Sunday, March 24, 2013

Raising kids in Christ

My last post talked about some church attendance stats for my community. I mentioned in that post that I had other information about my community from the research that I did, so I wanted to share some more of that here. Today's stats have to do with youth. Anna and I have been a part of churches that put enormous amounts of effort into the youth of the congregation and community, unfortunately at times to the detriment of the older generations. We have also experienced churches that have put too much emphasis on the older generations and nearly ignored youth altogether.

What about the state of youth in the church in the Fairless school district? I can't fairly say how each church factors youth into its vision, but I can say that no church that is located within the district has a youth pastor on staff. There is a church in our district that does have a pastor that is dedicated to youth, but their youth program meets outside of the district. This church isn't doing anything wrong by meeting outside the district, they are simply following the vision they have for reaching youth. Also, to be fair, there are numerous good people within my district that are volunteers who run youth programs in their churches. However, many of the pastors I have spoken with said that they don't have too many youth in their churches. In fact, the age group that makes up the majority of the congregations in my district is age 60 and up. Some of the churches are only made up of people in that age group, which unfortunately means that unless something changes, these churches will be without congregations in 15 - 20 years or less.

So my question is why are there not that many youth in the churches in my district? Well, one possibility has to do with their parents. The median age in the district's population is mid-40s and that is the age group that makes up a large portion of the district. So these folks are primarily baby boomers and many of them are not in church. Since as I said before, many of the churches are made up of parents of baby boomers. It seems that as the parents go, so go the children. There is another conversation to be had about what happened with the transfer of faith from the parents of baby boomers to the baby boomers.

This morning at church, a young man sang a song with his dad. That in and of itself is not that out of the ordinary, but what is remarkable about this young man and primarily this family is that the young man wrote the song after attending his grandfather's funeral. The young man's dad sang the song as the young man played the guitar. The song was about trusting in Christ through pain and loss. This young man is around ten years old or so. I was blown away. The really cool thing was to sit back and think how his grandfather raised his three kids, who are all faithful Christians, and that has trickled down to his grandchildren. It makes me think about what kind of legacy I will leave for Nora and any their other children God may bless Anna and I with. I pray that it is that kind of legacy.

So, bringing it back around, parents have to be in church in order for their kids to be there. Ultimately, parents will stand before Christ and give an account for how or if they raised their kids up to know Him. The youth pastors and pastors of the world will not primarily give an account for how children were brought up in Christ; it is not primarily their job. As a father, it is first my job to raise Nora to know Christ. I am just getting started as a father, so I am far from being an expert and I realize that there are a myriad of challenges for fathers and parents in general in raising children in the faith. I do know however, that the parents' faith has a significant impact.

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