Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Where have all the Children Gone? (Pt 2)

They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. (Ephesians 4:18)

Part 2 of a 3 part series
 A knife to a Gun fight!

In the last blog we addressed the fact that the church was dwindling in size, most visibly the size of members from age 18-35. We looked at four reasons that those that once attended church gave for no longer attending, or converting to another religion.  They were;    (1)What the Bible says about slavery;   (2)Their imagined intellectual integrity;   (3)As Christians we have a low intellectual view of ourselves, and the God which gives us knowledge and wisdom. (4) We have perpetuated ignorance of the Bible doctrine.

In this blog we will address what we did to get ourselves in this predicament. And in the last installment I’ll address what we need to do to fix what is broken. I know many churches that thrive because of the children ministry. For many people if a church does not have a “good” children ministry they will not even think about attending.  They are content with having someone else train up their child (Proverbs 22:6) rather than do it themselves. I have seen that the children ministry has been the one ministry that has every church that is increasing in membership has in common. 

1.      Children Ministry; Parents will only half-heatedly listen to the sermons if they have to continually monitor their children. The more resourceful churches realized this problem and began what they called “Children Nursery” with time this nursery grow into what is commonly called Children Ministry.  As parents began to worry less and less about their children during church, they naturally tell their friends about their church and it’s children ministry. Consequently, churches with strong Children Ministries grow much more quickly than churches without.  And therein lies the problem.  Children Ministries remove the kids from hearing the preached word. And the Bible teaches “Faith comes by hearing” (Romans 10:17) Graphic nurseries with Bible story themes, candy rewards, Vacation Bible Study (which is not a VBS at all), camping trips, and pizza parties, skating events, and even youth dances has caused the children to desire the event of Children Ministry more than the person of Ministry, Jesus Christ.

2.     Do Good and Be Saved; There is an expression “You can’t legislate morality”. But this is exactly what we try to do when the way we teach our children about Jesus includes . “Be nice in school, don’t cheat, don’t lie, or steal.”  This form of legalism was the flaw of the Pharisees, and we have not done well to avoid it especially concerning our children. As children get older the issue become one of separation.  They either think that they’re “good people” since they don’t “do” any of the stuff they are taught not to like (drink, smoke, dance, or watch R-rated movies), or they realize that no matter how hard they try they cannot meet God’s requirement and they lose hope ever being accepted by God.

3.     Teaching that they don’t need Jesus; rather than teach sound doctrine and apologetics we teach life application principles and how to cope with difficult times.  If all we get from church is how to live a better life then there is no need for a crucified Jesus. If all we offer our children/young people is quality of life than we are failing desperately.  Slang words and hip clothing are not the tools of a pastor, it is embarrassing to see a pastor trying to be relevant to a bunch of young people. Rather than being faithful to the foolish simplicity of the cross, we’ve set our goal on being “successful” in growing crowds with this gospel of quality of life and our kids leave Christ because we have failed to give them the truth of the gospel.

  Butter knife at a gun fight; For the most part we treat our children as though they are stupid or unintelligent. We dumb down the message of the gospel or don’t give it at all leaving them with a partial understanding of the faith or doubts all together. Most of our children can’t even explain the gospel, 90 percent know nothing about doctrine at all. This forces them to enter the world embarrassingly ignorant of our faith. Left unable to give an answer for the faith (1 Peter 3:15) and unable to contend for the faith (Jude 1:3-4) against atheists and agnostics, non-believing friends, college professors, and even the entertainment world.  Instead of sending them out in the Full Armor of God we are sending them to a gun fight with a butter knife!

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