Youth ministry researcher Chap Clark says, “I’m convinced that the single most important area where we’ve lost ground with kids is in our commitment and ability to ground them in God’s Word.”

As a result, Barry Shafer says, “The church today, including both the adult and teenage generations, is in an era of rampant biblical illiteracy.” Duffy Robbins takes this one step further when he says: “Our young people have become incapable of theological thinking because they don’t have any theology to think about. … And, as Paul warns us, this … leaves us as ‘infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching’ (Ephesians 4:14).”

At the conclusion of the National Study of Youth and Religion, lead researcher Christian Smith reported: “Even though most teens are very positive about religion and say it’s a good thing, the vast majority are incredibly inarticulate about religion. … It doesn’t seem to us that many teens are being very well-educated in their faith traditions.”

To illustrate his point, Smith refers to teenagers in the study from conservative Protestant churches. “About half of their teens say that many religions may be true; more than one-third say it is okay to practice multiple religions; more than one-third believe people should not try to evangelize others; more than one-third say it is okay to pick and choose one’s religious beliefs and not accept the teachings of one’s faith as a whole, and nearly two-thirds say a person can be truly religious and spiritual without being involved in a church.”

Summarizing the entire study, Smith reports, “The net result … is that most religious teenagers’ opinions and views — one can hardly call them worldviews — are vague, limited, and often quite at variance with the actual teachings of their own religion.”

Duffy Robbins considers possible causes when he says: “The church in general, and youth ministry in particular, has demonstrated more of an appetite for goose bumps than for God’s truth, more interest in how our young people feel than how they think…. But where are Christian teenagers learning basic tenets of the Christian faith? And if they don’t understand those basic truths or doctrines … then how does that impact their long-term faith? I’m concerned that too much of our teaching is reduced to what can … be communicated by a worship band illuminated by stage lighting and well-placed candles.”

Here is some good news. Churches that tend to produce teenagers who can articulate their faith do exist. The Study of Exemplary Congregations in Youth Ministry identified characteristics shared by 21 churches that perennially are effective in youth ministry. Even across seven denominations, one shared characteristic that rose to the top was: “Bible study and biblical literacy are extensive and substantive.”

{Parents…it starts in the HOME, with you. Instead of making sure your kids are entertained (and I have seen some of the ‘entertainment’ that Christian parents seem to think is quite okay for their kids to be watching or doing…ugh. It’s humanism/new age-ism at best, and immodest kid smut at worst), have the latest  fashions (do your daughters REALLY need to be showing their ba-hinds to the world, moms? Do their shorts and skirts need to be a bit bigger than hankies…yeah, they kinda do…) , texting (there is this thing, it’s called TALKING. It helps with learning social skills and communicating in person), etc. What y’all need to be making sure they have is the word of God, living firmly in their minds. Sunday school doesn’t cut it. “Youth Ministry” doesn’t cut it. Do you know what they are soaking up every day in school? In the world? You need to. THAT is what is mainly shaping their worldview if you are not being deliberate and constant in teaching them what God says, and how to live godly lives. It’s not enough to give casual reminders, you have to be diligent daily. Daily. You can be sure the world is… 😦

It is the Christian parents responsibility to make sure they have trained their children in the way they should go, so that when they are old they will not depart from it. Face it…however you train them, the consequence is the same….they will not depart from it. So shallow, Sunday Christian parents produce, what? Fathers who do not lead their families in daily devotions and bible study produce what? Mothers who are more concerned with the world than with the souls of their kids produce what? What they do, they learn mainly from you. It is a solemn and awesome responsibility, but it came with both claiming Christ and having kids. For those who do make sure their kids are well grounded in the word…Bravo! But for those who do not…do not be surprised at what they do in their lives when they leave home. I don’t envy you, it’s a tough 24/7/365 responsibility! Please don’t let them down. The days are evil, and the word of God is a crucial part of their spiritual armor, that you can provide for them, and teach them to love and seek for themselves. I pray that many will do that, because it is not too late if they are still in your home, and now is better than not at all. I’m just sayin…~AGM}