Are You Raising an Accidental Atheist?

(Part One of the five-part series)

I think I’m somewhat qualified to speak to the issue of raising Christian children.

At this moment, there are 6 children living under my roof: one “biological child”, two adopted and three foster children, ranging from ages 9 months to 20 years. We have another adult daughter, a 23-year old (also adopted) who later this spring will be getting married (the first sign of parental freedom…HOORAY!).

At that wedding, I’ll be marrying-off one daughter while our foster daughter is pulled down the aisle in a wagon, while throwing out rose petals. My guess is she’ll be eating more petals than she ever throws!

Since I’m a pastor who has moved quite a bit, I’ve raised my children in a variety of conditions. Over the years, we’ve lived everywhere from the Bible Belt of Tennessee to the heat of Southern Florida, and even the inner city of

Our kids have been home-schooled, Christian-schooled, and public schooled as well.

And since all my kids aren’t from my own “gene pool” (people who know me well consider this as a blessing), we’ve experienced all personality types and cultures. We have an artsy child and several sporty children. We have an African-American and a Puerto Rican amidst a sea of “white-bread Caucasians”. We have one highly driven and one easily distracted (with full-blown ADHD).

You might say I’ve experienced a broad spectrum of parenting challenges… to say the least!

Through these challenging years, I’ve watched quite a few parents make huge mistakes in raising their children. But I’m not judging – I’ve also made some whoppers of my own. While I’d like to tell you everything will work out OK, the statistics don’t point in that direction.

Recent studies by the Barna Group and USA Today claim that around 75 percent of Christian young people walk away from church following high school. Sure, a lot of these would claim to still be Christians. But the honest truth is, they are not “practicing Christians” anymore. God has been pushed more and more to the outskirts of their world. Most are, in reality, practicing atheists.

The stats get more troubling. A 2007 study from LifeWay Research and Ministry Development found that 70% actually leave the faith in college. The worst news – only 35% of Christian young adults eventually return to faith at all, not to mention church attendance.

I think many Christian parents like me are sabotaging their kid’s spiritual development. In fact, many of us are actually inoculating our kids against ever catching a potent strain of the Christian faith.

That’s why I’d like to spend the next several posts to warn you about how you might be raising an accidental atheist. Hopefully, together we can learn how to keep our kids in the faith and avoid the traps causing them to stray.

Stay tuned – things are about to get interesting. When you’re a parent, hearing the truth about your kids can be a hard thing to swallow. But in the end, honesty can be good medicine, when taken under the care of a Great Physician.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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