“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8
God alone saves, but brothers and sisters in Christ are responsible for creating an environment where our children can “bump into God” all day, every day.
The trend for young Christians when they emerge from the teen years into official adulthood is to set aside their Christian beliefs and behaviors, sometimes for only a few years and other times forever.
The Barna Research Group reported from a 2019 survey that some 64% of young Christians fall away from the faith and leave the church after high school.1
“Teens do not have to fall away from God. Just because they are teens does not mean it is a guarantee they will.” Anonymous Parent Recovering from Raising Teens
Does this ‘falling away’ from the faith have to happen? True, the nature of adolescence is to gravitate toward independence, often involving the wholesale rejection of all values associated with parents and family. Because it is so common for Christian teenagers to reject the church of their parents, even the God of the generations of their family, does this mean we should expect it, just accept it, and hope to heaven they come back?
Like the young Jacob of Genesis, teens really do have to come to terms with God and the church on a personal level. Jacob even wrestled with God, finally realizing that it was in his best interest to have a relationship of his own with Him.
The good thing about Jacob’s situation growing up is that he had no choice but to bump into the God of Abraham and Isaac everywhere he went from sunup to sundown. For the most part, not only did his parents and relatives live lives that were more pleasing to God than others; the Word of God was posted everywhere on doorposts and parchment, and hymns of the ages sprung often from other believers’ lips.
Jacob was literally ‘immersed’ in the faith of his fathers. His immersion was total, as close to 100% as was humanly possible. He literally bumped into God all day, every day the whole time he was growing up in his father’s home, up until it became necessary for him to leave home and start a life and family of his own.
“Consider for transformation and renewing purposes in Christian growth, how ‘total immersion’ theory works for effective language acquisition.”
Application Drawn from the Work of Dr. James Champion Stone
How can Christian parents these days immerse their children in a world where they bump into God all day every day?
Studies show that when you consider the waking hours of most children/teens/young adults, the percentage of time they encounter any aspect of the Christian faith is a small percentage in the single digits.2 They encounter the secular world so much more.
There is much parents can do at home. Parents can have a long-lasting impact on their children’s faith life by regular practicing their beliefs in front of and with their children, including going to church together, participating in church programs and services, praying frequently and spontaneously, apologizing and forgiving as needed, reading and referring to the Bible regularly, playing worship music, tuning in to Christian radio stations when driving in the car, exercising tough love when appropriate, saying grace at meals, counting family and individual blessings out loud, living out the true meaning of Christian holidays, and thanking and praising God in all circumstances, both positive and difficult.
(The next article in this series focuses on what educational programs and churches can do to help children “bump into God” as often as is humanly possible, including the direct application of Immersion Language Acquisition Theory.)
1 “Church Dropouts Have Risen to 64%--But What About Those Who Stay,” Barna Research Group, 2019.
2 “10 Key Findings of the Religious Lives of U.S. Teens and Their Parents,” Pew Research Center, 2020.