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Why Do Christian Kids Leave The Faith?

Why do Christian kids leave the faith?

Sean McDowell

June 28, 2005


            What is your greatest fear? When I was a kid my greatest fear was sharks.  I always feared that under the murky water of my surfboard a great white would lurch out and have me for lunch.  As I get older, my fears have radically changed, especially since I have learned that about one person per year in the United States is actually killed by a shark, whereas 168 die from a car crash after hitting a deer. 

My greatest fear today, which I know you can relate to, is that my own son, as well as the kids I work with, will leave the faith I so cherish. And in many ways this fear is coming true.  Denominational leaders indicate that between 69% and 94% of their churched young people are leaving the traditional church after high school…and not returning.

            James Dobson recently said that the great fear among parents today is the possibility that their kids could leave the faith.  Parents fear that the relativistic, sex-saturated culture will steal the hearts and minds of their youth.  Just the thought of that sends chills down my spine-chills far deeper than the damage a shark could ever inflict.  Jesus recognized the validity of this fear:   "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew ).  We rightly fear that our kids' souls are being devoured by the world around them.

            So, what can we do to protect our kids from the cultural onslaught intent on destroying our kids' souls?  Based on my research and personal interactions with thousands of kids, I am convinced that the greatest step we can take to protect our kids is to help them develop a biblical worldview.  What kids believe will make a world of difference in the kind of lives they lead.  You see, when kids' views of the world become distorted, then how they relate to God, others, and ourselves is radically affected.  And, sooner or later, what they believe will govern how they think and act.  Consider the following facts about kids without a biblical worldview:

  • 225% more likely to be angry with life

  • 210% more likely to lack purpose in life

  • 48% more likely to cheat on an exam

  • 300% more likely to use illegal drugs

According to the 2005 study on youth entitled, "National Study of Youth and

Religion," thousands of non-religious teenagers were interviewed who said they were raised to be religious but had become "non-religious." The teenagers were asked, "Why did you fall away from the faith in which you were raised?"  They were given no set answers to pick from; it was simply an open-ended question.  The most common answer (32%) was intellectual skepticism.  Their answers included, "Some stuff was too far-fetched for me to believe in," "I think scientifically there is no proof," and "There were too many questions that can't be answered." 

Unquestionably, knowing why Christianity is true is still a vital ingredient in the spiritual development of youth today.  We must equip our youth to think critically about the most pressing issues of the day.  Worldview training is the best tool we have to prevent our greatest fears from becoming reality.