Saturday, July 25, 2009

Faith Deficit Disorder – Our Teens at Risk

This afternoon I got my Christian Counseling Today magazine in the mail and was immediately drawn to an article by Josh McDowell called “The Crisis of Belief - What Teens Believe.” As the mother of two teenage boys myself, teen-faith issues are near and dear to my heart. I count myself blessed that both my boys are (little) men of God, actively serving in ministries at Fair Oaks Church but I’m not so naïve to think that can’t change and it shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Kids really have so much more of the world to resist than we did at their age. Yeah, yeah… sex, drugs, violence, pornography all existed when we were their age – this is nothing new – but the ease of access and prevalence is just frightening.

“While we need to be aware of what our children could be tempted to do, we need to be more concerned with what they are tempted to believe.”

So true! As a Christian parent you think you’re doing a good job and covering all the bases until a 4th-grade teacher unravels what you thought was a firm understanding and belief in Creation with her day’s science lesson. Some day I’ll write a blog called “Deconstructing Darwin” about my journey of equipping the boys with the Truth. It paid off a few years later when my oldest stood up in his 7th grade science class and told the teacher that Darwin was wrong and proceeded to give her and the class a lesson on the science of Creationism. No threat of expulsion could kill that proud-parent buzz!

The reality, though, is that Darwin (and other evil influences) are around every corner, waiting to whisper their lies into our kids’ ears. Worse yet, what about the ones who don’t know the Truth, have never heard the Word, walking alone in the world with nothing to compete with the Devil’s whisper? Check out some of these statistics from the article:

Studies reveal that young people who lack a basic biblical belief system are:
• 36% more likely to lie to a friend;
• 48% more likely to cheat on a exam;
• 200% more likely to steal;
• 200% more likely to physically hurt someone;
• 300% more likely to use illegal drugs;
• 600% more likely to attempt suicide.

The article goes on to talk about the three ways our teens’ beliefs become distorted: adopting distorted beliefs about God, embracing distorted beliefs about Truth, and accepting distorted Beliefs about reality.

Not surprising to any parent of a teenager, today’s teens have a tendency to just make up their own belief systems and promote them to others as reality… and those “others” accept it as fact without question.

The Barna “Third Millennium Teens” research found that 82% of teens surveyed identified themselves as Christians, 70% reported being in some kind of church youth group, 80% believed God created the universe, and 84% believed God was personally involved in people’s lives.

That’s good, right? Worthy of a praise God! But somewhere there’s a disconnect with the application of those beliefs. Of the same survey group:
• 63% believed that Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and Jews are all praying to the same god;
• 46% believed Jesus committed sins while he was on the earth;
• 51% did not believe Jesus rose from the dead after the crucifixion;
• 48% didn’t believe it mattered what religious faith you practiced because they are all essentially the same;
• 58% believe that all religious faiths teach equally valid truths.

WOW! Reading that made me immediately appreciate the strong faith my boys have and (not to minimize the hard work Mom & Dad have done to get them there) how blessed we are that our church prioritizes youth ministries and recognizes that these kids are our future ministry leaders.

But let’s not lose sight of those teens out side our immediate reach – scripting their own belief systems - who need to be reached so they can hear the Truth and know the difference when they hear the devil’s whisper. Let us all start with a prayer (it’s the least we can do) but we need to be deliberate and active in recognizing opportunities to whisper louder (or shout) into the heart and faith of a teen with distorted beliefs.

By the way, Josh McDowell has some great resources for teens on his website … you can also follow him on Twitter:
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Anonymous said...

Great Blog. The last paragraph is an almost perfect description of why our church uses the "Loud On Purpose" brand.

tracey said...

yikes lauren - very sobering. thanks for the reminder.