I became a Christian when my first two children were very young. They have no memory of me prior to my conversion. But all four of my kids were raised in Christian community. I didn’t train, mentor or prepare them on my own, and you shouldn’t either. Young Christians are facing a formidable task as they get ready to enter an adult culture growingly hostile to the Christian worldview. While Christian leaders may disagree about the severity of the problem, the evidence of attrition amongst 17-30 year olds is well documented. If our kids aren’t trained and exposed to the challenges at an early age, they are far more likely to leave the Church. And while it is tempting to think we, as parents, are all our kids will ever need, this is simply untrue. Parents, don’t train your kids on your own.
Instead, seek the help available to you within the Christian community. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying parents should reassign their responsibilities to others; I believe parents have the primary duty to become good Case Makers so they can train their own children. But, there are a number of ways parents can supplement this training:
I’ll admit I’ve often been frustrated with what I’ve seen in youth ministry (hey, I was as inadequate as anyone else for the first year as a youth pastor), but if you take the time to select and support the ministry (and pastor) who will eventually mentor your child, you’ll be much happier with the result. If you’re in a situation where you don’t feel the ministry is providing everything you think is required, don’t complain about it. Instead, volunteer to lead a small group, teach a break-out session or lead a missions trip. Become a part of your church’s youth ministry.
Small Groups and Sunday School
Most mentoring is done in the context of small groups within the church. Are your kids integrated into one of these groups, and if so, does the group engage the case making topics necessary to prepare them as Christ followers? If you’re already part of a small group, consider expanding the scope of the group to include young people and the topics they need to learn. If there isn’t a group like this available in your church, start one.
There are a number of worthy training programs around the country. Just Google “Christian worldview training” and you find one near you. Programs like Summit Worldview Conference and Impact 360 are critically important to the development of young Christians. These intensive, short-term, live-in programs can help your kids prepare themselves as critical thinkers and Christ followers.
There are more Christian case making materials available today on the Internet than at any other time in history. These materials and web ministries simply cannot replace real human community, but they are an excellent source of information and training for those of us who are trying to build community around Christian Case Making. Find the resources and start training so you can become a better Christian Case Maker for your kids.
If you are a parent, you are not alone. Training young Christians is difficult work and it requires a team. Even though I have become part of the larger Christian Case Making community, I don’t always feel personally adequate to the task as a parent. While I’ve been focused in preparing young Christians, I don’t always feel like I’ve done the best job preparing my own young Christians. Other Christian Case Makers I know feel the same way. This week, I sent my daughter to Summit Worldview Conference so she can experience the kind of community I’ve described. While she was there, MaryJo Sharp (one of many speakers training the students) took a photo of four of our kids (lovingly Identified as “AK’s”, or “Apologists Kids”) who happened to be at Summit this week. You might wonder why Christian Case Makers would send their own kids to listen to other Christian Case Makers. Haven’t they heard enough from us as their parents? Parents have access to their kids, but we don’t always have their attention. Tomorrow I’ll give you several reasons why strangers can impact our kids in a way we, as their parents, cannot.
For more information about strategies to help you teach Christian worldview to the next generation, please read So the Next Generation Will Know: Training Young Christians in a Challenging World. This book teaches parents, youth pastors and Christian educators practical, accessible strategies and principles they can employ to teach the youngest Christians the truth of Christianity. The book is accompanied by an eight-session So the Next Generation Will Know DVD Set (and Participant’s Guide) to help individuals or small groups examine the evidence and make the case.
J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, author of Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.
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