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Thursday, June 18, 2009

What Does a Christian Parent Do When a Child Leaves the Faith?

I cannot tell you how many times I have sat with parents whose child has left his Christian walk. Sometimes they become non-religious and sometimes they adopt another religion. In either case the parents are devastated.

The parents wonder what they did to make their child leave. They long deeply to see their child back in church. They know that the severance of their faith is a serious separation. They will no longer have spiritual conversations as long as the child is away from his faith. They do not have the same relationship with their child as they once did.

The parents realize that many bad decisions are being made while the child is away from the faith. They don't want their children hurt. They want their children to have the joy of the Lord.

I have this advice. It comes through years of speaking with parents and even seeing victory when the children finally come home.

Parents, make sure that your children do not think that your love for them is contingent upon their attendance in church. This will only make the child resent church. Truthfully, the problem isn't church attendance anyway. It is concerning their relationship with Jesus. This is a much deeper relationship than merely attending church.

Pray for your children. This is not something you should start when they leave the faith. It should be something that every parent knows must be done each day of the child's life. God can bring your child closer to Him better than you can. Get on your knees and ask Him to.

Keep the porch light on. Years ago parents would leave the porch light on when their children went on dates. It would provide the light necessary to get back into the house. The last person in would turn off the light. Make sure that your child knows that he or she can come home any time. The porch light may not literally be on but the child will know he or she can come home.

Forgive your child for the pain he or she has caused you. Resentment will drive your child further away. You should realize that forgiveness is the only answer for you. You forgive before the child comes home. It will make it easier for them to believe in your love.

Show your faith clearly. This is not about church attendance. It is the way you act toward others. It is how you say good things and don't gossip about others. It is how you have true joy in your own heart because of the Lord's workings in your own life. The best way to show your faith is to be fully committed to the Lord.

Stand your ground with love. This will mean that you love your child but will not participate in ungodly activities. You don't let your son spend the night with a girl he brings home. You don't permit smoking marijuana in your home. Your child will know your faith doesn't mean much if you are willing to violate it in your own home.

Lastly, never lose hope. God is still a great God. He can do things no one else can do. He can move mountains. Your mountain may be a child who has strayed. He is greater than this problem. Trust Him to work when nothing else is working.

I hope this helps someone who has a child who is away from the Christian faith. Remember that God loves your child even more than you. Hold on to that thought and take one day at the time. God delivers when nothing else can.


Cynthia said...

This is a very good article. My daughter suddenly left her Christian faith at the age of 17 after deciding that having a non Christian boyfriend was more important. So she threw away her faith and says now that is part of her childhood that she has grown away from. This is was my child who was so excited at one time for Jesus, loved going to Christian camp, youth conferences and was once president of the Bible club at school.

She claims that ALL Christians are judgmental and they judge her at church.

I keep praying for her on a daily basis, hoping that God will open her eyes and that she will repent of her behavior. She has ideas that are so wrong about so many things, no doubt very influenced by her atheistic friends. I love her, the light is always on for her. But we cannot share Christian fellowship anymore because she has withdrawn from it. This makes me very sad.

Prentis said...

I prayed for your daughter after reading your comment. God loves her so much that He sent His Son. He still loves her and knocks at her door. I pray that she hears His voice and invites Him for fellowship.
I really doubt if your church is judging her. Sometimes we think people are thinking little of us when they aren't thinking of us at all. We really don't need others to judge us. We do such a good job on ourselves.

Cynthia Hampton said...

Thank you so much. I found your blog quite by accident, looking for comfort regarding my daughter. Your article touched me. I know my church isn't judging her, she's feeling very guilty about her choices, so she doesn't want to be around the church because she has judged herself, but she blames it on the church.

I am very much enjoying reading your various blog entries. I'm all the way on the other side of country from you...In California. God bless you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. It is heartbreaking to realize that no, they are not walking with the Lord. The first tendency is to place blame. But your suggestions are much better.

Cynthia Hampton said...

I just wanted to leave another comment with an update. Last Sunday my daughter voluntarily went to church with me. She actually volunteered to go. Since her father died last August, she has been changing and has softened her heart.

Tammy said...

My heart is broken because my daughter also has left the Christian faith. She also was very involved in church, mission work, and had planned to be a missionary. She has always been very intelligent, very analytical. She is almost 22 and will be finishing her Master's in June, and plans on working on her Doctorate. It's almost like she is "too smart" for God, and doesn't want to depend on anyone. I love her very much, and continue to pray for her and reach out to her.

Cynthia Hampton said...

Tammy, I understand your pain. I've been doing a lot of research on why so many of our Christian youth leave the church after graduating high school. Even if it seemed that they had a strong faith, perhaps their faith was not backed up with strong evidence in their own minds. Many of our church youth groups are entertaining our kids into apostasy. They are having fun, but are not getting a firm grasp on the reality of Christian faith and how to defend that faith when they meet opposers. It's amazing how when they meet non-Christians in college and universities, they are presented with what I call "Da Vinci Code theology." Then they watch something called the Zeitgeist movie that claims that Jesus was never real and is based completely off of pagan gods. The movie presents a lot of factual errors and makes unsupported claims. For example, if you actually read the mythology of these gods, you won't find any similarity to Jesus at all. And none of the "gods" had 12 disciples and did miracle healing. Yet this film makes claims that all these gods did the same as Jesus and therefore, Jesus is a myth. I want to recommend a book for you called Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace. He outlines much of these things and he himself was once an atheist till he was 35. He's a retired police detective and used his skills as a detective to investigate the claims of Christianity to see if it was true. All the evidence that he investigated showed that Christianity is true.

Tammy I don't know if your daughter no longer believes that Christianity is true. But I encourage you to read this book and another called I Don't have enough faith to be an atheist, by Frank Turek and Norman Geisler.