Too many parents feel that taking their children to church on Sundays and praying before meals is all that’s required. This just doesn’t suffice, nor should we expect it to.
You may be familiar with the term “entropy” and all that it entails. For those of you who aren’t, simply put, it refers to the tendency of systems to break down over time when left to themselves. Cars rust, computers slow down, apples rot, etc. We see it all around us and accept it as a fact of life. It is not my intention, however, to talk about the scientific and technical aspects of this concept in this particular article. What I will focus on is the effect of this phenomenon regarding the Christian worldview in a way that you will find to be very relevant personally.
Losing the Youth
I produced a short video last year that was given out at a national pastor’s conference where over 1,000 senior pastors were in attendance. I began the video by asking them an intriguing question… “What percentage of the youth in your church would you be comfortable in losing?” Most pastors would probably say that they wouldn’t want to lose even one. Realistically, there will always be some that leave the faith… we just hope that number is very small. The reality of the situation, however, is very disturbing.
We are experiencing a crisis today that is extremely alarming. Various surveys reveal that two-thirds of Christian students (some show three quarters or more) will end up walking away from their faith before leaving college! These are not youth from “mildly religious homes,” but on the contrary, they are from strong, evangelical, fundamental families.
I share these statistics in some of the talks I give at churches, conferences, schools and other organizations and inevitably I have parents approach me afterwards, many times with tears in their eyes, saying, “That was my son (or daughter). He grew up in the church, was involved with the youth group and even led a few Bible studies in our home! He went off to college and after one semester, came home brashly announcing that he was now an atheist! Can you please help us?”
What Went Wrong?
While my heart always goes out to these parents, I can’t say that I am surprised by their stories. One mother even offered to fly me across the country and put me up in a hotel if I would just be willing to talk to her son. I told her that I obviously did not know her son (having never met him), but I felt very strongly that his issue wasn’t really science or academics (which he was using as an intimidating defense of his new-found atheism and to which she had no answers).
I conveyed that he most likely has gone through some very traumatic experiences which made him bitter towards God and he didn’t see much of a difference in the life of Christians around him (or find any real comfort from them). He subsequently goes off to college and sits at the feet of professors who are more than willing to tell him why all that he was taught is not true anyway. Furthermore, he is now in college and is there to learn about the “real world,” so he needs to leave all those silly Bible stories behind. After sharing these thoughts with her, she looked at me in astonishment and asked, “How did you know?”
It wasn’t that I knew for sure, it’s just that this is most often the case, as opposed to the child being perfectly fine and then walking away because some professor challenged him with something he had not heard before.
Many in my audiences would like (or expect) to hear me say that the problem is the universities or the public school system. Some might even think it’s the pastor’s fault. While it’s true that each of these can contribute to the problem, in reality, the fault more often lies with the parents who did not truly mentor their own children.
I know all too well how challenging college can be and how hostile it often is to the Christian faith. It’s part of my own personal story (which I don’t have time to share here). However, if parents were truly mentoring their own children as Scripture instructs (Deuteronomy 6:4–9), the majority of them would know what to expect from the secular world and be prepared with a lucid, well-thought-out response.
Teach Your Children Well
What does all of this have to do with “entropy”? Just as physical systems in the natural world will tend to degrade over time when left alone, so too will our Christian influence in society if we don’t proactively train the next generation.
Too many parents, being caught up in the busyness of life, consciously or subconsciously feel that taking their children to church on Sundays and praying before meals is all that’s required. This just doesn’t suffice, nor should we expect it to. We are living in an age where there is more material available to defend the Christian faith than ever, and it is a lot more accessible as well.
Our ministry is ultimately centered on the authority of Scripture. It’s true that we focus a fair amount on the creation/evolution controversy… because the Bible arguably gets attacked more for its Genesis account of origins than any other area. Since Genesis is absolutely foundational to the rest of Scripture (every major doctrine we believe is founded in Genesis!), it follows that if we have problems with Genesis, we have problems with pretty much everything we hold dear as Christians.
There is an amazing amount of cutting-edge scientific information that continues to confirm the Biblical record of creation. In one of my latest talks, I share some incredible details about DNA that have been recently discovered, showing that evolution is virtually impossible and it’s at a level that even a kindergartner can understand. I facetiously (but respectfully) say that you have to be highly educated to not understand it!
It all has to do with how the information appears on the DNA. Scientists used to naively think that it was pretty much just like a textbook or instruction manual that you read like any other text. Words strung together to make sentences, which were then simply concatenated to create paragraphs, eventually producing “chapters” which we call “genes.”
We now know that it is much, much, much (did I mention “much” yet?) more complex than this. We find messages (in the same segment) going forwards and backwards! (A different message each way!) We find overlapping messages, spliced messages, encrypted messages, 3-D messages and so on!
This information structure is humanly impossible to create. A Cray supercomputer could not produce this in 100 billion years! Yet we are supposed to believe that it all just happened by non-directed actions of molecules over a few billion years! Not only that, but taking an existing, complex set of instructions (i.e., the DNA of a particular organism) and making random accidental changes to its code is supposed to have continually improved it over time, so that eventually you have human beings so smart they could tell it was all an accident!
“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22). Just so you understand properly, God (through the apostle Paul) is not “name calling” in this passage. He is simply describing the thinking process of those who have chosen to reject the knowledge of His existence that He himself placed in every human being (Romans 1:19–20). Let’s take advantage of the minds God has given us and “train up a child” and “always be ready with an answer” for His glory!
[Ed note: Jay Seegert is a featured speaker at this year’s Strategic Perspectives conference. See koinoniainstitute.org/conference for details. We hope you can join us!]