Perhaps, the scariest thing to me about parenting is the fear of my daughter rejecting God. Many of my parenting decisions were made because I wanted to be able to honestly say I did everything I knew how to do to help her be strong spiritually. And yet there are no guarantees your child will be a faithful, productive Christian as an adult. Or are there?
The new book Abandoned Faith by Alex McFarland and Jason Jimenez examines why many young people are abandoning their faith and what parents can do about it. I won’t lie. This is one scary book. If your children are still at home, it will scare the pants off of you – and it should. As someone who works with kids and teens on a regular basis, I can tell you very few parents are doing what they need to do to prepare their children to live an active, productive Christian faith as an adult.
Most of you will lose your kids – watch them reject God and His teachings – because you aren’t doing what you could do now to greatly lessen the chances it will happen. This book does a great job at pointing out the main mistakes parents make when helping their kids develop a strong spiritual life.
My only concern is that because it is framed with generational labels, many parents will have an excuse to ignore what the authors are saying because their children are too young or they are in a different generation than the parents to whom the book is written. (BTW shout out to the authors for moving me into a younger generation!)
It also makes me nervous, because when you begin talking about generations, people get defensive. There may be patterns, but it’s often easy to find exceptions to let you off the hook for the primary lessons given. My advice for readers is to ignore the generational terms and focus on the take-aways. Frankly, I disagree slightly with the authors. I think that although statistically things look worse, in people’s hearts the rejection of God has changed very little. I just think societal pressure kept God on the “to-do” list – but the actual beliefs and hearts of most were no different than today.
Having said that though, I do think many of the better educated, middle class and up young people have had it drilled into them by their educators to change the world. This curriculum was society’s attempt to put godly behaviors back into society while at the same time removing God. Although the authors make some good points about the current clamor for social justice, the heart problems haven’t changed much either – it’s just “cool” to talk about social justice and criticize others for their lack of it. (The modern variant of “Don’t trust anyone over 30”). Social justice has also become the popular “to-do” for society’s definition of “good people” replacing the church attendance and marginal involvement expected of earlier generations.
I have to give a long cheer to the authors for absolutely capturing what churches are trying to do to get these young people back and what an incredible failure it has been and continues to be. I have said from day one if we really go back and re-create the 1st century church – even with its own problems – if we live our faith as many of them did – we won’t lose and will gain back most young people.
Although this book is probably marketed to parents whose adult children have left God, really only parts of the book are addressed specifically to them. I love that the authors didn’t let parents off the hook for past mistakes, but help them face and repent of them. Yet, in that process, the authors also remind parents that the process of repentance gives us grace. The grace to move on and work to help children return to God. The authors clearly point out this means parents making some major changes themselves. I think for a parent who has watched their child reject God though, many would be willing to do almost anything to have their child return to God.
My main theological issue with the book is that it makes an awesome point about conversion and then stops just short of the biblical solution. They correctly point out that the “believer’s prayer” does not bring about true conversion. It’s just too easy to ignore later (and isn’t biblical – in fact it was created in this country in rather modern times). They stop short though, of pointing out that in the New Testament, baptism was always the mark of conversion. It gave forgiveness of sins, but more importantly – that is when Christians receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (the only non-baptism gifts of the Holy Spirit were to confirm that specific groups of outliers in that society were allowed by God to become Christians). Children who only said a prayer were never truly converted and don’t have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to help them – one of the reasons they struggle so much.
This book is an absolute must read for all parents of young children, church leaders and anyone who works with kids and teens. Ironically, I’m not sure it has quite as much value for the parents whose children have rejected God – other than hope and purpose. Read this book and prayerfully consider making the changes that will save young people – in truly godly ways. It’s worth the time and effort it will take you to reach those young people, because in many cases it will help the reader grow spiritually, too.
This book was given to me for free in exchange for my honest review. An affiliate link is included for your convenience.