Monday, October 13, 2008

Evangelism... to our families: Intro

How many of you know a pastor who was a seemingly great leader, solid in his teaching, and uncompromising in his faith, but he lost some or all of his children? For those of you who can't think of any right away, what about Billy Sunday, the great evangelist? I do not want to discredit the great work this man did, but he lost his children in the process.

This is a serious issue, even to this day. I think this is the most underestimated and least talked about field of missions, and this comes as a detriment to the Christian church. In a 2006 New Your Times article, a statistic was mentioned that current trends show that perhaps 95% of Christian teens will loose their faith by adulthood! That means only 5 % will even be Christians by the time they are raising their own families! Now perhaps this may be a little extreme, but this definitely shows there is a problem.

Gene Edward Veith makes a good observation on his blog. He notes that Amish still somehow maintain an 85% "conversion" rate among their children.

So why is this happening? Why are we loosing our children? How can the Amish, with their simple lifestyle and legalistic restrictions far outdo the Christian church? What is the church doing wrong? Do we need to invent better youth programs? Do we need to cater more to where the youth are going, and try and fit God into more of what the youth are doing?

I want each of you to think about this issue, especially those of you who have your own children you are raising right now. I also want these thoughts I jot down, to cause each of you who are teens yourselves, to take time to consider the direction you are going, and to consider how the things you do now will affect your life latter on.

I would love to hear your input on this issue as well. Feel free to comment!

NOTE: (I will disallow comments on each of the following post until I have reached my conclusion, as I will be dealing with different aspects individually, and I do not want one issue to be blown to far out of proportion without considering the problem and solution as a whole)


Jon said...

Evangelism through our families and to our Youth is critical and I appreciate your willingness to tackle this question. I speak to this as well at

Julie said...

Hi, Peter.

Great topic! Question: What does being a great leader, solid in teaching, and uncompromising in faith have to do with parenting?? Billy Sunday lost his children because he was a poor parent. His ministry had nothing to do with it.

Parents either possess or lack understanding when it comes to raising their children. Parenting well really is its own calling, or vocation. Christian parents, in particular, are very presumptuous and spiritually neglect the children placed in their care to attend to some work of their own making.

I agree with you, this is a serious issue and the least talked about field of missions. But do you know why 95% of Christian teens will lose their faith by adulthood? It is because parents are misrepresenting Christ and his gospel.

How can a parent claim to believe things like,
"You are not your own, you've been bought with a price...."
"If you lose your life for my sake you'll find it...."
"Life is a vapor...."
and then conduct life in such a "nice, predictable" way. Nothing about Jesus was "nice and predictable". He didn't live in a little box like that and Christian parents misrepresent him when they
do. Kids are confused because their parents are spiritually pragmatic. You show me a parent who is humble and relentless in his pursuit of God and I'll show you a kid who is off to a fine start in the same pursuit.

We parents have to start letting some truths about God sober us up and make us a little less sure of ourselves. All of scripture testifies to that truth stated so succinctly by C.S.Lewis: God is not "safe" but He's good.

Jesus is not the flannel graph sweetie of Sunday School fame. He the master that calls us to love Him and His will more than our rights, ambitions, and dreams. He invites us to trade in our small, dingy little selves for the abiding presence of Himself and the Father.

Kids want to see the real deal. Parents need to start dealing with God now as if we were poor, undone, and desperately needy. Jesus said poverty of spirit is a good thing. Let's give our kids the benefit of having parents who take Him seriously.

This is terribly urgent. You are right to bring it up.


Julie Tonning

p.s. Hi to all your family.

Peter Pillman said...

Greetings everyone.

Thank you for your interest in this subject. This subject has been on my heart "like a burning fire" (Jer, 20:9) for some time. I apologize I haven't been able to post the first part yet.

A big thank you to both of you for your input! (May I say you have both given me added thoughts to consider)

And greetings to the whole Tonning Family as well! (Beth.........Joel)