Top Ten List: How to Help Your Child Permanently Leave the Church

discipleship, disciple making, parents, children

Between 75% and 94% of children from Christian homes are leaving the church shortly after they graduate from high school. 99.5% of young adults between the age of 18 and 23 do not have a biblical worldview. What are the top ways that parents can keep this trend going?

We admit this is a rather negative and cynical list, and in some cases extreme. But believe it or not, this is the way that some children from church-going families are being raised.

The good news is that Jesus showed us how to do the very opposite of this top ten list!

10.  Don’t develop a relationship with your children. Spend very little time with them. Take jobs that require travel and start hobbies and activities that allow you to take a break from your family. When you are with your children, stay busy with watching television, social networking… anything that keeps you from interacting with them. Don’t listen to your children or talk with them. Let your children solve their bothersome issues with their peers. Or half-listen to your children while you are doing other things. Whatever you do, don’t make eye contact.

9.   Send your children to be taught and trained by unbelievers. Don’t bother to correct errors that are being taught to your children. Assume that the trained professionals will teach safe, non-threatening curriculum that is required by the school system.

8.   Make sure your child is taught relativism, macro evolution and unbiblical lifestyles as normal. After all, children need to make their own choices. It is normal to believe that we are all here by random chance. What did God have to do with that? Don’t be concerned with any promotion of promiscuous (safe) sex between members of the same sex or opposite sex.

7.   Don’t teach your children scripture and biblical principles. Don’t worry about obeying scripture to teach to your children the Bible. Allow clergy to do the job once or twice per week.  After all, you are not a trained expert. Let the experts do their job! Just be sure your children make a profession of faith.

6.  Immerse your children in popular television, movies, social networking and music. Don’t limit or monitor what your children engage in. Make sure they have their own television, cell phone, computer and boom box. Occult? No problem. Alternative lifestyles? Whatever. Take your children to see all the popular movies and make sure you listen to all the popular music. Get all the cable channels and let them watch it as much as possible!

5.   Normalize promiscuous sex and violence with your children. Buy your son popular video games that include sex and violence. Allow your son to kill as many bad guys as he wants to, and what’s the harm with a little fantasy sex?  Encourage your daughter to watch television and movies with lots of teen romance and sex. Buy her romance novels. Children need to have fun and take out their frustrations with media; after all it’s only “pretend.”

4.  Allow your children to go alone wherever they want and with whomever they want. Don’t keep your children under your protection and don’t monitor what they are doing. Make sure your children are with unbelievers all day long so they can be “salt and light.”  Forget about the fact that Jesus was always with His adult disciples when they were “salt and light.” The fact that He sent them out in twos with other Christian adults for protection is irrelevant. Your children should be able to choose their own friends; they will be a positive influence.

3.  Make sure your children go off to the best secular college and sow their wild oats. You want to make sure your children can make lots of money so don’t worry about what your teens are being taught. Co-ed dorms are acceptable; your teens need to sow their wild oats. Just make sure no one gets pregnant, and make sure they keep their grades up.

2.  Rather than involving your family in a ministry, be a spectator at church. Drop your children off at all the entertaining programs. Don’t worry about ministering to others in need; that’s the job of the pastors and ministers.

1.  Don’t enthusiastically discuss the Lord with your family. Also don’t pray with and for your children. When you talk with your children, teach them about things that almost everyone is really interested in; sports, television, movie stars, athletes, movies, secular music, buying new things, and having fun. Help your children to see that thinking about God is for Sunday mornings; the rest of the week is for doing what really matters.

In doing the above, you will have ensured that your children have been fully discipled by the world (80 to 100 hours per week), and the minimal time that they have spent at church (1 to 5 hours per week) will make little difference. As statistics show, they will likely join the crowd of those permanently departing the church.

Alan Melton

Disciple Like JesusAlan Melton is the founder of Disciple Like Jesus ministry and co-author of "Disciple Like Jesus For Parents." The ministry encourages parents and grandparents to disciple their children in the same manner that Jesus made disciples. His articles have been featured in numerous publications, and he speaks at churches, associations and conferences. Alan has served the Lord as a church planter, pastor-elder, deacon chairman and business owner. He led Evangelism Explosion and FAITH evangelism training ministries for 10 years and juvenile delinquent ministries for 16 years. Married to Donna since 1977, he has two children, Jennifer and Ryan.


Comments

Great post. I agree with

Great post. I agree with everything you said (especially #10 and #2), but in #9 and #3 you seem to be discourage parents from sending their children to secular schools.

I graduated from high school a little over 4 years ago and have now had some time to watch the paths my friends from high school have taken. I was raised by Christian parents and I went to a secular high school, but because of my involvement with youth group I made friends with a fair amount of students from the Christian school across town.

From what I've observed, attending a Christian high school has little to no effect on whether or not someone remains a full hearted follower of Christ four years later. Perhaps my experience is not typical, I don't know.

I'm now about to graduate from secular college and I'm glad I went to school here. It's been really hard, but I've had a great church community to help pull me through it. Every day I get to be the only tangible expression of Christ most of my friends will see that day and I love it.

When I go back to my hometown, I often hear parents talking about how spiritually dark secular schools are. They're right, but pulling out all the students raised by Godly Christian parents is just going to make things worse. My college has a small Christian population, but there are 8,000 students at a Christian college 20 minutes down the road. Think of the amazing things that could happen if a bunch of them transferred to my campus with the intent of growing the impact of the body of Christ here.

Don't get me wrong, I do believe Christian schools have their place. Some high school students genuinely do need to be in that safe environment and Christian universities are an important tangible representation of Christianity in a culture and teach deep biblical knowledge to the future leaders of the Church. I'm just sick of parents telling me I'm "special" because I can handle the pressures of a secular school – I'm not special, I've just been practicing since I was 5 years old.

The difference maker in whether someone follows Christ after they leave youth group depends on whether they've fallen in love with Jesus Christ and depend on him to be their Lord and Savior – it's that mysterious individual relationship inside their heart that makes the difference. Separatism can easily subconsciously teach kids that our faith is about being sheltered from the outside world instead of radically transforming it.

WOW! Talk about being

WOW! Talk about being discouageing instead of empowering! You did a REALLY good job if you want to be the reason alot of adults want to stay away from the church.

Hi Tyler and

Hi Tyler and Anonymous,

Thanks for your thoughts and comments. You both have good points. This was an unusual post for me; you will generally find encouraging comments on our blog and website.

On this article I decided to take the opposite approach to give parents a "wake up call." Notice my disclaimer at the beginning of the article.

Regarding the "salt and light" debate (and every other issue that might be open to debate) we try to take the position of Jesus Himself; thus the name of our ministry "Disciple Like Jesus." What did He do? We believe that Jesus knew how to make disciples better than anyone.

After looking at the way Jesus made disciples in Scripture (the gospels and even the 23rd Psalm), it seems pretty clear that Jesus did not send His disciples to be trained by unbelievers; He personally trained them. He didn't send them out at all until they were fully trained, and then He sent them out in two's with other believing adults(as lambs among wolves). It seems reasonable to conclude that if He would not send grown men out alone, then children and even young adults would benefit by similar protection from wolves.

Jesus told us to be "salt and light" but then also showed us how to do it. He was "salt and light" WITH His disciples.

Now are are at least two examples in scripture where children/teenagers were trained by unbelievers and still served the Lord; Daniel and Moses. But these were exceptions and in both cases their parents were forced to send them to unbelievers.

We have some "Daniels" today as well! Some people like Tyler are given the gift by the Lord to stand up to an ungodly culture. I tend to think of "Daniels" as the remnant; God is going to preserve a few saints regardless of whether parents obey the Great Commission or not. If you are called to be a "Daniel" then you better obey, but you should encourage non-Daniels to do the same.

The danger that parents face is assuming that since the parent is a "Daniel," their children will be just like them. Parents should obey the Great Commission instead, which means making disciples in the way that Jesus showed us.

Jesus said that we "will know a tree by its fruit." Since church going parents are losing most of their children(only 1 in 200 young adults have a biblical worldview) its pretty clear to see sending children to be discipled by unbelievers is not working. Jesus told us that a student will become like their master.

Parents are commanded to train their children in Deuteronomy 6, in Proverbs, in Ephesians, and most importantly in Matthew 28. God forbid that parents disobey.

Correction to paragraph

Correction to paragraph above:

We have some "Daniels" today as well! Some people like Tyler are given the gift by the Lord to stand up to an ungodly culture. I tend to think of "Daniels" as the remnant; God is going to preserve a few saints regardless of whether parents obey the Great Commission or not. If you are called to be a "Daniel" then you better obey, but you should ...NOT!!!... encourage non-Daniels to do the same.

I think bigger than many of

I think bigger than many of these problems is the quality and relevancy of ministry to those in late high school and college. Often times kids are a senior and are faced with the choice leave youth group or be a yoth leader. Or they go off to college and find themselves away from a good group of Christian peers. Churches need to provide quality college age ministry and honestly I don't know if I've ever seen that anywhere!

Also i think teens will be teens and once they are a certain age I think it's counter productive for parents to limit media! The relationship is far more impotent than a violent video game. I know by 7th grade I was making tapes of kid rock and limp bizkit (what was I thinking??? Ughhh) and my mom would take them say and I'd just go do it again, and again and again.

Alan, thanks for your

Alan, thanks for your response. That's one of the most intelligent and most well thought out responses I've heard in defense of Christian schools and I appreciate the effort you put into that.

I was blessed to have four different youth pastors through my Jr. High and High School years who were all absolutely amazing men. Two-thirds of our youth group was at public schools, they discipled us by being "salt and light" with us, just like you said.

In addition to the regular youth group meetings, they surfed, played intramural sports, went to football games, attended battle of the bands, fed the homeless, joined our on campus bible studies and even attended funerals with us and our non-Christian friends whenever it was appropriate for them to. It wasn't that they were there all the time, but enough for us to know they loved us and had our backs.

When we needed help defending our faith, they hosted seminars on apologetics at youth group and on the weekends. Our faiths became strong because they were challenged.

I went to a large high school, I graduated with around 900 people; but there was a tight group of 50 of us that I was a part of. We were nicknamed "the tree people" after a particular tree we usually spent our lunches under. Of the 50 of us, about 5 of us were Christians. At graduation, the majority of that group, believer or not, knew our youth pastor by name, he was that present in our lives.

At the end of the day, I guess our different viewpoints stem from the fact that I don't think it's the teacher's jobs to disciple the students, it's their job to teach them whatever subject they are gifted in teaching. Starting in Jr. High, most of my relationships with my teachers never extended past the classroom. I built deeper relationships with four of five, most of them being the teachers that I did have who were Christians.

My greatest influences were my parents, my youth pastors, and later on in high school, my two adult mentors. My teachers were pretty far down the list. I'm not against Christian schools, I truly believe they need to be there because it is the best environment for lots of students to grow up in; I just think if we pull every student raised by Christian parents out of secular schools with the exception of the lone Daniel here and there those schools are going to keep getting worse and worse.

While we may disagree on exactly how the call to be "salt and light" looks in today's school system, I greatly appreciate your passion to instruct parents on how to raise Godly children so that many may continue to know our good Lord through all their days of their lives.

Alan, thanks for your

Alan, thanks for your response. That's one of the most intelligent and most well thought out responses I've heard in defense of Christian schools and I appreciate the effort you put into that.

I was blessed to have four different youth pastors through my Jr. High and High School years who were all absolutely amazing men. Two-thirds of our youth group was at public schools, they discipled us by being "salt and light" with us, just like you said.

In addition to the regular youth group meetings, they surfed, played intramural sports, went to football games, attended battle of the bands, fed the homeless, joined our on campus bible studies and even attended funerals with us and our non-Christian friends whenever it was appropriate for them to. It wasn't that they were there all the time, but enough for us to know they loved us and had our backs.

When we needed help defending our faith, they hosted seminars on apologetics at youth group and on the weekends. Our faiths became strong because they were challenged.

I went to a large high school, I graduated with around 900 people; but there was a tight group of 50 of us that I was a part of. We were nicknamed "the tree people" after a particular tree we usually spent our lunches under. Of the 50 of us, about 5 of us were Christians. At graduation, the majority of that group, believer or not, knew our youth pastor by name, he was that present in our lives.

At the end of the day, I guess our different viewpoints stem from the fact that I don't think it's the teacher's jobs to disciple the students, it's their job to teach them whatever subject they are gifted in teaching. Starting in Jr. High, most of my relationships with my teachers never extended past the classroom. I built deeper relationships with four of five, most of them being the teachers that I did have who were Christians.

My greatest influences were my parents, my youth pastors, and later on in high school, my two adult mentors. My teachers were pretty far down the list. I'm not against Christian schools, I truly believe they need to be there because it is the best environment for lots of students to grow up in; I just think if we pull every student raised by Christian parents out of secular schools with the exception of the lone Daniel here and there those schools are going to keep getting worse and worse.

While we may disagree on exactly how the call to be "salt and light" looks in today's school system, I greatly appreciate your passion to instruct parents on how to raise Godly children so that many may continue to know our good Lord through all their days of their lives.

Tyler and Allison, Thanks for

Tyler and Allison,

Thanks for your thoughtful posts as well; the Lord has blessed you by bringing godly people into your life! I really don't prefer Christian school over other ways of education; but I do prefer Christian influences, because influences influence. :-) Pardon my silly redundancy. Here is our recent Facebook post:

"Christian schooling, home schooling, and public schooling can all miss the mark. This is different. This is discipleship." ~ DLJ

The concern I have is that what we are doing now is an utter failure! Right now we are permanently losing between 75% and 94% of children from the church, and 99.5% of young adults do not have a biblical worldview. (Sorry to keep repeating these results, but these gut-wrenching statistics turn my stomach).

The reason that we are permanently losing most of our church-going children from the church is really very simple; since children are being discipled by the world (trained, taught, indoctrinated), they are deciding to follow the lifestyle they have been taught all their lives (through parents, music, TV, movies, school, peers, internet, etc). Unfortunately for most children the influences above are where they are spending 80 to 100 hours per week. Children are only getting 1 to 5 hours per week of Christian influence at the most. They are simply becoming disciples of the world.

Contrast that with Jesus. If you look at the twelve disciples, they were being discipled (trained, taught, indoctrinated) by Jesus for at least 80 to 100 hours per week. He didn't allow any unbelievers to teach His disciples.

If parents will do with their children what Jesus did with His disciples, then most of the cultural issues will be reduced or eliminated. Parents have an 18 year opportunity to make disciples just like Jesus made disciples. Parents can have deep relationships with their children, and the things of the world will have less influence.

Jesus showed us how to make disciples for three years and then commanded parents to make disciples. Will parents obey? Will church leaders equip parents to obey?

I couldn't refrain from

I couldn't refrain from commenting. Exceptionazlly well written!

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