After spending the last four years of my life engaged in tween media and ministry (www.iShinelive.com) , I’ve had the privilege to hang out with some of the most profound thinkers and observers of Christian culture in our generation. ALL of them point to statistics first and personal experience second on this age issue…
Statistics say that 3/10 kids from Christian families will still be in a church or community of faith after age 18. According to research from George Barna (author of Best sellers like; Revolutionary Parenting & Maximum Faith) and data researched by the Barna Group ; surveys of 8- to 12-year-olds has shown:
2% possess a biblical world-view
18% believe in moral absolutes.
32% believe that Jesus was resurrected
36% believe that the Bible is totally accurate
40% believe that the purpose of life is to love God fully
67% believe that being a “good person” equals salvation
68% believe that good people can earn salvation
70% of 8- to 12-year-olds in America believe there is no Satan
80% say the Bible, the Koran and the Book of Mormon teach the same truths…
Pretty shocking statistics, even for someone who works in and around these issues every day. The bottom line for parents is this; an hour a week in sunday school will NOT offset an average of 80 hours a week consuming mass media. We will have to INTENTIONALLY engage our tweens with the details of our faith. Not by forcing more bible study, or expanded devotionals every night at the dinner table…not by disciplining them into outward compliance, but by the sheer integrity of our own parenting faith.
We will only win their hearts for Christ by the way we treat our spouses, friends and co-workers. By what we say and don’t say about our brothers and sisters in the faith and by how we invest our time, money and resources for self…or for others. Faith has a way of declaring itself to be real to those who are closest to us. Our kids know if we’re the genuine article or not. The question is… will they be so affected by our lifestyle of authentic and practical faith they might want it too?
“Satan would probably love 90% of what goes on in the church in America,” says Francis Chan. “‘I don’t even need to deceive them. They’re deceiving themselves.’ We must set the example as people who live by faith.”
So the answer to today’s question… is YES to age 12. Not only is the answer “YES”, but statistics suggest we should be actively asking them about what they do believe at this age! Not passively assuming they are absorbing what we believe.
Further research shows that our kids will decide by the age of 13 if the the Jesus we proclaim is going to become their own. The ultimate illustration of our parenting faith is not found in dedicated church attendance or scripture memorization, but in our LOVE and practical application of what we say we believe.
As the father of three teens, I pray often for Christ to show me the specific areas of my kids hearts that need to be “won” for Him. And when I begin to see the areas of doubt, pain and hurt that have blocked His message of hope and joy and peace, I go after those as best I can…praying all the way for grace to cover up all of my faults and flaws and inconsistencies.
To be clear…I’m not fixated on age 12, I am fixated on the condition of my kids hearts. I know that God can capture any heart at any age, what I’m hoping for is that our kids won’t run from him when he does 🙂
School is about to resume.
Patterns of life are being set, I want to be sure I keep focused on my family and the healthiest possible patterns of love and faith inside our home, trusting God to handle things beyond our door.
King Josiah stepped into leadership as a tween, Jesus himself began to teach others in the synagogue at age 12 and we know that Mary was as young teen when she embraced the honor of being a miraculous mother to Christ. From the biblical pattern of scripture, we can certainly see that God uses Tween’s, and when he does…it changes the world. How cool is that ?