A Pastor’s Take on Why Kids Leave the Faith

THEM: We let our kids decide whether they come to church or not.

ME: Really? Wow. I’m shocked they aren’t here.



I‘m amazed at the choices parents make with their kids.

For my entire pastoral career I have had kids at home. My eldest was a baby when I began pastoring. Her birth was, in fact, one of the reasons I took the job: I needed money!

Parenting is hard. I know, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” is a promise in the Bible. Proverbs are extreme statements that are not always true. There are proverbs in the Bible that contradict other proverbs in the Bible.

Parenting is hard. Pride goes before destruction. I’ve heard many a parent of young children brag about their parenting skills, even some who wrote books on parenting while their kids were still at home. I’ve seen many a proud parent become a weeping parent.

Since I’ve observed this trend, I have tried to avoid it in my own life. I try not to brag about my kids and certainly don’t go public in comparisons, nor assume that the way I raise my kids is how everyone should raise theirs. I once heard it said, “If God wanted you to raise my kids, He would have given them to you.” Amen.

I only give parenting advice if someone asks me. Very few have asked me. Even fewer have done what I said. I have taken this as further proof that no one really cares about my parenting theories.

My kids are older now. One is in college and the other two are very close to college age. I’m about done with the full-time parenting stuff. My kids were in subjection for the years they lived in my house. What they do now in their lives and with their faith is up to them. I and their mother did our best. We weren’t perfect, but we took stands and our kids know we love them and they know we love the Lord.

I think the evidence says I might know some things about parenting.

My kids fit into our schedule more than we fit into theirs. This one rule has guided many of our decisions.

I’m amazed at the number of parents who let their kids and their kids’ schedules dictate their church attendance. They skip for every excuse in the book: sports, homework, sleep, work, chilling, and various other things. They let their kids decide not only if the kids will go to church, but if the whole family will go!

That is insane!

Kids need parents to help them set priorities in life. Parents are always showing priorities to their kids. Kids are picking up on the fact that parents think sports, work, sleep, homework, and pretty much every other conceivable thing is more important than church. The reason why kids pick up on this is because for most parents all these things are more important than church.

Listen, if you want your kids to grow spiritually and follow Christ, it really helps if you are growing spiritually and following Christ! But parents aren’t, so neither do the kids. Parents skip church for sleep and work and everything else too. I often think parents just use kids as their excuse to make their church skipping sound more legit.

Then they wonder why their kids walk away from the Lord.

They walk away because they are following their parents (more specifically: their dad).

I’m not saying this is true for every kid or parent, I’ve seen what I would consider to be exceptions. But for the most part, I’ve yet to be shocked by what kids stick with the Lord and which ones don’t. Yet to be shocked.

I’m not a perfect parent, but my kids know I’m growing in the Lord. They know following Christ is of utmost importance to me. They see that. If they rebel, they rebel against lots of evidence. It’s up to them; they are grown adults now with decisions to make. They will make them. I’ve endeavored that if my kids chuck the faith, it will be despite my example, not because of it.



One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
–1 Timothy 3:4-5

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