I don’t know how accurate that stat is, but it sounds about right. Whether it’s 80% or 8%, we should be alarmed that any kids leave the church after being nurtured by it for so long. Are the parents responsible? Is it the church’s job to ensure that the love for the church is so deep that they are compelled to continue the journey even after they are free to choose not to? Do we need to raise expectations for Bible knowledge? While I think the answer to these questions might be yes, I feel that there is one key ingredient that the church and parents often fail to add to a kid’s life.
I’ve spoken to dozens of college students and singles over the years who have left the church. These are adults who truly knew what they believed. They could even quote scripture better than most pastors I know. What you believe is very important. However, what’s also important is being able to defend what you believe.
There is a mindset in the church that apologetics is an adult topic. Some think that it’s a cerebral approach that kids can learn when they’re ready, perhaps when they’re “old enough.” In light of the fact that even young kids are being faced now with issues of gender, a multi-religious culture, post-modern/no-truth academia, and a general anti-Christian bias that is arising, it is critical that we equip our kids to defend their faith.
Who was Jesus? How can we know that he was who he claimed to be? Why should we believe that the Bible is God’s Word and that it is our flawless manual for life? My teenager needs to be able to answer these questions. My tweener needs to be able to defend his faith. My 10-year-old son needs to be able to jump into the conversation as well. He’ll be facing the challenge a lot sooner that we can imagine and in a much more aggressive arena of thought.
Our kids are old enough to learn apologetics as soon as they make the decision to follow Jesus. Jesus has saved us. He gives us hope. We need to be able to convince others of these truths.