Youth Must Be MAIN Focus of the Church

The Church is failing its children, with devastating consequences. This must change.

I believe the following will convince you of the importance of inculcating a biblical worldview in children if the church is to survive.  Most of the following information is from studies by George Barna’s book, “Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions”  and James Dobson’s book, “Children at Risk” and Nehemiah Institute.

Barna’s studies point to a diminished role of the church. Unless there is a profound change, many believe that the American church will become as irrelevant as the European church within the next 10 – 15 years.

Nearly half of all Americans who accept Jesus Christ as their savior do so before reaching the age of 13 (43%), and two out of three born again Christians (64%) made that commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday. One out of eight born again people (13%) made their profession of faith while 18 to 21 years old. Less than one out of every four born again Christians (23%) embraced Christ after their twenty-first birthday.

Unfortunately most churches place 85% of their resources on adults and only 15% on children.  Only 4% of churches have a Christian school and according to Nehemiah’s Institute’s testing of children only about 3% of existing Christian schools are successful in inculcating a Christian worldview.  A person’s behavior stems directly from their worldview.  But very few Americans know how to integrate core biblical principles to form a unified and meaningful response to the issues with which we’re confronted.  

The study by the Council on Family Life reported that we are losing 88% of children to the world.  That’s the optimistic study.  George Barna states that we’re losing 96%!  This should be the main issue confronting the church. 

A child’s worldview is developed and influenced by five sources (not in this order):

1.     Family

2.     Church

3.     Peers

4.     Media

5.     School

Today’s child is bombarded with sex, drugs, obscenities, homosexuality and many other negative inputs from numerous sources.

Many families are dysfunctional and even in the average family very little time is spent in meaningful conversation with children. In fact, a study was done by Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner of Cornell University found that the average middle-class father spends 37.7 seconds per day with his young children. Most communication consists of, “Johnny, behave.” 

Studies show that many youth programs have little discipling. Even those churches that have a strong youth program cannot overcome 30 – 35 hours a week of secular indoctrination in the public school. 

Almost ninety percent of Christians send their children to public secular schools, which every year become increasingly anti-Christian.  For all practical purposes children’s programming by television and movies consist of secular messages filled with images that are primarily sexual or violent, and their peers generally have an entirely secular worldview.

Consequentially, most children, even if they come from an intact family, attend church, profess a relationship with Christ and have been baptized, nevertheless hold a compartmentalized worldview.  They are Sunday Christians and Monday – Saturday secularists.

In 2007 there were 18 million evangelicals – 8% of the population. Being classified as an evangelical is not dependent upon church attendance or the denominational affiliation of the church they attend.  Evangelical is the term used for those having born again and holding the following 7 criteria:

1.     That absolute moral truths exist and that such truth is defined by the Bible

2.     That Jesus Christ lived a sinless life.

3.     That God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and still rules today.

4.     That salvation is a gift of God and cannot be earned.

5.     That Satan is real.

6.     That a Christian has a responsibility to share their faith.

7.     That the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings.

Studies by George Barna reveal that only:

9% of born again Christians have a biblical worldview

7% of protestants have a biblical worldview

8% of Baptists have a biblical worldview

½ of 1% of Catholics have a biblical worldview

Those with a biblical worldview are:

·       31 times less likely to accept cohabitation

·       18 times less likely to accept drunkenness

·       11 times less likely to describe adultery as morally acceptable

·       ½ of 1 % believe abortion is acceptable

·       ½ of 1 % believe pornography is acceptable

·       2 times more likely to have discussed spiritual matters during the prior month.

Half of Christians were led to Christ by their parents, with another one in five led by some other friend or relative. Comparatively few accepted Jesus in response to a minister’s personal prompting (7%) and only one out of eight cited a special event as the turning point in their journey.

·       Mosaics – Ages 13 – 21

·       Buster –    Ages 25 – 43

·       Boomer – Ages 44 – 62

·       Builders – Ages 63 – 81

·       Senior –    Ages 82 & Older

Mosaics who embraced Christ during their high school or college years are less likely than other believers to describe themselves as “deeply spiritual.” They donate substantially less money to churches than do other Christians and are less likely to engage in lifestyle evangelism. Postmodernism is the dominant worldview of  Busters and Mosaics. 

One of the most stunning outcomes from the Barna survey was the moral behavior among adults under 25. Mosaics are less likely than any other generation to be born again. The younger generation was more than twice as likely as all other adults to engage in behaviors considered morally inappropriate by traditional standards. 

For instance, two-thirds of the under-25 segment (64%) had used profanity in public, compared to just one out of five Boomers (19%). The younger group – known as Mosaics – was nine times more likely than were Boomers to have engaged in sex outside of marriage (38% vs. 4%), six times more likely to have lied (37% vs. 6%), almost three times more likely to have gotten drunk (25% vs. 9%) and to have gossiped (26% vs. 10%), and twice as likely as Boomers to have observed pornography (33% vs. 16%) and to have engaged in acts of retaliation (12% vs. 5%). 

At least three out of ten born again adults say that co-habitation, gay sex, sexual fantasies, breaking the speed limit or watching sexually-explicit movies are morally acceptable behaviors. They are the least likely age group to indicate that faith is a very important part of their life.  

When someone is born again during their adult years, their beliefs are an inconsistent blend of biblical and non-biblical ideas that lead to some unusual lifestyles and some questionable evangelistic explanations. Roman Catholics represent the second largest denominational group of born-again Christians in the nation – trailing the Southern Baptists, but way ahead of Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and others.

You can’t give people what you don’t have. The low percentage of Christians who have a biblical worldview is a direct reflection of the fact that half of our primary religious teachers and leaders do not have one.  Based on interviews with 601 Senior Pastors nationwide, representing a random cross-section of Protestant churches, Barna reports that only half of the country’s Protestant pastors – 51% – have a biblical worldview.

Southern Baptists had the highest percentage of pastors with a biblical worldview (71%) while the Methodists were lowest among the seven segments evaluated (27%).  The largest gap related to gender. Whereas 53% of male pastors have a biblical worldview, the same can be said for just 15% of female pastors.

Although attending church as a child increases the likelihood of a person attending as an adult, that effect is declining substantially.  Since 1991, the adult population in the United States has grown by 15%. During that same period the number of adults who do not attend church has nearly doubled, rising from 39 million to 75 million – a 92% increase! 

By the end of the decade, 50 million Americans will seek to have their spiritual experience solely through the Internet, rather than at a church; and upwards of 100 million Americans will rely upon the Internet to deliver some aspects of their religious experience.

Here’s what I see happening to the church: Widespread Mosaic and Buster flight from the institutions and movements we have labored for so long to build up. Classic damage control by Boomers compensating for a younger generation of irreverent and incompetent wanna-bes.  Ultimately, the further dilapidation (and, in some cases, collapse) of the local church as we know it today. There are many churches where this scenario is already beginning.

People do not get a biblical worldview simply by regularly attending church. A biblical worldview must be both taught and caught – that is, it has to be explained and modeled.

Clearly, there are huge segments of the Christian body that are missing the benefit of such a comprehensive and consistent expression of biblical truth. 

The research also points out that even in churches where the pastor has a biblical worldview, most of the congregants do not. More than six out of every seven congregants in the typical church do not share the biblical worldview of their pastor even when he or she has one.

This intimates that merely preaching good sermons and offering helpful programs does not enable most believers to develop a practical and scriptural theological base to shape their life. The research among people who have a biblical worldview shows that it is a long-term process that requires a lot of purposeful activity: teaching, prayer, conversation and accountability. 

Based on correlations of worldview and moral behavior, we can confidently argue that if the 51% of pastors who have a biblical worldview were to strategically and relentlessly assist their congregants in adopting such a way of interpreting and responding to life, the impact on churches, families and society would be enormous.

There are numerous ways in which any church regardless of its size can assist parents in the nurture and admonition of children to love the Lord.  I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss this issue and give you a book by Dr. Elwin McIntyre containing the story of how he started a day care center and now owns 11 Christian schools in S.W. Florida inculcating a Biblical worldview to 2,000 children. 

The ministry I serve, Frontline Ministry’s Exodus Mandate Project does not charge for any of our services. 

BIBLICAL PASSAGES RELATING TO NURTURE OF CHILDREN

1. The education of children and youth is the primary responsibility of parents.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:18-21; Psalm 78;1-7; Psalm 127:3; Proverbs 22:6; Malachi 2: 13-16; Ephesians 6:4

2. The education of children and youth is a 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week process that continues from birth till maturity. Deuteronomy 6:7; 11: 19; Proverbs 22:6

3. The education of children and youth must have as its primary goals the salvation of and discipleship of the next generation. Psalm 78:6-7; Matthew 28:19-20

4. The education of children and youth must be based on God’s Word as absolute Truth. Matthew 24:35; Psalm 119

5. The education of children and youth must hold Christ as preeminent in all of life. Colossians 2:3, 6-10

6. The education of children and youth must not hinder the spiritual and . moral development of the next generation.  Matthew 18:6; 19: 13-14; Mark 10: 13-16; Luke 18: 15-17

7. The education of children and youth, if and when delegated to others by parents, must be done by teachers chosen with utmost care to ensure that they all follow these principles. Exodus 18:21; I Samuel 1:27-28; 3:1-10

8. The education of children and youth results in the formation of a belief system or world view that will be patterned after the belief systems or world­ views of the person’s teachers. Luke 6:40

9. The education of children and youth must have a view of the future-that includes the eternal perspective.  Colossians 3:1-2; Matthew 6:19-20; 2 Timothy 4:6-8; Acts 20:24; Hebrews 11:13; Colossians 3:23-24

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