Most Christian parents have one main goal — ensure their kids grow into mature believers. But we also know the scary statistics. About 60 percent of those raised in Christian homes walk away from their faith (fmchr.ch/leavingfaith). Only 20 percent of Millennials believe church attendance is important (fmchr.ch/barnachurch). Discipling kids has never been so important or so challenging.
But what does that discipleship look like now? It looks a lot like it looked in the beginning.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. … They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. … They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people” (Acts 2:42-47).
The number one reason youth stay in the church is they have seen a Christian lifestyle modeled with integrity — first in their parents and then between their parents and other church members. Their parents genuinely love God and His people. They’ve grown up in a community — not a building.
“When Priscilla and Aquila heard him (Apollos teaching), they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately” (Acts 18:26).
Barnabas mentored Paul and John Mark. Paul mentored Silas and Timothy. Priscilla and Aquila mentored Apollos. It’s tough to find a place in the new church where relationships did not take priority and disciples were not made as a result. Young people remain in churches where someone took individual time to listen, model and mentor.
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. … I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (1 Timothy 4:12, 2 Timothy 1:6).
Paul felt young people should be active in the ministry of the church, not fans watching the game. When young people feel valued, they are much more likely to find value in church.
Jill Richardson is a Free Methodist pastor, wife and mother sharing God’s grace through speaking, writing (jillmarierichardson.com) and living.
DISCUSSION: In what areas might you not be “practicing what you preach” in front of kids?  In what ways can you participate in an Acts-like community of believers? What changes would you have to make in your priorities, schedule, finances or church programs to create that community?  If you have teens, who in your church could come alongside your child in this kind of relationship? How will you move forward on that?  What gifts do your children have from the Holy Spirit?  How can you help them fan these gifts into flames of ministry?  Where is there room for that in your church?