By Ada Brownell
Christians are concerned. Nearly every family has a child or grandchild who isn’t serving God despite being raised in a Christian home and the church.
When I worked as a newspaper reporter, I asked the late general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, Thomas F. Zimmerman, whether he believed if Jesus doesn’t return in this generation the church will survive.
“It will survive,” he said, “but the next generation won’t do church like we do.”
The music changed, churches developed satellite congregations, we have podcasts, and numerous advances from modern technology. Thank God all my children and grandchildren are involved, and despite changes, God is still working.
But still, statistics show a large percentage of youth leave the church before, during or after college.
What can we do?
I worked with youth the majority of my life, and despite being a senior citizen now, I am concerned. Ultimately it is each young person’s decision, but the church is supposed to be salt and light which causes people to seek the Lord. Jesus still stands at the door and knocks—but he’s not going to crash through and enter without being invited.
So, with that in mind, we can:
1. LIVE THE WORD
How we’re supposed to live was summarized for us by Jesus: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself " (Luke 10:26-28).
If we do this, we model our faith. It’s not easy.
The first four of the Ten Commandments have to do with serving and respecting God. The last six have to do with how we treat our neighbor.
I can’t forget, however it is, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:4-6)
Nevertheless, if I love God as Jesus told me to, I’ll talk to Him, read His words, be in His presence, obey Him, and work in His kingdom.
Much hinges on the fruit we produce and walking in the Spirit.
The Apostle Paul told the Galatians, “Walk in the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.”[i]
2. SHARE THE WORD AND YOUR TESTIMONY
Why are you a Christian?
Your children and grandchildren should hear your testimony. Did God change your life? Give you something to live for? Fill the emptiness inside you? Given you joy unspeakable and full of glory? Has he healed you or given miracles for your family?
God reminded sometimes reminded people to be sure to tell their children about God’s miraculous works.
Read about it in Joshua 4, which tells how God parted the Jordan River similar to how he parted the Red Sea and Israel crossed. The Lord told them to gather stones and build a memorial about the miracle.
“This may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”
“What do these stones mean?” I’m fortunate because I’m a writer and I’ve been sharing my testimony since my youth. My children have read some of it, and today if I write something in which they could be interested, I send it to them. Often they comment that they enjoy it. You might be surprised at your family’s reaction.
3. BELIEVE THE WORD We have specific promises for our children.
“Raise up a child in the way he should go. Even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6NASB).
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55: 9-11). (If you’ve taken your kids to church, or had devotions at home, this promise is for you.)
A prophecy by Peter on the day of Pentecost: “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:38-40).
4. TAKE YOUR FAMILY TO CHURCH “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
If you make the Lord and meeting in His presence most important your lives, it makes a difference in families. Children learn the Word, doctrine, to obey their parents, and they make best friends who also want to follow the Lord. The church usually provides good clean fun, too. This gives children the opportunity to accept Jesus as Savior, discover that God loves them no matter what and has a plan for their lives. Children faithful in God’s house usually also choose Christian mates.
5. PRAY AND BELIEVE The Bible is filled with promises and testimonies that state God answers prayer. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, told the jailer who wanted to become a Christian, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16).
©Ada Brownell June 2013