According to a study put out by Lifeway Research, approximately 70 percent of young adults stop attending church after high school. Few things can be more heartbreaking than watching an adult child stray from his or her faith. Sometimes they don’t necessarily lose faith, but are simply no longer interested in traditional church worship.
Of course, this doesn’t mean your child has abandoned God and His Word – but it does mean you may need to take action. There are several things concerned parents and grandparents can do when an adult child leaves the church.
Don’t Criticize or Try to Force Attendance
Sometimes the human response is to criticize or nag when our children aren’t living up to our expectations. But this may only drive them farther away and create resentment. Bribes shouldn’t be used either. Taking the kids out to dinner at their favorite restaurant if they’ll attend church with you the following morning isn’t a good habit to get into.
Attending church should be something an individual does because he or she truly wants to worship and be involved with other believers.
Find Out if There’s a Specific Reason
Unfortunately, people sometimes have negative experiences in church that drive them away. Your children may have felt mistreated when previously attending a particular church. It may be a difficult topic to broach, but finding out if a specific incident drove them away may be the key to helping them find their way back.
Perhaps they’ve never really attended a church except for the one they were raised in. Not every church is a good fit for each individual. The problem may be something as simple as finding the right denomination, or a different style of worship.
Be a Joyful Example
Do you complain about the pastor or others that attend your church? Are you judgmental about particular members of your church?
If parents complain about going to church or have a negative attitude, adult children quickly pick up on this. Being a joyful example to your children both in and out of church is one of the best ways to show how uplifting genuine faith can be. While it’s important to be positive, it’s also necessary to be real. Young adults want authenticity, and will quickly see through a facade.
Meet Millennials Where They Are
Young adults today are connected to social media in ways many older adults don’t understand. Encouraging kids to watch online sermons or to get involved with online faith groups may be one way to ease them into getting connected again. Getting out of the church building and into the community is something else young adults can more easily relate to.
Many millennials may be interested in participating in a church-related ministry that doesn’t specifically mean sitting in a pew on Sunday morning. Serving the poor in the community or going on a short-term mission trip may help young adults make the transition back to regular church attendance.
Help Them Develop Their Own Faith
When young adults leave for college they often don’t put in the effort to find a church or people of faith. They may work part-time jobs on the weekends that make it difficult to attend church services regularly.
The point is, young adulthood is often a time of instability and transition, and parents need to be patient while a young person questions or struggles to find their own identity. Sometimes, however, a child’s faith was never really their own, but their parent’s.
It’s important to remember that developing a genuine, personal faith in Christ is necessary to make church attendance relevant.
Don’t underestimate the power of prayer or grow weary in praying for your children. Join a group of other parents that are praying for wayward children. If there isn’t a group in your church or community, start one. With the rising number of young people leaving traditional churches there are almost certainly other people in similar situations.
Make sure to pray for yourself as well. Pray that you’ll show the right amount of love, grace, and patience in your specific situation.
Since there are many reasons young adults leave the church, not all of these examples are appropriate for each situation. It is important to remember that you’re not alone, and that there are countless stories of parents who waited many years for their children to come back to the church.
~ 1776 Christian