Thursday, February 07, 2008

Church Dropouts

Last Saturday, the Tulsa World ran an interesting story about why many people "drop out" of churches after leaving high school ( Some of the reasons were understandable. After all, some churches are "boring" for some reason. Some do not see the Christian life as an adventure with both fun and danger. Some churches put on "an act." They concentrate on a show without substance.

However, some of the reasons cannot be changed. A church must teach that homosexuality is a sin, even though it may appear "homophobic" to young people. We must teach the truth with compassion.

In No More Jellyfish, Chickens, or Wimps: Raising Secure, Assertive Kids in a Tough World, Paul Coughlin mentions a reason for young people dropping out of churches that I have never read before. He writes,

"(It) is spiritually neglectful not to explain to our children that if they align their lives with God's will, they will be met with challenges. If we don't, we can be sure we'll be raising a generation of what I call Second-Seed people---those who walk away from their faith when the going gets tough.

When we read Jesus' parable of the sower (Matthew 13; Mark 4; Luke 8), which describes why faith grows in some but not in others, we hope we'll only find our inner lives described in one key passage. When we find our faithlessness laid bare on the page, we sometimes fail to understand the real reason: We simply don't have the backbone to withstand the difficulties that come from being the oddballs God wants us to be.

Second-Seed people respond superficially to God's Word.

These are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. (Mark 4:16-17 NRSV).

They lack the rugged virtue of fortitude. Why? Because their training makes them so eager to please others that they crumple under even mild criticism. They were trained to be nice kids instead of good ones" (pp. 112-113).

I want to raise a good son, not necessarily a nice one. Although his teachers may not like it and it may cause me some problems in the future, I have told Christopher to intervene when another student is doing something wrong or hurting another. I warned him that he may get into trouble at school for doing so, but that he would have my support at home. I would be proud of him for standing up to those who would harm others. He would be a hero. I want to train him to do good despite opposition, misunderstanding, and trouble. If he is to become a godly man, he will need such training to make it in a world in which evil and wrong are rarely challenged. I am convinced that, if he grasps such lessons, he will not become another "church dropout."

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