PART 2 - THE ANSWERSThe very thought provoking column by William Hageman of the Chicago Tribune which sparked these last two blog posts also tried to offer some solutions to this increasing crisis of Faith. (The column is headlined "TEACHING KIDS ABOUT FAITH WHEN YOU DON'T PRACTICE ONE"). Some of them are worth implementing immediately.
Hageman threw in some ideas from authors whose books have sold well in Christian circles (like Sticky Faith). He said that the topic of God is going to come up in the daily lives - mostly at school - of these kids who are not raised in households of faith. I would add, that God has His people, no matter how young or old, EVERYWHERE. Even in some crime-ridden public school in the worst-in-the-nation system in Chicago, we are finding out from my Gideon Bible brethren that sometimes the principal or an administration person may actually be a real Christian.....and as happened in a school in Springfield yesterday in a bad neighborhood, they actually want the Gideon New Testaments handed out in their schools. We are finding this a lot, on an anecdotal level, in school districts across the country as more and more responsible adults realize that sinful mortal men and women do not have the true answers to give these poor kids any real hope!
To build on Hageman's point, if a parent has no faith or practices none BUT is concerned about their children's future, when the child brings up the fact that he or she saw a bunch of Christians holding hands around a flagpole in the school yard wanted to join them - then please do not make fun of that child for wanting to know more about, for example, SEE YOU AT THE POLE! This year's event is on Wednesday September 26. We will remind folks of this in a couple weeks, but be ye prepared for that big day in the life of a school child as the academic year gears into full speed! Even if the parent could care less about God or church or the Bible or prayer (except when something bad happens) etc etc....if you try to stop a young person who is seeking answers which you, in your evil rebellion against God cannot or do not want to give - you will be judged harshly by God, if you do not repent and make it right, period. This is a promise from Jesus "And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea" (Mark 9:42).
So we know kids are going to find out about God somewhere - either how to disobey Him more, or hopefully, through peers - seek to know why Susie or Joshua or Brittany have such a wonderful shine on their face and smile, even through adversity and even bullying in school. The least an unbelieving parent can do, is NOT get in their way. If there is an athletic program in the school, there will most likely be a Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle (Bible Study group) in there. I would encourage the kid to join one of those groups - even if the child is not a full time jock or a swimmer or just plays chess. They will not refuse him or her entry to the group. Huddle leaders are students just like them, except the huddle leader is usually a born again older teen who is grounded in the Bible. It has to be the Bible and nothing else. The article mentioned above got input from people from other faiths and NO faith. While it may be worth looking into their methods whereby they share their world-based philosophy, you may use some of them but base it 100% on God's Word!
If an unchurched or unsaved parent wants the best for their kids' life, they would allow them to seek purpose in their lives on their own, if they are not willing to do it the right way. The right way is what God says. God gave the example in the Book of Deuteronomy to show how we are supposed to teach our kids His Word. "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to 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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9 ESV)
Most western parents, and increasingly, most Christian parents do not even follow 15% of that recommendation from Abba Father! They will drop their kids off at youth group and never check to see what they are learning while they themselves talk about Golf, football and Starbucks in church with their adult friends. This is no different from what an unsaved parent does....except it looks better because the parent goes to a (mostly country-club) American church.
So think on these things, my friends. Are there answers to these things which are occurring with frequency? Yes...and none of them are easy. In fact, some of them will seem impossible. An increasing number of churches are abandoning their jobs and missions to reach these folks "because it is too hard....and we have to take care of our own"!!! This is disobedience and these pastors and church boards will be accountable for that...do not go to these people. Find someone you trust, a co-worker who is fired up for Jesus or an obvious active Christian and seek their counsel. Most times, nine of out ten, this type of person will go out their way to help!! Therefore, Open the Eyes of your Heart my friends, see the need, and act accordingly.
NEXT UP - "PRACTICAL ATHEISTS"
(photo by Tampa Bay Online & google images)