The Danger of Growing Up in Church
As a mom and former children’s ministry director, I know the joy of seeing kids excited about Jesus. I’ve also been at it long enough to know the heartbreak of seeing former students walk away entirely as they got older.
Mark Batterson, a mega church pastor in DC, said this in his book, All In, “My greatest concern as a pastor is that people can go to church every week of their lives and never go all in with Jesus Christ. They can follow the rules but never follow Christ. I’m afraid we’ve cheapened the gospel by allowing people to buy in without selling out.” (p. 20)
I think this is especially dangerous for children.
They are brought up in the knowledge of the gospel—it’s embedded in their minds. They are encouraged early to accept Jesus as their Savior and many of them do make a profession.
This is not wrong but we must be mindful of whether the child is really ready to give their life to Jesus or whether they are simply following the natural course. Only God knows their heart, of course, and we should never discourge a child from making a decision for the Lord; but, this is where careful teaching, poignant questions, and discipleship are key. We need to let children know it’s ok to ask questions and wait to make a decision until they are ready.
I’ve watched too many teens walk away without a second thought. Teens that seemed to know Christ personally, who came from a Christian home, went through church ministries and some even Christian schools; but, when they got out from their parent’s they had no faith of their own.
It would seem that they followed the natural course of a spiritual journey but never truly surrendered to the Lord. They are Spirit Bred and not Spirit Led. They walked away easily because they never felt the presence of the Lord in their lives. They never surrendered their lives to Jesus.
Growing up in church is great. But, it’s vital that we, as leaders and parents, help kids understand that the gospel, “costs us nothing but requires everything.” (Batterson).
So, how can we help kids know whether they are saved?
2 Corinthians 5:14-21 (NET) is a great passage to walk them through to help them.
14 For the love of Christ controls us, since we have concluded this, that Christ died for all; therefore all have died.
(When believe in the gift of Jesus Christ and we take part in the work of the cross, we crucify our flesh and the desires of the flesh on that cross so that we no longer live for the things of this world but for the things of God)
15 And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised.
(Becoming identified with Jesus, salvation, means we do not live to please ourselves anymore; but, we live to represent and glorify God.)
16 So then from now on we acknowledge no one from an outward human point of view. Even though we have known Christ from such a human point of view, now we do not know him in that way any longer.
17 So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away—look, what is new has come!
(We are born of the Spirit of God and not under the rule of our flesh. We are now God’s children and His Holy Spirit lives in us to give us guidance and power to overcome)
18 And all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation.
(we are to go and tell others so they can have a restored relationship with God)
19 In other words, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s trespasses against them, and he has given us the message of reconciliation.
20 Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His plea through us. We plead with you on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God!”
21 God made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God.
(Jesus gave His righteousness—His Goodness—to us in exchange for our sin. He paid full price with His perfect blood! SO, having accepted Him, His righteousness, His free gift, we belong to God. We are in His family as adopted children. We are not of this world but Heaven and are called to live separate—set apart for God’s purpose. And, we are His voice to the world to share His good news.)
Growing up with the knowledge of Jesus Christ and God's love and grace is a gift; but, we must not take it for granted.