My son grew up in the church. He was baptized at 8 years old and enjoyed going to bible school and church activities. When he went to college he seemed to lose all interest in church and now doesn’t believe in Jesus. How do I evangelize to him without turning him off completely? He will go to church with me when he visits but won’t discuss religion or his faith with me. He says it’s too personal. Other than living a Godly life and praying for him is there anything else I can do?
That is a great question.
First and most importantly, I want to acknowledge that this is a real burden. I would carry a daily grief of sorts in my heart if either of my children walked away from the Lord. There are others in the community who are regularly praying for one another’s adult children (@Tim_Ramey, @kelelek).
It looks to me like your son knows what you believe quite well? He grew up in the church, was actively involved, had years of Bible study and sermons, and other ways of learning what Christianity is all about. If this is a fair understanding, then I think it is unlikely that he needs more information.
Given that your son will visit church with you, it seems like he wants to maintain a good relationship with you and that he respects your beliefs. That’s really encouraging! The downside, perhaps, is that he avoids discussing religion because he doesn’t want to get into a fight with you or hurt your feelings?
In that case, the key question is to prayerfully ask how can you build even more trust with him on top of this good foundation of respect and a solid relationship. I think that in addition to living a godly life, and loving your son well, you may want to try two things:
Continue to let your son know that your love for him is unconditional. The point is that whatever he believes, or doesn’t believe, you will love him. In that context, express that your desire is to have a deeper friendship, to be able to honestly communicate from the heart what you each believe, and to better understand how your son sees things. Let him know that you would rather have a stronger, more open relationship even if that means your feelings get hurt than to have your feelings protected but feel that there is a distance between you and him.
Ask a lot of questions, listen well, and acknowledge his point of view. Resist the desire to rebut, refute, attack, preach, quote the Bible, etc. Wait until he asks for your point of view. The more you are able to have an open conversation, the better. He’s heard your beliefs for his entire childhood; give him some time to share his point of view with you.
If he tests this out, and sees that it is safe to be candid with you about what he believes, then at the very least you will have a better relationship with him. You’ll also have more clarity for how to pray for him. And over time, perhaps you can ask further questions that lead him to re-examine his new belief system, and consider if it really is a better alternative to Christianity.
I hope this helps a little bit.
Thank @CarsonWeitnauer for your reply. I really appreciated your response.
I would reiterate what you mentioned in your above response. I would say I was probably one of those young men just like your son @PeggyR. My parents never rebuked me in the way I was living. But they would be careful not to encourage me in the way I was living either. My mom was someone I could always talk to about my questions of life. She was always careful to listen to me and not give a hasty answer! I wish I could be more like her:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:! But my mom and dad would always tell me that they were praying for me and that they loved me! When I was living the way I was I could feel the prayers of my mom in my life and I hated them. I just wanted her to stop praying! But I believe I am the man I am today because of Mom’s prayers! Just want to encourage you in that. Your prayers are doing more than you realize. Will your son come back? I don’t know. But remember we have a Heavenly Father who loves your son even more than you do! He hears your prayers, and Lord willing, your son will come to himself and realize the love and mercy to found in not only your arms but also the Father’s. I will keep you in my prayers! Blessings
Thank you for the reply. Yes, he knows and I think understands my beliefs very well. He and I have a close, loving relationship and I am careful not to try to preach to him
or quote scripture (even though I would like to). Your suggestions make sense to me and I will work on that when he comes to see me in May. Thank you very much.
God bless you,
- “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without
all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.” - John Wesley*
Peggy, Carson made mention of me and another sister who, we have mutually been in prayer for each other’s children but have branched out to include others. If you’d like to understand what we are about, go to @Bible_Memorization_Group . We are memorizing 2 verses of Colossians 1 per week and have another thread that we list ones to be in prayer for.
Thank you for your post. I am praying for a son and a daughter right now. I love what you said “When I was living the way I was I could feel the prayers of my mom in my life and I hated them. I just wanted her to stop praying!” - This encourages me - to keep going. Blessings to you.
My heart truly aches with you regarding where your son is currently as I am continually in prayer for my own two daughters. I just never saw it coming; but God is faithful!
I would also like to extend the invitation with Tim to join the memorization group! As he mentioned, in parallel with the posting of the verses, Tim creates a prayer tread. For example, last week he posted the verses “Colossians 1:19-20”. On this tread there is discussion or comments regarding the verses. Then a second tread is started called “Colossians 1:19-20 Prayer”. Here is where any prayer requests from the group can be posted…or any praise reports! I might also mention that there is no pressure to stay at the same pace with the memorization!! The last book the group was working on was Philippians. I got no where near as many verses tucked into my brain as others in the group, but stayed with the group and continued at my own pace. I enjoyed learning and gleaning information that others shared. Have the bandwidth to keep up in Colossians, but felt no pressure when I couldn’t with Philippians. In the prayer section, we pray for one another. When sharing, keep in mind, it’s a public forum and anyone has access to what you post.
Kevin - Thank you for sharing your testimony. I agree with Darlene, what a boost for faith to continue in prayer!!
Carson - Such great advice! Unconditional love is a powerful force!
Blessings to all~
@darlene God Bless you Darlene! I am sure it is very difficult to see your children make choices you don’t like. I don’t have children that are old enough yet to make their own decisions but I look back on what I put my parents through and cringe. It makes me lift up my little children to God’s throne every day and ask for wisdom myself to help me to teach them what is right and Lord willing they will grab hold of it for themselves.
Thank you for your encouragement to me! May God lead your children into all truth. Blessings