How do you measure success as a parent? Is it when your adult child lands their dream job, gets married, or just turns out to be a nice person?
As I consider my role as a mum in an increasingly secular world, I believe that my success as a parent will come down to one thing… whether my two boys are standing beside me in heaven at the end of time.
They might grow up to be astronauts, sporting legends and/or philanthropists, but if they don’t stand firm in their faith, what does all that matter?
Looking at the state of faith in the world around us, it’s not looking good.
Studies conducted by the Barna Group and USA Today found that nearly 75% of Christian young people fall away from the faith and leave the church after high school.
I’ve watched on as young people I know, grow up in faith-filled homes, and win ‘spiritual maturity’ awards at their Christian schools, then promptly dump their faith the minute they move out.
So, is there hope for this generation?
According to Melanie Saward, author of Deep Faith Resilient Faith, the answer is ‘yes,’ thank goodness!
Regarding the young people who discard their faith, Melanie says, “The missing piece is DEPTH. It has always been a temptation in our Christian culture to become preoccupied with external matters and not those of the heart. In the generations just prior to Millennials, church attendance has been the universal sign of commitment to Christ. While I suspect such observable signs do matter, they have never completely expressed the true picture of a changed heart. Church attendance was not the goal of our faith, the goal was always to be a disciple.”
So, waking your kids up early every Sunday morning, or ‘outsourcing’ their faith journey to a religious school isn’t enough.
A deep, resilient faith goes further than just ‘showing up.’
Thankfully, the studies that found 75% of young people are leaving church, did provide solutions.
Here are the five factors present in the 25% who stayed.
- Eating dinner 5 of 7 nights a week as a family
- Serving with their families in a ministry
- Having one spiritual experience in the home during the week
- Being entrusted with responsibility in ministry at an early age
- Having at least one faith-focused adult in their lives, other than their parents
Melanie says, “These five factors are all signs of a whole community discipling a child. Parents, church leaders, and the larger church community. Truly, they are signs of depth and the priority to instill a deep faith in the next generation. Depth of faith is critical.”
In Mark 4:5, it was the depth of the soil in which a seed was planted that determined its success. Seeds planted amongst rocks or thorns might have started out okay, but they soon disappeared.
So, how’s your soil? My goal is to plant a spiritual garden for my children with soil so deep and rich, so lovingly tended and ruthlessly weeded, that on that great day, I can hand a beautiful bouquet to the Great Gardener (John 15:1).
Article supplied with thanks to Annette Spurr.
About the Author: Annette is a writer and co-founder of Blue Box Media, along with her husband, Phil. They live in Brisbane with their two sons, Tyson & Jack.