow up learning about God and experiencing Him primarily in the home. Parents should not expect the church to do all the teaching and rearing for them. Deuteronomy chapter 6:7 commands parents to “teach and impress them diligently upon the [minds and] hearts of your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up.” Children must grow up in a home where God and His Words are naturally part of the conversations that take place.

Lack of Modeling

Modeling is essential. Learning impact is high when someone demonstrates the lessons for us. Children need to see evidence of truth and effectiveness. They must witness that God’s Word is indeed reliable and relevant. They must witness that God is real, that He is at work. They must sense that God is not just in the Book, but that He translates into everyday life. Parents can never be perfect. But, they can be perfect examples of how God and His grace can sustain and bless a child that is passionate about Him. There is no expectation to be right all the time. But there is every expectation to be authentic. The goal is to pave and demonstrate the path to genuine godly living so our children will have a definite route to follow.

Lack of Love

The home should always be a place of acceptance and support. It is where 1 Corinthians 13 must be practiced at all times. Family members must learn to be loving and patient with one another. The home should always be a place of honesty and training for righteousness. Judging wrong deeds and correcting errors are a must.  Sin must never be tolerated nor encouraged.  Forgiveness must come easy and resentment should never have a place in the home. Families must learn to deal with wrongdoing and be done with it. Parents should never over-expect from their children and children should never over-expect from their parents. We all make mistakes. We are all in need of God’s grace. We are all dependent on Christ to transform us on a daily basis.

Let God and His Words be in our daily conversations. Let our home be the place where Biblical principles are learned and practiced. And let “right” love be shared unconditionally. When God is relevant and when children realize that He matters, they will understand the reason and need for faith. And, we may yet see God-seekers in generations to come.

Advertisements

Written by Ana Menez

I serve with a training & equipping organization. I am also a freelance writer and I take great interest in writing and sharing growth resources. Reading is one of my great loves. I love it for all its fresh insights and points of view that help as I consider issues relevant to my faith life.

12 Comments

Leave a Reply
  1. This article addresses a part of the problem, and every piece of the puzzle helps. Christians doing better at practicing their relationship with God within their own homes would go a long way to help the faith!

  2. One factor that the author of this post fails to mention that studies indicate is one of the biggest factors for why young people are becoming less religious is…the Internet.

    Never before in the history of mankind has so much information been available to the common man/woman. At the click of a computer mouse, one can find massive quantities of information on any topic of interest, including religion. Prior to the Internet, people were rarely exposed to analysis, research, and scholarship critical of their particular religious views. Now it is available in abundance. Educated young people, who are avid users of the world wide web, are evaluating the evidence and deciding that the evidence for the religious beliefs of their parents and grandparents (generations which simply accepted their religion’s teaching because that is all they knew and were exposed to) is poor.

    Your statement: “Inside every heart has always been a realization of a being that is above and beyond us, whose very nature summons our recognition and adoration” may be no more true than saying:

    “Inside every heart ever since the beginning of time has been the realization that the sun revolves around the earth. We see the evidence of this fact every day as the sunrises in the east, crosses the sky, and sets in the west, only to come up again in the east the next morning….”

    What we perceive and feel in our hearts may not be the truth.

    I suggest that we examine evidence with our brains…and not with our “hearts.

  3. I think one “lack” that is missing is the lack of understanding. It is the understanding that being a Christ follower is building a close personal relationship with God in Christ through the Holy Spirit. Religion has taught humanity the rules and regulations that must be followed, but has missed the understanding that being a child of God means walking in the garden with God in the cool of the day. It means rising in the early hours of the morning to spend time with the Father. It is this lack of understanding that has driven people away from the church. A religious Christ will only take you down a path of blind obedience, while a relationship with Christ will lead you on a journey of understanding the godhead.

  4. I am a prodigal son and I can testify that I experienced all 3 of the “Lacks” that you mentioned. I would add that as a result of the lacks, I experienced what Ephesians 6:4 describes as “exasperation” or a “stirring up of anger”. My parents were very concerned with right behaviors and doing exactly what they said. We were expected to go to church and youth group all the time and be involved in the activities. But I never recall a home lesson on the Bible, I never recall times of prayer together (outside of meals), and I never recall anyone valuing my opinion on a matter in the home and considering why I might be misbehaving. There was a huge lack of compassion and patience. I had to get out and feel better which is why I left the faith and went into worldly pursuits of alcohol, drugs, and sex.

    I think you are spot on, we MUST remember that children not only need an unwavering dedication to the truth, but also a loving leadership team who guides them with patience and understanding along the way. I saw my parents more as pharisees, concerned with the outside, than the inside. I believed it was more important for me to do a behavior the way they wanted than for me to feel loved by them.

    • So, is it safe to say that you take very little (to no) responsibilities for what YOU chose to do? I mean, I see very little of where YOU did something, but a lot of what they did TO you.

      With this logic, and the one above, without considering the times and all that is involved, in the present (which would not be a correct and accurate interpretation without including any/all of that, especially if the Word also says He uses ALL THINGS FOR THE GOOD OF THOSE WHO LOVE HIM), how would you explain Jesus’ disciples being rebuked and not coddled when they walked with Him (then AND now)? He is PERFECTION and they STILL chose to walk a different road sometimes.

      Either God uses and allows everything, and the enemy can only do what God allows, and God is ALL GOOD… ALL THE TIME… or NOT. The problem with society? Very few humble themselves and take responsibility for all the stupid crap they do AND say, especially in the presence of The Almighty; who BTW, is ALWAYS present, at ALL times, EVERYWHERE!

        • I have no power to do that. If you felt conviction or correction, that’s from TRUTH. In case you never saw it: 2 Timothy 3. Pay close attention to verses 16 & 16, too. The word is used for? And, for the purposes of?

          According to the logic provided in your reply, it IS safe to say that. It’s what you vaguely said and what you didn’t want to blatantly admit. 2 Cor. 13, too. Examine yourself.

          • I love those Scriptures and agree with them. Here’s the deal. I have taken responsibility for my life of rebellion and asked the Lord for forgiveness for a disgustingly selfish run during my teens and early 20’s. It was me, I rebelled, I could have endured the pharisaical rule of my parents and come out on the other end still trusting the Lord, but I didn’t. Did their harshness and lack of leadership and modeling give me the right to walk away? No. But, it did affect me negatively. That is the whole point. It primed me to make the decision I made. Notice I didn’t say “caused”. This is why we train up children in the way they should go. If we dont, then they generally go their own selfish way. As a parent I understand that if I do not love my kids with Christ’s love, they will look for love elsewhere. I would blame myself to a large degree. Now if they do walk away it is their fault for rebelling against God regardless, but I also will be held responsible for my part in the matter. We are all guilty. Every offense is against God Himself first. So, in my original post I was only sharing the role that my parents played in my rebellion. It is valid, but like you’ve pointed out, not sufficient reason to grant me excuse. It is important to be aware of these things. To be sure, it is tempting to blame others for my bad decisions and what you’re saying is an extremely valuable lesson. I wish you would have taken the time to understand me and my story better before laying down the law. You would have learned the other side of the story that has just as much truth. I offer this gentle correction to you: before passing correction on others, It helps for them to know you actually care about them. Ironically, thats the issue I had with my parents–i didn’t feel loved–just constantly corrected and judged. I’m mature enough now to hear truth spoken from an unloving person and still grow from it, but it should not be that way. Which again goes back to the context of my rebellion. Grace and peace to you, Lord bless you today!

        • I do most humbly apologize that my comments seemed to correct you. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. The word of God is truth, period!

          • Hey Ron, I wasn’t responding to you, it was to the young lady that I was talking to in that thread. I didn’t even see where you were talking to me?? God bless, no worries!

One Ping

  1. Pingback:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

  
Please enter an e-mail address

What do you think?

127 points
Upvote Downvote

Total votes: 2

Upvotes: 1

Upvotes percentage: 50.000000%

Downvotes: 1

Downvotes percentage: 50.000000%

Prayer: Are We Doing It Right?

Prayer: Are We Doing It Right?

7 Ways Meditative Prayer Can Benefit Your Health

7 Ways Meditative Prayer Can Benefit Your Health