Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6 may be one of the most quoted scriptures on parenting and it never gets old for me. The idea that I could spend the first 18 years of my children’s lives teaching them and leading by example, so that they might be a straight and true arrow as they leave the quiver and fly out into the world (Psalm 127:3-5).
Unfortunately, this task is not as easy as this proverb makes it sound. Parenting styles are as varied as the children we raise. Not to mention the host of values we want to imprint on them as they are under our care. How do we pick what’s important? For which battles should we gird our loins and which ones should prompt a white flag?
I have been hearing an alarming statistic about our youth. They are leaving their churches and forgetting their faith as they head to college. Sources disagree on actual numbers, but the trend has been described as an exodus. Ed Stetzer comments on the “why” behind this in his thoughtful piece for Christianity Today. He says, “Our teenagers aren’t primarily leaving because they have significant disagreements with their theological upbringing or out of some sense of rebellion. For the most part, they simply lose track of the church and stop seeing it as important to their life.”
My heart breaks at this and yet I understand – I was there once. I stood in the doorway between my childhood faith and adult potential. I looked out into an expanse that I could choose to fill with whatever pleased me. By the grace of God and the wisdom of my parents, I decided to make a path for my own faith through the wilderness that I would encounter. I chose to do so within the boundaries of community and church.
Read more about how to instill a love of church in your children at iBelieve