I'LL FIGHT FOR YOUR YOUNG PEOPLE, WILL YOU? A Pastor's Plea to Christian Parents

This little write-up comes from the heart as a passionate plea to parents in the shared concern for our children.

It’s been hard to pastor in a conservative church today, but not for the reasons that you might think. It’s not that we are constantly being attacked from the outside for our music, confessions, and worship style. I’m sure it happens, but most people who come to us find what we are doing as unique and refreshing, especially if they are from a broadly evangelical background. It’s been one of the pleasant surprises of the ministry.

My biggest challenge over the many years of my ministry has come from those on the inside, particularly parents between the ages of 45-60. There is one issue that has produced the struggle: their young people are leaving the church.

Many parents have watched for years the same old story happen over and over. As soon as a young person returns from college, little to no interest is shown in attending church. There seems to be no interest in the church of their upbringing. I share the concern and burden these parent's face.

It is in this struggle that parents often become bitter in their home church, blaming the church for the departure, wanting to see the church change to retain their youth. This creates an oppressive environment of disgruntlement and embarrassment of the particular identity of their local church--stick in the muds, stuffy, etc. And how does our church compete when the church next door offers a much easier consumer-driven Christianity? A painful dilemma indeed.

But parents often give little thought to how they have contributed to the problem. 

With this in mind, I have some kind suggestions that may help churches fight this battle for their young people.

While I don’t represent every pastor here or speak for them, these are ways I commit to fight for the youth of our church. Hopefully other pastors can adopt the same. In all these things I say: God helping me.
  • I will love your young people enough to preach the whole counsel of God to them.  I am committed to God’s Word and I will tell them the whole truth.

  • I will call your young people to repentance and faith. This won’t be easy.  Some who have yet to profess their faith will not like to be told they are wrong. The law will hurt. Some may get angry at the stances I’m called to take. It may at times seem like we’re losing the battle. But I’m committed to this fight for your young people.

  •  I will make known the riches of Jesus Christ and his gospel to them. They will never be left without a way of escape. I want them to enjoy Christ and his forgiveness and live in his peace.

  • I will stand for truth and expose error. I will not pander to sinful desires for false worship. I am zealous to keep golden calves out of the church. I know we live in day when people hate saying anybody or anything is wrong, but I promise to tell them what is wrong and who is wrong (as the inspired NT authors did) to protect them from the path of hell.

  • I will pray for your young people. It’s a battle that must be fought with prayer. My door is always open for you to come to my study and pray with me for them

Now here are five ways parent’s can join in the spiritual fight for their young people to help stop the trend:
  • Bring them to church and show a delight for the gospel. If you truly believe that the preaching of the gospel is the power of God to save those who believe, then do all in your power to have your children in worship at a very young age. Don’t let them leave to children’s church. Train their minds to listen a sermon. It is God’s way of grace to them. They must learn and see from you where the true power of God is found, in the Word.  Hold it high, and they will too.

  • Speak well of your pastor and leaders. More damage is done when you speak evil of the church, the pastor, or the leaders before your children. If you want them to have a positive view of the church, you must show them one. Realize that before disgruntlement often comes a refusal to accept God’s Word. A disgruntled and complaining spirit is a certain recipe to drive them out. 

  • Be willing to tell your children the truth and call them to repentance through loving discipline. Far too many parents are scared of their young people and let them do whatever they want to do. You are responsible to discipline them and speak the truth to them in love. There is right and wrong, teach and expose them both. If you stand for nothing, so will they. Why then would you expect them to stay in church?

  • Be an example to them in life of what it means to be godly. J.C. Ryle commenting on Lot’s worldliness says, “Lingering parents seldom have godly children. The eye of the child drinks in far more than the ear. A child will always observe what you do much more than what you say.” Be an example to them in doctrine and in life.

  • Train them and pray for them. This means gathering at the table to catechize and pray for them before their ears. It also means means praying that God would make them born again by his Spirit. How many people are bringing your child’s name in prayer to the throne of grace. What a tragedy if God never hears from you about the salvation of your children!
So dear parents, I made a commitment to fight for your young people, will you?