Our two kids have grown up in an evangelistic christian home, regular ss and church attendance, Bible schools, YWAM and other christian related treks, and now in their late 30’s with kids, have turned from truth, and become very liberal/tolerant in their beliefs, love covers everything, no hell, many ways to God, OT just stories, etc, etc…no longer reading the bible, and have never taught or read Bible stories to their kids. They don’t like the way we talk truth to their kids, our grand kids. Talking to them is pretty well fruitless, discussions/arguments go no where…so what is the root of this, and how can one dig at the roots instead of discussing all this other stuff? We are basically now just praying for them, and trying hard to leave this burden on us with the Lord. We are searching for advise, guidance, wisdom on how to relate in the meantime.
You’re already doing the best thing: praying. So definitely continue to fervently do that. As to the other, if they’re already theists at least, that takes you so far. Now it’s about them understanding the nature of God. The “all ways lead to God” worldview collapses on itself, as all truth is exclusive by nature. If I say there is only one way to God, and they say no, they’re making a truth claim that my way is wrong, which refutes their own claim that all ways lead to God. Regarding love covering all and there being no hell, that means that there’s no ultimate justice. I can live however I want to live and I’m covered in God’s love, even if I don’t want it or even believe in God. Is a justice-less universe one that they want their kids growing up in? Someone could come kidnap those children and you’d have to understand that those kidnappers will be in Heaven right beside you, no matter what they do to those children, even without repentance. No justice after all, no moral punishment, nothing we do really matters, since God will save everyone. I don’t know anyone who believes that worldview.
These words are obviously divorced from the emotion of the actual situation, and I don’t want to minimize that. It’s very real to you, clearly. Continue praying, know that you aren’t alone, and seek godly wisdom. Pray that the Spirit gives you the right words to say. Ultimately, that’s the best wisdom you can get.
If it helps I was your kids at 30. My mother and my Dad would have said the same thing about me and they would have been right. That was 30+ years ago and my journey is yet to be finished. I hope in some small way this will encourage you to make your self available as God gives you opening to speak to their hearts.
I came to understand in a real way how Saul (so to be Paul) a righteous man must have felt went he understood our Lord’s admonition, ……It is hard for you to kick against the goads!’ (Acts 26:14b)
@Clapodie I really appreciate your heart for your kids and I hope we are mutually encouraged by @Jimmy_Sellers testimony. When I was a youth pastor, I read some research that suggested children may wander away from what their parents taught in their twenties and early thirties, but fairly often they drift back in later life. That is not a guarantee of anything, but I think it can be an encouragement along with @Jimmy_Sellers story to remain hopeful.
I’ve provided a link to a book and some articles below that could hopefully help you understand why this generation struggles to remain faithful to Christ and how we can be a witness to those we love as we seek to lead them home. I grew up in the same generation as your kids and I have friends who have left the faith as well. I think there are a few common elements in what helps people embrace Christianity wholeheartedly that Tim Keller has noted:
- rational - Christianity makes sense to them as a worldview
- social - they find acceptance and encouragement within a community of believers
- emotional - they have personally experienced God at the level of the emotions
Sometimes we think peoples’ objections to Christianity are mostly intellectual because they accept false beliefs, when in reality their objection is at an emotional or social level and the rational attacks are simply manifestations of those deeper issues. So we need to be very sensitive when speaking truth - if we speak the truth they need to hear at the wrong time - when their heart is not open - it can do more damage than good.
In my experience with friends and based upon the articles below, here is the summary advice I would give in this situation (and I hope to hear from others like @Jimmy_Sellers who have returned to the faith):
- don’t blame yourself or give into worry. focus on prayerfully loving them and the goodness of God
- spend quality time with your kids
- ask meaningful questions about their view of life and do not correct their wrong beliefs. Just give them space to share who they are without being told they are wrong.
- have conversations about meaningful things from the Bible that they can agree with you on - like helping the immigrant or the orphan and avoid preaching - try to have a back and forth
- go out of your way to do things that would make them feel both loved and respected
- listen more than talking - especially on matters of faith
Piper also made a great point about trying to have other believers who may be able to relate to them well reach out to them. If their doubts are mostly rational, it could be helpful to go to RZIM events where they could ask questions or listen to talks. But it sounds like they are already opposed to Christian ideas, which may mean its not the right time for such direct intervention. The Lord guide your steps.
When you genuinely love people and do your best to show them respect they know it. And if you give them space to be themselves then they may come to you when they are struggling and that would be the time to speak. May the Lord Jesus open the eyes and hearts of your kids! Hope those thoughts are helpful and my prayers are with you.
Here is another post where I provide some resources for reaching the millennial generation:
@Clapodie. I too raised a child in the church. Just as I had been raised. When she was about 17 I discovered she had been living with duplicity. She was fired for bringing in her boyfriend and engaging in sex while at work.
Even today I can not remember all that was said that night, but I do remember the intensity of my anger and my shame. I remember raging until she began to cry. In my house you did not sass, that was to invite physical destruction. After I sent her away from me and went broken hearted to my room, the Lord began to minister to my brokenness. Then He asked me to do some things.
Crying myself I called her into the kitchen and hugged her and asked her to forgive me. I explained how much my heart was breaking but that I had assumed a role that belonged to GOD. I said that she would always be my sweet baby, but the decision that she had made went beyond my influence and responsibility. I said that her future conversations would be with the Lord, I had done my best. What awaited her was in her hands.
What came next was difficult to watch. A life steep in lasciviousness. She was in the Military and often I would think, she is in harm’s way, yet, she can’t afford to die; she is not ready. But, I was impressed to relinquish to the Lord what actually belonged to Him. Loving her and holding my peace unless my voice was requested became my struggle.
I would have never allowed their lifestyle to invade my home, but when in their home and their World, I assumed a position of respect. I did not preach at them, I just loved them. Looking for ways to be a blessing while I was there. Talking to the Lord about what came next. Reminding myself to trust GOD concerning the fruit of my labor. They belonged to GOD. Sometimes that meant I was avoided because they knew my life and stance in life.
They did marry. And, as they both enter the second half of the age 30, they are, together, living for Christ. I had an armchair view of the hills and valleys they traversed. From infidelity, pills, alcoholism, debt and very nearly divorce. But through it all, GOD was faithful. I will never forget whose children they truly are, so even now I am quick to back-up and allow GOD. I love them, but GOD Loves Them.
Thank you for the testimonies! I am currently watching and praying for both of my children. It’s truly a blessing to hear how God has changed lives. I look forward to the day when I can speak of my kid’s awakening.
Thank you so much for all the responses. They have been very encouraging! God bless you all as you all work through your own family issues, and thank him for the ones He has brought you through.
I love this thread and have found it so encouraging, reminding me how God never gives up and that we are not alone in our struggles. My hubby and I have 3 kids, our oldest son and his wife are sold out believers. Our 2nd son is getting married in just a few weeks and our daughter in law, who is a military Chaplain was to perform the ceremony. But when she sent them a script outline, the couple made it known they do not want a Christian ceremony. This was a heartbreaker to us, bursting our bubble that his Christianity has just been placed on the back burner, sort of dormant if you will. But it did open up the dialogue and make us pull our heads out of the sand. Our son is very moral and successful in the world’s eyes, and very respectful of us. He finds Christianity, or any spirituality for that matter, quite irrelevant to his life which seems to be bumping along just fine. Our daughter is much more vehement in her opposition to Christianity, and expresses some anger over having been sent to a Christian school and having been “brainwashed.” Somehow she never received the message we always tried to teach of a God of grace, mercy and love, but rather sees “our God” and a God of judgment, ready to pounce on any little indiscretion. We scratch our heads over how each of our children could be in such vastly different places spiritually, having been raised in the same home with the same gospel message. And to be honest, sometimes find ourselves asking God why those thousands upon thousands of prayers over the years do not seem to have borne fruit.
But I loved the encouragement from Jimmy_Sellers! God continues to remind me that their stories are far from over. And Sean’s words and articles are soooo encouraging and answer the question I continue to ask with all sincerity - “What really would Jesus do, and say, to my kids?” I think there is so much truth there in the advice there. It is such a huge issue for us, I think sometimes it is hard not to get overly passionate, which translates to our kids as a heated debate and finally, a topic we can’t discuss with love and respect. And that is the last thing I want.
And while I’ve been typing this I’ve been texting with my son and his fiancé and God has been at work! They just said they would love my daughter in law to open the ceremony with prayer and read 1 Corinthians 13! Another reminder from God that there is more going on than we can see with our physical eyes.
So, we will continue to love our kids, treasure the goodness and gifts in them, and allow them to question and pursue truth in anyway they need to. We will be the father of the prodigal son, watching for them to return, always believing they will come home. I will let God be God and I will simply be a witness to his goodness and grace. It is after all, His kindness that leads us to repentance. I am also so encouraged to remember that God has put eternity in the hearts of men. Every man, woman and child. There is a hunger to know Him.
So thank you Clapodie for starting the dialogue and know that you are not alone in the yearning for your kids to fall in love with Jesus. And their stories are far from over.