j0289346I have just wasted an hour of my life which will never be recovered.

The estimable Green Baggins — the Revd Lane Keister, a PCA pastor — has excellent, thought-provoking posts on Reformed, often Presbyterian, theology.

A post of his from June 2014 concerns the number of young churchgoers who drift into unbelief.

‘A Very Disturbing Book’ discusses Already Gone by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer with Todd Hillard.

Keister tells us (italics in the original, emphasis in bold mine):

based on the research of Britt Beemer … very few people who leave the church do so because college started them on the road to doubt. In fact, they were already gone! Their doubts started (in 88% of the 20-year olds who were interviewed!) in middle school and high school. Folks, we are losing our children long before college.

Keister goes on to say that Already Gone lays the blame with Sunday School not offering enough apologetics (theologically-considered reasons) for the Christian faith, not enough emphasis is placed on six-literal-day creation and that parents are abdicating their children’s education to Sunday School teachers.

My interest piqued, I went to read the 456 comments which followed and was very disappointed indeed. Almost all of them debated Young Earth versus Old Earth creation.

Only three pointed to the necessity of teaching a belief in our own sinfulness and that loving, merciful, forgiving Jesus Christ died on the Cross for our redemption.

No wonder our children are leaving!

No one offered any practical solutions. Now, this is not intended as a criticism of either Keister, his contributors or his readers.

However, if after 456 comments, no one can come up with concrete solutions other than making six-day-literal creation the hill on which to die, then, it is not surprising that youngsters are deserting the Church.

This is a perfect, albeit unintentional, illustration of where the American church is failing.

Only a few people highlighted the real walls we are coming up against. (I disagree with their condemnation of science.) This is true also in other parts of the world:

– Too much worldliness on display, including at school: materialism, sexual activity, general self-satisfaction.

– Lack of parental instruction in the faith.

– A disregard for the traditional meaning of Sunday — a time for rest and for worship.

My solutions:

1/ Parents who are concerned for their children’s salvation really must begin religious education at home as soon as possible. I could recite short prayers by the time I was three years old. That is not intended as a boast, but rather as an expression of gratitude to my mother who taught them to me and told me how wonderful Jesus is. I also had small children’s books about Jesus and the Bible as well as young children’s prayerbooks.

2/ Sunday Schools should start teaching the short catechism as soon as possible. I still have my short version which I began learning by heart at the age of six. The teacher gave us as weekly homework five questions whose answers we had to memorise for the following week. It worked. I still can recite many of these by heart. We also had workbook exercises to complete, which the teacher graded at the next lesson.

3/ Learning the Bible, particularly the New Testament, is essential. Memorising short verses from the New Testament and being able to locate them in the text when asked is very useful in learning Scripture.

4/ A godly example in the home, particularly from fathers, is highly important in fostering a child’s experience of the Christian way of life. Keeping the Sabbath is also essential.

Please feel free to add more in the comments. A number of readers are parents themselves, so it would be helpful to know what works and what does not.

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