Family Worship – Kids are leaving the faith in staggering numbers

Jeremy Cali   -  

It’s 2am and I am staring at the ceiling contemplating all the ways I may not be able to pull off the day. My brain goes a thousand miles per hour with no sleep in sight. The stress of the impending business of tomorrow keeps me far away from any real rest.  Kids, school, work, sports practice in three different directions at the same time.  How are we going to get everyone to and from practice and who is making dinner? When in the world are they going to get to homework? We have to make academics a priority! What am I teaching my kids if I allow sports to overshadow their studies?

I am sure many of you have had these thoughts and sleepless moments before. In mid-march 2020 it all just stopped. Full and immediate shut down of everything we demonstrated we valued with our busy schedules. Over the last few months amidst this COVID-19 pandemic life has been set into a hard re-start.

There are some extremely important questions we have a golden opportunity to ask ourselves as we begin to head back into life.  Given this “hard re-start” opportunity, what should I add back into my life? What should I prioritize, and what should I leave out?

For anyone who has been paying attention, there are startling statistics related to children raised in Christian homes leaving the faith.  According to Voddie Bauchem Jr. in the book “Family Driven Faith,” we are losing the vast majority of our kids in the evangelical church by the time they finish their freshman year of college. Why? Does this trouble us? What can we do about it?

As a father of four children ranging from ages 19 to 2 ½, I have often been challenged by this question. Upon reflection, this challenge has led to downright conviction. Why does my calendar clearly prioritize academic and athletic success with my children? Why have I de-valued the teaching and passing on of the Faith in day to day life?  I would say out loud to anyone who asks that for my children to Love Jesus and dedicate their lives to him is the greatest priority bar none! Nothing even comes close. Why then doesn’t my schedule and practice reflect that? Have I spent those same sleepless nights worried about whether or not my children are learning and being moved by the gospel?

School and academics are very important. Sport’s achievement to a lesser extent can also have value in the lives of our kids.  These are not bad things. However, compared to the surpassing value of our children knowing, loving, and serving Jesus with the rest of their lives, they are completely meaningless!

We have to ask ourselves some tough questions. Dad’s, are we leading our households in consistent family worship? Are we driving home to our children the importance of the Gospel, the word of God, and the Family of Jesus Christ in their lives?  Even though the culture has turned towards club sports and competitions for every other possible activity under the sun on a Sunday morning, have we continued to value the Lord’s Day and corporate worship? What do our schedules reflect that we are elevating above all else?

We know the answer to these questions. The number of kids walking away from the faith when they reach college informs us of this error, and to quote Ben Shapiro, “Facts don’t care about your feelings”. They are leaving in droves. 

Deuteronomy chapter 6 is a road map for us, highlighting this value that has been so neglected. 

Deuteronomy 6:1-8

“Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules[a]—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.

In this re-reading of the Law in the book of Deuteronomy, we are given the command to teach our children diligently. Talk about the law of the Lord sitting in our homes, walking and driving, wherever we are going, we should follow this. When we lie down, when we get up.  Write it and post it everywhere! In your house, on the fridge, in our lives as we live in front of our children.

Do we teach, talk, read, and live the word of God to our children more than we demand performance in school, sports, and other activities? If not, why? Unfortunately, so many of us have bought the lie that our job is to ensure our kids reach the “American Dream.” This reality in a very practical way informs our children that serving Jesus and living for Him is a side issue of life and not the main thing. We treat it that way, and it should be of no surprise that they do as well. 

What can we do? Repent and turn from this ridiculous idolatry! Second, while we are home with our kids, and their whole “lives” are cancelled let’s reboot. Hard re-start. Before the businesses come back, and the activities begin to increase, add to your schedule unmovable moments of family worship, family prayer, family Bible study.  Schedule family vacation, meals, and activities first. 

Dad, and Mom if you haven’t done this before it will feel weird. Embrace the awkward moment and laugh.  Confess to your kids and repent for not doing this sooner and explain why it is going to happen now. Keep it simple, don’t try to do too much, and set your expectations at a realistic level.  Not every family worship time is going to be the greatest most impacting moment of your lives.  Consistency and living this out will have an incredible long-term impact.  There are many great tools and please reach out and ask for help. Going forward let’s make teaching our kids the faith our primary goal and let the other “good things” take their proper place.