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Investing in the Future

One of the definitions of "invest" is "to be engaged with or involved with." Today, we are privileged to join the founder and president of Reasons for Hope, Carl Kerby, as he discusses the value of investing in our most precious commodity.
Recently, while researching, I ran across some statistics that broke my heart.
It is now a common statistic in Christian circles to hear that 50% to 88% of the youth raised in the church walk away from their faith by the time they reach age 18.  In many ways, that’s too simplistic, and the problem runs much deeper. Why do I say that?
First, from an article entitled “Gallup: Less Than Half of Evangelicals Believe Bible Is ‘Actual Word of God,’”1 we read that:
  • Less than half of self-described evangelicals, or born-again Christians, believe that the Bible is literally God’s Word.
  • Sadly, 8% of evangelicals stated the Bible was “an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man.
  • Among all U.S. adults surveyed, just 20% say the Bible is the literal Word of God.
  • Collectively, 29% of Americans now say the Bible is merely a compilation of “fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man.
  • Only 30% of Protestants say the Bible is literally true, while just 15% of Catholics believe this.
The problem isn’t JUST with our youth―doubt and confusion are pervasive throughout all age groups.  The fact that only 20% of Christians believe the Bible to be the literal Word of God means that most Christian adults are passing a faith along to the next generation that doesn’t make sense and is easy to walk away from.
We hear so much about the “deconstruction” occurring among many high-profile “Christians.”  I would say that isn’t the problem. The problem is that their faith was never entirely “constructed” to begin with!  They’re walking away from something they know very little about and towards something they know even less about.
Research done by Arizona Christian University supports this claim.  This research reveals that of an estimated 176 million American adults who identify as Christian, just 6% or 15 million of them actually hold a Biblical worldview.2
This is bad, but other research about the belief of pastors was even worse! This reality, as shown below, is a core problem that MUST be addressed.
The CRC study showed that a biblical worldview is held by only:
  • 41 % of Senior/Lead pastors,
  • 28 % of Assistant pastors,
  • 13 % of Teaching pastors, and
  • 12 % of children’s/youth pastors.3
Simply put, you can only pour out what you have in you. So, if only two-fifths of the senior/lead pastors have a biblical worldview, what are the other three-fifths pouring into their flock?
And, if I may be so bold, even if the senior/lead pastor has a biblical worldview, are they making sure their assistant, teaching, and youth pastors are like-minded?  With the numbers so out of whack, I don’t see how that’s taking place. To borrow a well-known phrase from inventor Ron Popeil, “But wait, there’s more!”  Because that’s not the biggest problem.
A key factor that keeps young people from rejecting their faith is the influence and impact their parents have on their lives, confirmed in Proverbs 22:6.  There we read:

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Please allow me to emphasize that this verse does not guarantee that if you, as a parent, do everything perfectly, your child will come to the Lord.  OR, even if you mess everything up, they WON’T come to the Lord.
This verse is also not a guarantee of salvation because our children, like us, are free moral agents.  Some will choose to follow the Lord, and others will choose not to follow the Lord.  However, if a parent is serious, sincere, and active in their faith, there is a strong likelihood and statistical correlation that their children will remain faithful.
In an article entitled, “Trajectories of Religious Participation from Adolescence to Young Adulthood,” in the Journal For The Scientific Study of Religion, Richard J. Petts reported that:
“Residing with two biological parents and in a religious family increases the likelihood that youth attend religious services throughout adolescence.”4 
Additionally, studies done by the Pew Research Center showed that:
“Nearly all parents say their teen has at least some of the same religious beliefs as them.”5
Please look at the chart provided (from the same source as the above quotation) and notice the “Evangelical” statistics:
Notice that 65% of “evangelicals” shared “All of the same beliefs,” and 34% shared “Some of the same” religious beliefs.  Only 2% were “Quite different.”

Also, note the impact “Worship attendance” had.  If they attended worship services “Monthly or more,”65% shared “All of the same beliefs,” and 33% shared “Some of the same” religious beliefs. Only 2% were “Quite different,” which is extremely telling.

Having a lead pastor who doesn’t trust the Word of God and teaches incorrect theology ISN’T THE PRIMARY PROBLEM! The fact that we attend a church that allows that junk to be taught is the problem.

Parents, we must take responsibility for what is happening to our children.
  • Having a youth pastor in our church who teaches the Word of God incorrectly, ISN’T THE PRIMARY PROBLEM!  The fact that we let our child go to that youth group, allowing that “pastor” to influence our child, is the problem.
  • Having a lead pastor who doesn’t trust the Word of God and teaches incorrect theology ISN’T THE PRIMARY PROBLEM! The fact that we attend a church that allows that junk to be taught is the problem.
  • TV/movies and media that are attacking Christians and Christianity at an increasing rate ISN’T THE PRIMARY PROBLEM!  The fact that we allow our children to spend so much time in front of a TV or device teaching that mess is the problem.
So, what are we to do? “It’s overwhelming, Carl, and all you’re doing is attacking and making us feel worse!”  That’s not my heart or goal.
Here’s the goal: We want to bring awareness of the issue and offer practical advice about approaching this problematic issue. We have done that through the production of Within Our Reach, a video in which we address these issues and offer simple, practical ideas for what you can do as a family to turn these numbers around.
Click below to watch the trailer for this film.
PLEASE, take the time to watch this free video. Then, share it with your small group, youth group, and home church and discuss the ideas presented.  The bottom line is this: We need to start the conversation and engage with our children and grandchildren. 

To access the full-length video and accompanying handout, please click HERE.
Don’t give up! They ARE . . . “Within Our Reach”!

STAY BOLD!

1Access this research at https://decisionmagazine.com/gallup-less-than-half-of-evangelicals-believe-bible-is-actual-word-of-god/. 
2Access this research at https://www.arizonachristian.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/CRC_AWVI2021_Release06_Digital_01_20210831.pdf. 
3Read the full article at https://www.christianpost.com/news/only-37-of-pastors-have-a-biblical-worldview-barna.html
4Read the full article at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2009.01465.x
5Access this study at https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2020/09/10/shared-beliefs-between-parents-and-teens/pf_09-10-20_religion-teens-05-0/. 
To learn more about our Founder and President, Carl Kerby, or to book him as a speaker, please click HERE.
Read Carl’s testimony and his heart for ministry in his book, Reasons for Hope in the Mosaic of Your Life. Available HERE at our Reasons for Hope Store.

We Have an App for That!

To encourage you in your walk with Christ, download our free app where you will find hundreds of digital resources to train and equip you in staying bold in your faith. Just click HERE, and look for the blue asterisk on the black background.

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