Parenting can be messy.
From your children’s earliest days, you set boundaries, you discipline, you pour your life into your kids and trust that they’ll be drawn to your Christian faith and embrace it as their own. But one night, years later, your head hits the pillow, and you stare up at the ceiling through the darkness, distraught and wondering, “Where did we go wrong? We raised our kids in church. We prayed with them. We read the Bible to them. Now they’re questioning what they’ve been taught and are turning their backs on God.”
That’s a common scenario among parents of Millennials, the largest generation in American history. Nearly 80 million of them were born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. The discouraging news is that many Millennials walk away from their faith after they leave home or go off to college.
They’re lured away by the culture and by professors, classmates, roommates, or co-workers. Many Millennials say they had doubts early on but felt expressing them or asking questions was frowned upon, at church and at home. They were never given the space or the support to work through their uncertainties.
But there is good news. Research by Kara Powell at Fuller Seminary shows that around half begin returning to their Christian roots by the time they’re 30. You can also play a part in helping your children return to the journey if you understand more deeply what your Millennial is looking for in life. But it’ll take some time and some work.
Millennials are diverse. They’re passionate. They care about causes greater than themselves. They want to see authenticity. They’re looking for what’s real. They want to see their mom and dad trust Jesus through the storms of life. To Millennials, how you handle a crisis says as much about the authenticity of the Gospel as theological arguments – sometimes more.
Be open to listening. Give them freedom to share their doubts and don’t be too quick to offer pithy answers. Dialogue with them. Be in conversation. Be willing to drill down into your own walk and witness for Christ and to acknowledge ways that you may have fallen short.
Like I said, parenting can be messy. But there is hope.
With us in the studio are Dr. Alex McFarland and Jason Jimenez. Alex is a religion and culture expert, an author, and the director at the Apologetics and Worldview Center of North Greenville University. He also served at one time here at Focus on the Family as our teen apologetics expert. Jason is a former pastor who now writes and speaks extensively about reaching Millennials for Christ.
We’re in the middle of an in-depth, two-day discussion about helping your children re-ignite their faith and to own it for themselves. You don’t want to miss it. And you won’t if you check out “Helping Your Millennial Child Reconnect with God” on your local radio station, online, or on our free phone app.
Together Alex and Jason have written a book for Focus on the Family called “Abandoned Faith: Why Millennials Are Walking Away and How You Can You Can Lead Them Home.”