At the moment I am preparing for our adult training this Wednesday by reviewing a tremendous problem of such proportions that Josh McDowell has written a book about it titled The Last Christian Generation. That’s right, the problem that we as Christians are facing is that we are “potentially” living within the last Christian generation here in America.
How can this be?
There are three primary reasons why this is the case. The reason that I say primary is that these problems do not exist in a vacuum by themselves. There are numerous issues pouring into these three primary problems as a faucet into a bathtub.
The three primary reasons why we may be living within the last Christian generation is due to a low birth rate within America, a nonexistent Biblical worldview among Christians, and the 70% to 88% of teens leaving the church by the end of their freshman year in college or by the time they are 19 (some estimates have this figure around 94%. Irrespective of the numbers, the reality of our situation is that many of our children are not carrying on the faith) (Note: Voddie Baucham is responsible for bringing to light the problems associated with a low birth rate that hovers right around the replacement. You see, if there is an average of 2.3 births within the country and there were no new people who moved into our country, then our population would stay the same. However, if the birth rate were to drop below 2.3 and no new people would move in, then our population would decrease and eventually become nonexistent).
If you are uncertain to the severity of this situation, let me quote at length Voddie Baucham from his work titled Family Driven Faith,
“With a birth rate hovering around two children per family, a biblical worldview rate of 10%, and about 75% of our teens leaving the church by the end of their freshman year in college (using the more optimistic estimates from Chapter 1), it currently takes two Christian families in one generation to get a single Christian into the next generation. ‘Houston, we have a problem'” (174)
Taking these numbers and working them out mathematically, this is how it would look in four generations if we begin with 4 million people.
In generation 1 we have 4 million people. By generation 2, this number has dwindled to 1 million. Generation 3 would have nearly 250,000 and generation 4 would be an appalling 62,500 people left (ibid., 174).
The reality of our situation is this, at our current rate of ministry there will be no remnant of Christians left in America. This is why there must be something different done in terms of the way we approach ministering not only to Christians, but reaching out to non-Christians as well. At this moment, it is fitting for us to revisit the words of Albert Einstein who defined insanity in this way, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Even though there are a myriad of things that can be done differently to change our situation, there is no one right answer except that something needs to be done.
Nevertheless, it is imperative that we as parents and guardians oversee the discipline and discipleship of our children and not subjugate to someone else, even paid “professionals” as myself. We have been explicitly commanded by God to ensure that we take this role and fulfill this responsibility in the lives of our children (see Deuteronomy 6 and Ephesians 6.1-4 for starters). Since this is the case, it is of the utmost importance for the church, who is comprised of the body of Christ submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and governed by multiple elders and not considered some organization or country club, in coming alongside of parents and guardians in encouraging and equipping them to do the work that God has called them to do.
With all of this being said in a bit of a tangent, ask yourself in light of God’s Word how you and your family are doing in light of His commands in passing on the faith. Also ask yourself what you are doing to ensure that others are committed to Christ, His body, and to serving Him. Are there friends or acquaintances that your children have who would be blessed by being immersed with your family during dinner or activities to see faith worked out amongst you?
All of this is said with grace, because my family and I are far from perfect, especially in the area of conducting family worship and reaching out to others. Nevertheless, be encouraged to know that what God requires of us He will empower us to do (see Philippians 2.13).
May He be gracious and merciful as we strive to live for His glory and enjoy Him forever!