Recently, I have encountered many Godly parents who are heartbroken that their children have shunned Christianity. Although these prodigal kids were raised in Christian homes and attended church regularly, their upbringing was not perfect — no home is. Yet they had many spiritual advantages: their parents set a positive example, they were taught the Bible at home and church, they learned how to pray and honor God, and some had a Christian education.

     However, once they left home as young adults, they quit attending church, indulged in worldly activities, and embraced the secular worldview. They began to doubt the truth of the Bible and question their parent’s concept of God. “How can I believe in a God who would condemn anyone to hell for doing what comes naturally?” “How could I believe in a God who insists there is only one way to salvation?”

     Christian parents and grandparents are crushed when they watch the children they love reject their faith and embrace a secular worldview. After hearing me preach in North Carolina recently, a couple tearfully approached me, saying, “We’re so concerned the Lord will return for His church, and our own grandchildren are not going to be included in the coming kingdom! What can we do to help restore them to a relationship with Jesus? Would you pray for them?”

     Why are so many youths rejecting the faith of their childhood? They are certainly not the first to do so. The Old Testament is full of examples of Godly parents whose children went spiritually AWOLand disappointed them. Isaac, Jacob, Manoah, Eli, Samuel, David, and Solomon all experienced the heartache of children who rebelled spiritually. One of Jesus’ best-known parables is the story of the prodigal son who defiantly left home and squandered his father’s wealth.

     Unfortunately, spiritual defection seems to be on the increase. Jesus alerted us this would be the case in the last days. He warned, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). I think we are seeing the fulfillment of that prophecy.

     The first step in solving a problem is identifying the problem. Unfortunately, I believe a significant factor in recent decades has been churches’ emphasis on attracting the “seeker” while neglecting the discipleship and training of those within the church – especially our children. The Bible directs us to impress our children with God’s commands (Deuteronomy 6:7) and raise them “in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Many Christian leaders should honestly evaluate their efforts and recognize it is making their congregations Biblically illiterate.

     Over the next two weeks, my blog posts will further discuss the cause of church defections and suggest some corrections that churches and families should make. I will also offer suggestions for reclaiming those who have fallen away. In the meantime, pray for wisdom for concerned parents and pray their children will remain faithful.  May their circle will be unbroken.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4).


Bob Russell is retired Senior Minister of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY.