Parents mentoring their kids in matters of faith and life isn’t what seems to be happening as much these days. Gone are the days of boys learning to mow the lawn alongside their fathers. Now, they pay to have someone else do it. Most girls aren’t learning how to cook with their mothers. Dinner is now too often provided by KFC. With all of our modern conveniences, we have forgotten to teach our children how to live and how to be adults.
The same things can be said for matters of faith. As consumers, we have fallen prey to the idea that spiritual education is what happens at church. Spiritual education does happen at church, of course. But if that is the primary place that we plan for spiritual education, we are destined to fail at this task. This kind of outsourcing will not work. When spiritual matters are reserved for church, the lesson is that one may do whatever one wants and live however he chooses, as long as he puts on a smile on Sunday.
Parents are the primary teachers about faith, not necessarily how to exegete a Pauline epistle, but about how our faith affects our daily lives.
I don’t want to sound like I’m griping, and I don’t level any accusations on everyone. But I think one of the largest complaints I have about the state of the family is that it seems to me that many parents have forgotten that one of the primary roles of parenting is to end up with your offspring as functioning adults. The goal should be to produce adults that are even better than you were. This is true in regard to career and intelligence, and it is also true about faith.
Case in point: In the last 10 years of ministry, I know of no teen (male or female) who has access to the Internet in their own room and does not have an addiction to pornography, or inappropriate sexual relationships online. I know this, because the students come to me and tell me. I have gone to their homes and moved their computers for them (upon their request). I have prayed with them for freedom from these addictions.
Despite this, when parents tell me that their child wants a computer in their room (this happens often), I tell them my experience, yet 100% of the time the student ends up with a computer in their room within a month. When I occasionally ask the parent why this happened, they shrug their shoulders as if to say, “Oh well.”
No, not “Oh well.” Children don’t need a buddy. Teens don’t need a hip mom or dad. They need a parent. The teens that tell me how cool their lenient parents are, are the same teens that come to me crying to say that they feel constant chaos. Kids need parents. The message that parents send to teens when they don’t take leadership on these issues is that there is no moral standard.
I have no doubt in my mind that parents who are not teaching their kids important skills for their future adulthood are not teaching these kids the stories, principles, and reasons for their faith. I cannot believe that the Church will fail and disappear. But I do believe unless this is changed quickly, the state of the Church in the West will read like a passage in Second Kings. This is an emergency.