If there’s one word we could use to sum up the attitudes of many “Christian” children towards God and the things of God, it would be “apathetic.”
They simply don’t care. Because of this, many children of believers will profess Christianity, but live as if God doesn’t exist–as atheists. And while many things over the course of a child’s life can lead to this sort of living, it starts at home.
This is why the Bible stresses parents to raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Proverbs 20:7), and why Paul addresses each member of the household in Ephesians 5-6 and Colossians 3. Sadly, this is a foreign concept in the majority of Christian homes, with parents leaving the church to instruct their kids one day a week and the world to instruct them the other six days. Who do you think is the more effective teacher?
Because of this, children are left ill-equipped to understand, let alone defend, their faith apart from a few cute Bible stories and out of context verses. Armed with such weak faith, what chance do they stand in our hostile, anti-God world?
Let’s look at 4 ways in which we’re teaching our children to be atheist, and how to change course.
1. We don’t worship together as a family
In the same way that the home is ground zero for a child’s physical and mental development, it’s ground zero for a child’s spiritual development as well. It’s there that the dust and grime of the world should be washed clean through the preaching of the Word. It’s there that Christian children should be trained in all manners of righteousness, so that when they depart and wrestle with the world, they’ll come through victorious.
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.Proverbs 22:6
The only way to achieve this, is to center our homes upon Christ, and that starts with family worship. Here’s why. Family worship:
Glorifies God – This is the most important reason for family worship. Putting God first in your home glorifies God and teaches children that God comes before everything else.
Promotes Christian character – We have a tendency to be more Christlike in public than we do in our own homes, letting our guards down and giving sin a foothold. Family worship promotes us to live righteously in our homes as well.
Trains children in corporate worship – Kids are by nature, noisy, squirming little creatures. Family worship is a great way to teach kids that the preaching of God’s word is serious business and should be met with respect and honor.
Sets a Christ-like example – Family worship shows your kids that God is the center of the home and thus their lives. Remember, we don’t just want to raise morally upright children, but faithful worshipers of the triune God.
Reinforces the doctrine of federal headship – The biblical framework of the family has the father at the head, leading his family before God’s throne. Family worship allows the father to disciple his children in the things of Christ daily, which in turn, causes them to increasingly look to him for spiritual leadership.
If your family is guilty of neglecting family worship, it’s never too late to change your ways. With your husband leading (or the woman, in the case of single mothers), pick a time of the day to meet together, and use that time to sing hymns, read from the scriptures, and pray together as family.
2. We don’t teach our children to pray
Prayer is the most important aspect of the Christian walk, but the most neglected. And if we’re not praying, it’s doubtful we’re teaching our children to pray.
This is a tragedy because it’s in prayer that we commune with God, repent of sin, learn to seek his will, and intercede on behalf of others. It’s in prayer that we find strength to withstand temptation, courage when we’re afraid, and peace in the midst of fiery trials.
If our children don’t pray, who or what do they turn to in the midst of trials and tragedies? How do they draw closer to God and learn what His will is for their life? They’ll turn inward, making themselves the god of their life, like the atheist, who relies on his or her own strength. And they’ll turn outward, to the world who will sell them pretty lies.
Prayer plumes the wings of God’s young eaglets so that they may learn to mount above the clouds. Prayer brings inner strength to God’s warriors and sends them forth to spiritual battle with their muscles firm and their armor in place.Charles Spurgeon
So, if you want your child to live a victorious Christian life, then prayer must be central, not peripheral, in their lives. Teach them to talk to God daily.
3. We let Hollywood be their nanny
Out of the 168 hours in a week, American children spend on average 23 hours a week looking at their device. In this way Hollywood has become a convenient nanny, a way for some parents to escape responsibility (I’m not saying TV is evil or that allowing your child to watch TV is a sin. We should simply monitor and curate what they watch).
Don’t get me wrong, the internet and social media are great tools for evangelizing and fellowshipping with faraway believers. But at the same time, they’re filled with all manners of debauchery and licentiousness promoted and hailed as good.
Look no further than the rapper Lil Nas X who made headlines recently when he launched his controversial “Satan shoes”–a pair of shoes adorned with satanic symbols, a reference to the Bible passage Luke 10:18, and containing one drop of human blood. As if those things weren’t enough to drive the point home, only 666 pairs were created, all of which sold out in under a minute.
Pictures of those shoes, along with the Satanic, homoerotic music video the shoes were meant to promote, were all over the internet and social media. Of course, we wouldn’t knowingly let our children go anywhere near such blatant evil. But what about Hollywood’s more subtle tactics?
For example, this same rapper, Lil Nas X, came out with song last year called “Old Town Road”. It’s a seemingly benign song about a country boy’s love for horses–a song I’ve heard children sing by heart and hum along to in the car. But when asked about the meaning of the song, Lil Nas X proudly explained that it’s actually about adultery and drugs.
If we want our children to live like the Christians they profess to be, we must not only strictly limit and monitor what they entertain themselves with, we must replace it with God’s Word. Only by being washed in the Word daily, can our children contend with the world and win.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.Philipians 4:8
4. We don’t fellowship with other believers
Last, but not least, we teach our children to be atheists by neglecting to fellowship with believers. This is such an important doctrine, that God strongly condemns those who willfully renounce fellowship with the Church.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.Hebrews 10:24-27
This is not something we should come to begrudgingly, and not something that we should relegate to one day a week. A great example of this is the early church, who were characterized by all who saw them, by their “togetherness.”
- All who believed were together and had all things in common (Acts 2:44)
- They were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need (Acts 2:45)
- And day by day attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes (Acts 2:46)
Our children need to see us breaking bread with believers, praying with them, and sacrificing our time and resources for them. They need to hear how God is working in the lives of other believers–that God is not this secret God that only their family prays to, but that He’s a vast and powerful God who’s intricately involved in the the lives of all believers.
Sisters, we are not called to be islands. We are called to be a part of a community of believers and should elevate fellowship in our lives. If we do, it will be elevated in the lives of our children as well, allowing them to nurture Christian relationships that will hold them accountable instead of worldly relations that will lead them astray.
Some Christians try to go to heaven alone, in solitude; but believers are not compared to bears, or lions, or other animals that wander alone; but those who belong to Christ are sheep in this respect, that they love to get together. Sheep go in flocks and so do God’s people.C.H. Spurgeon
A lot has been said here and a lot has been left unsaid. Raising children is by no means an easy task. Harder still, you can raise a child the right way and they might still rebel against God (think of some of David’s children).
We know that God is the one who saves, so by faith we raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, modeling for them a Christ-centered life, and praying that God would cause them to walk with Him all their days.