Why Are We Losing
We properly make great efforts to take the gospel to the whole world. Many noble deeds and sacrifices are being made by many people in this effort. God will bless them for it! At the same time, while it is not true of all, many are losing their children. Even leaders in the church have suffered such losses. Compare the number of small children in Bible study with the number of young people in the teenage and young adult classes and you can see that somewhere along the line we have many “dropouts.” Faithful brethren who labor among the youth warn of the increasing apostasy among the young, the lack of genuine spirituality, a growing Biblical ignorance, disrespect for Biblical authority and either the inability or unwillingness to stand for the truth even when taught. Again, we want to say this is not an indictment of all. But it is true of many, even many who have been reared in what we consider Christian homes.
From what are they being lost? To what are they being lost? They are being lost from the church, truth and from efforts to restore New Testament Christianity in every generation. They are being lost to other religions, denominations, non-religion, anti-religion, atheistic and worldly pursuits. Many who are retained are lukewarm and indifferent. Some have estimated that as high as fifty per cent of our young people, “reared in the church,” are leaving. Some even say the rate is higher. What is being lost are precious souls. These are souls with good opportunity to go to heaven settling into a course of life that leads to hell.
Why is this drain taking place? Can we plug it before others go that way? Some years ago I spent several months inquiring, reading, interviewing, questioning young people, parents, teachers, anyone who has much to do with the spiritual life of the young, seeking answers to this problem. An analysis of my findings show there are a number of factors that are contributing to the loss of our young.
It Starts in the Home
Basically, the attitude and action of the home dominates the scene. The fault lies there more than any other place. We like to blame everybody and everything other than where the blame really lies. There is no profit in that approach. The home is not the sole cause, but it is probably the prime cause of the loss of the young. We need to take this medicine and do something about it. Parents cannot “play church,” putting other things first, and then expect their young to put God first. It seldom happens. Parents have failed so often to teach by word and example what a Christian should be.
God placed the prime responsibility of spiritual training of a child on parents (Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4, Genesis 18:19: Deuteronomy 11:19). We need to study, not just passively read, these verses. The first business of every parent is to see to it that the child knows God and his duty to God.
Parents display such attitudes that are sickening and disgusting. “They are young only once. Let them have their fun and good times.” We need to learn that no time is a good time that does not put God first. To indulge the young is detrimental to them. They become ill-equipped to meet their sacred duties. This attitude implies that it is unpleasant to serve God. It is just a deprivation. It suggests that there is plenty of time someday to learn about God. To say they are young only once suggests that possibly God does not know that. Yet, God says, Ecclesiastes 12:1, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth."
What Do You Expect?
Can we rear a child fifteen or so years in the atmosphere where God, the church, truth, Christianity and morality are secondary to school, games, television, pleasure, movies, etc. and expect them to be grounded in first things first? Children are taught at home what is of prime importance.
Can we allow children to pursue social interests, conform to the crowd, seek popularity, engage in unchristian recreation, lasciviousness behavior, filling their minds with the moral trash produced by the degenerate minds of the movie, magazine and television industries and then expect them to love the pure, noble, moral and clean things of life?
Can we hold out to them the idea that “success” is financial success, acceptance, worldly recognition, and expect them to follow the Christ who never sought such things?
Too many parents have neglected to teach and demonstrate in their own lives the loyalty God expects from a Christian. Yet, somehow, they think their children will seek what is good above all else. Yes, the problem of losing our young is first and foremost, above all else, a reflection of the home.
Some young people are lost when they enter into circumstances that discourage Christianity. Sometimes it may be unavoidable such as when they might be forced from home into the armed forces. The trials are hard and they need every encouragement and prayer. Many are lost, or at least show their lack of concern for Christ, during the years when they seek higher formal education at colleges and universities where God and His will are considered irrelevant and stupid. Take a young boy or girl out of high school and sit him at the feet of some "wise" scoffer and mocker who take shots at God all the time, teaching infidelity as if he knew everything, it certainly has a detrimental effect on many youths. They hear the truth ridiculed and they do not know enough truth to resist the error, nor are they in a position to be able to defend it even if they were informed. The devil has many of his servants in the chairs of learning in our educational systems.
A Major Drain
Others are lost by disregarding the Lord’s teaching regarding marriage. They marry outside the church and are further drawn away from the truth. They ignore God’s laws on marriage and divorce (too often having been led astray by false teachers in the church regarding this subject), and once finding themselves in a bad circumstance, they remain there rather than please God and repent of their sinful state and come out of it. Often young people are subjected to a divided home religiously or where one or both parents are indifferent toward God. This has destroyed the faith that could and should have been nurtured.
Still others become the victims of those who constantly berate the Lord’s church, criticize it, belittle it and reduce it to nothing more than a denomination among denominations that needs restructuring. These liberal, lying, “new lights” often speak of the church as being out-of-date, answering questions nobody is asking, lacking love, full of tradition, hypocritical, stagnant, etc. How can any person constantly hear that Satanic barrage and have respect for the church? They lose interest when they are convinced of such harangue. Such critics often cater to, adopt and admire the message and methods of denominations. They like to impress the young with their sensationalism, emotionalism, promotionalism, “Jive talk,” unorthodox dress and conduct. They create and then exploit what they call the “generation gap,” and wean the young away from the wise counsel of faithful parents, godly elders and sound gospel preachers. They call for an abandonment of the past, whatever it was, and adoption of the “new” even if it is not true.
Negligent Older People
Parents and church leaders and teachers too often sit idly by, complacent, gullible, naive, even cooperating with such things, and uproot the sound and religious heritage our young deserve. That heritage includes faith in God, love for family, love for the church of the Bible, the sanctity of the home, conformity to God’s standards of morality. Too many young are being served huge helpings of modernism, immorality, compromise, permissiveness, foul speech, Marxism, anarchy, rebellion, “down with everything, and up with nothing.” The “do your own thing” attitude has captured the souls of many, and this “go along to get along” sickness that is often evident among some older people has taken many of the young away from God.
These critics of God’s way are sometimes politicians whose personal lives are in shambles, educators who worship at the altar of their own wisdom, the social gospel clergymen who do not have much regard for the soul of man or his eternal destiny. Some act more like brotherhood “fun and games” directors who are called “youth ministers,” who think it is the work of the church to provide playgrounds, gymnasiums, pleasure trips, etc., and put their emphasis there. Many “youth seminars” have been little more than sessions to convince the youth that the elderships, gospel preachers and parents who hold to the Word of God are “irrelevant.” Too many youth leaders impose the adventuresome, inquisitive spirit of youth to exploring paths that have repeatedly proven digressive. The efforts of godly and determined Christian parents have no more deadly enemy among the young that these flighty, flippant, “cute,” know-it-all youth workers who constantly ape liberal digressives and degrade the Lord’s church and ridicule the nobility of the past.
The church has a role regarding parents and youth. It is the same role that it sustains to all people, young and old. It is not to assume the work of the parents and home, providing recreation, secular education, etc. It ought not coddle and condone sins regardless of who is involved. Rather than thinking the answer lies with singles classes, single again classes, youth seminars where brainwashing goes on, week-end retreats that take the young away from Lord’s Day congregational worship in favor of “lakeside worship,” the church has the God-given task of preaching and teaching the same saving gospel to everyone. To “preach the word” by reproving, rebuking, and exhorting is the work of the church. Ignorance of the Word of God and the lack of respect for it is at the heart and base of the loss of young people. It would be better to study the Word rather than engage in “problem solving” where participants share ignorance. The church deserves the full support and cooperation by every home in assisting in such efforts.
Did You Ever Consider This?
We must add that parents have a duty to other parents. It is sinful to place stumbling blocks before young people. Parents and their young are responsible for their influence. It is not merely “my own business” what my young people do, where they go, how they dress, what they are allowed to do. Inasmuch as young people influence one another, and peer pressure is heavy, parents have the responsibility to see to it that their young set a good example. It is not unheard that young people who are trying to do right, and parents who are trying to train them right, meet with the most aggravating opposition from other “Christian" parents and young people who are content to follow the world. We have heard it said, “It’s nobody’s business but ours if my children attend the dance.” That is as false as a three dollar bill. Every member of the church, parent, child, elderships, preachers and all are effected, or should I say infected, adversely. We need to ask if the influence of our home is contributing to the cause of Christ and encouraging Christlike conduct, or is it as often as not like the influence of the sinful world.
Every young person is a gift from God. None can be lost without it being an eternal loss. Experience warns that many do fall away. Let us resolve that we shall make that number as small as possible. Teach the young, show the young, what being a Christian really is. Follow the teaching of the Bible, not the ways of the world. Show them how to resist the influences that are evil when they cannot avoid them. But many of these influences can be avoided with parental concern, teaching and guidance.
There is not one young person we can afford to lose. Are you really willing for your son or daughter to go to hell? Certainly, you are not. Just how studious and diligent are your efforts at home and in the local church to see to it that they follow Christ?
1. From what, and to what, are we losing our children?
2. Where can the correction of this drain be best executed?
3. Discuss the expectation of children to be faithful without the proper example set
4. How important is the teaching regarding marriage?
5. What is the role of the home and the church in preventing the loss of our children?
6. How great is the spiritual loss of a child?
7. Name some influences that contribute to losing our children.