Posted by: reformbama | August 17, 2010

“LifeWay Does It Again” By Voddie Baucham (repost)

(This is a long one but well worth it, would love to hear comments on this one – Reformed)

While there are those who continue to argue that the current multigenerational “crisis” is overblown, study after study continues to confirm the nature, magnitude and extent of the problem.  The recent LifeWay Research findings are no exception.  Their recent findings are in line with the results of other researchers (like the Barna Group, the Nehemiah Institute, and the National Study of Youth and Religion).  For example, the LifeWay study discovered:

[T]he most common definitions of successful parenting include children having good values (25 percent), being happy adults (25 percent), finding success in life (22 percent), being a good person (19 percent), graduating from college (17 percent), and living independently (15 percent). Being godly or having faith in God is mentioned by 9 percent of respondents.

Unfortunately, Christian parents did not exactly stand out in the crowd when it came to pursuing a vision of multigenerational faithfulness to the Lord.  In fact, “Parents who attend religious services weekly are particularly likely to emphasize faith in God, but only 24 percent of them identify that as a mark of parenting success, the research found.”  What is even more disturbing is the fact that, “among born-again Christians, 29 percent say faith is not among the most important influences on their parenting.”  Ed Stetzer hit the nail on the head when he commented: “When self-identifying Christians are not able to say that faith is a priority for parenting, we should not be surprised at the prevalence of church drop outs in the younger generation.”

LifeWay has not been a supporter of Family Driven Faith, or Family Integrated ministry.  Nevertheless, I am grateful for their work.  I am especially grateful for the fact that while they derive a great deal of their revenue from “Youth/Student Ministry” resources (and therefore are not very likely to point the finger squarely in that direction), they are honest enough in their research that those of us who are willing to confront the Youth/Student Ministry movement (and government education) may do so with confidence, knowing that the research (and more importantly, Scripture) affirms our position again and again.

The unfortunate reality is that most Christian parents ship their children off to be discipled by the government school system (for 14,000 instructional hours), and are neither equipped, nor expected to disciple their children in the average church.  The government educational system and the neo-traditional church have created an environment that gives parents a ready-made excuse for their ignorance and ineffectiveness.  No wonder LifeWay’s research found that, “Only 14 percent of all parents say they feel they are very familiar with what the Bible has to say about parenting, even though 77 percent identify themselves as Christians.”  Moreover, “Among those who attend religious services weekly, that number rises to 36 percent.”

What a travesty!  The only thing worse than this level of biblical illiteracy and parental laxity is the fact that people just don’t care.  In fact:

A full 82 percent agree they feel fearful when they think about what kind of world their children will face as adults. Asked if they feel a lot of regret about what they’ve done as parents, 28 percent of parents agree, although only 5 percent feel strongly about it.

Do we actually believe that more and better Youth Ministry is the answer here (not necessarily LifeWay’s conclusion)?   Are we really going to continue to argue that we could solve this if simply we increased our “Salt and Light” quotient in the government schools (perhaps going from the current 85 percent rate of participation among Christian families to 90 or 95 percent would help)?  When will we wake up and ask the tough, yet necessary questions?  What is the historical link between the rise of Youth Ministry and the fall of family discipleship? (see:  Alvin Reid, Raising the Bar, Kregel, 2004)  What is the link between government education and biblical worldview development? (See:  the Nehemiah Institute P.E.E.R.S. Test)  What happens to these numbers when people are in a Family Integrated Church context (or home education, classical Christian education, etc.)?

The current system is broken.  What’s worse, it has no basis in Scripture.  We simply cannot continue to march headlong into the abyss.  At some point we are going to have to acknowledge our sin, and repent.  We are going to have to recognize that parents are commanded to disciple their children (Deut. 6:6,7; Ps. 78; Eph. 6:4, etc), and that handing our children’s minds over to Caesar has dire consequences (Ps. 1:1-2; Prov 1:7; Mt. 5:17-20; 18:7; Luke 6:40; Rom 12:2; Col 2:8; 2 Cor 10:5; 1 Tim 6:20-21).  We are also going to have to recognize that the structure, staff, and philosophy of our churches are chief contributors to the problem.  We must get back to the business of doing ministry by the book and calling and equipping parents (fathers in particular) to do the important work of family discipleship.  I think Whitefield said it best:

[P]ersons are generally very liberal of their invectives against the clergy, and think they justly blame the conduct of that minister who does not take heed to and watch over the flock, of which the Holy Ghost has made him overseer: but may not every governor of a family, be in a lower degree liable to the same censure, who takes no thought for those souls that are committed too his charge? For every house is as it were a little parish, every governor… a priest, every family a flock; and if any of them perish through the governor’s neglect, their blood will God require at their hands. (George Whitefield, “The Great Duty of Family Religion”)




  1. Many (most) church administrations take that the duty of a youth ministry is first to keep the kids coming. Primarily that’s it. So they keep them coming with whatever entertainment necessary, the parents are happy because they have good church going kids UNTIL the kids get out on their own and leave the church and it becomes apparent that they have no faith in Christ as the parents had thought. The parents then realize, all too late, that their kids have been part of an attendance program, appeased enough to keep attending. They have been entertained, possibly straight to Hell. The church is at fault for taking the parent’s scriptural duty upon themselves and acting as if they can do the job better. Parents are being betrayed. Their children are being taught a form of godliness that denies the power found in Christ. It is utterly appalling that it continues year after year for sake of the program!

  2. This will be one set of of stats ignored by those that love to build their churches around stats.

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