Jon Nielson: 3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the Church

Jon Nielson has written an article for churchleaders.com outlining three common traits shared by youth who keep their faith.

Here’s a summary:

1. They are converted.

We need to stop talking about “good kids.” We need to stop being pleased with attendance at youth group and fun retreats. We need to start getting on our knees and praying that the Holy Spirit will do miraculous saving work in the hearts of our students as the Word of God speaks to them.

It is converted students who go on to love Jesus and serve the church.

2. They have been equipped, not entertained.

If I have not equipped the students in my ministry to share the gospel, disciple a younger believer, and lead a Bible study, then I have not fulfilled my calling to them, no matter how good my sermons have been.

3. Their parents preached the gospel to them.

The common thread that binds together almost every ministry-minded 20-something that I know is abundantly clear: a home where the gospel was not peripheral but absolutely central. The 20-somethings who are serving, leading, and driving the ministries at our church were kids whose parents made them go to church. They are kids whose parents punished them and held them accountable when they were rebellious. They are kids whose parents read the Bible around the dinner table every night. And they are kids whose parents were tough but who ultimately operated from a framework of grace that held up the cross of Jesus as the basis for peace with God and forgiveness toward one another.

I agree with points #1 & #2, but believe #3 leaves some things unsaid.

First, many adults today who grew up in Christian households rebelled against their parents and their parent’s faith.

Granted, they were unconverted to begin with, but here’s the point: “force feeding” a faith to someone that is not their own does more harm than good. Mr. Nielson’s article does not take that into account.

Second, Jon’s third point does not imply much hope for kids who do not come from Christian homes. What of those youths whose parents kick them out when they decide to make a commitment to follow Jesus? (And if you think that never happens, visit my church sometime.)

The truth is, many of the strongest Christians I know are those who spent their youths growing up in very poor environments (to put it mildly). They are desperate to live with Jesus today precisely because they lived with the devil yesterday.

I certainly do not mean to say that Christian parents shouldn’t preach the gospel to their children or strive to structure their households around Kingdom principles – they most certainly should – only that there is more to be said as it relates to the folly of “force feeding faith” or working with kids coming from bad situations.

Overall Jon provides good food for thought. Read the full article at churchleaders.com here.

Thanks to @stonedcampbell for the share.

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