September 2, 2009
During the past thirty years of traveling the world and speaking in churches, I have been deeply burdened by distraught parents pleading for advice on how to reach their children who were brought up in the church but no longer attend. “How can I reach them? How can we get them back to church?” I have been asked time and time again. As I saw such patterns across America, Australia, Europe, and the United Kingdom, I was sure there must be a connection. Could it be that the lack of teaching apologetics in our churches, youth groups, Sunday schools, and Bible studies is a major reason why young people leave the church? I talked with parents and noticed that an overwhelming number of them admitted they didn’t know how to answer their children’s questions—whether about dinosaurs, the age of the earth, or the origin of the Bible. I also found that most parents believe their children’s Christianity won’t come under attack until college. So we contracted with Britt Beemer, from America’s Research Group, to formulate questions and survey one thousand twenty-somethings (ages 20–29) who had gone to church regularly as children but no longer attend. They had to have come from a conservative church background so the results would reflect what’s happening to children from Bible-believing churches. The study found we are losing our kids in elementary, middle school, and high school rather than college. And overall, it’s because of the lack of teaching apologetics. The younger generations are not being raised to be able to answer the skeptical questions of our time, and so they begin doubting from a very early age whether they can trust the Bible.
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