When Your Children Stray from the Church

emptypewsJames and Holly may not have been perfect parents, but they did the best they could when rearing their daughter and two sons. The kids never had to worry about where the next meal was coming from. They attended good schools, had good friends, made some good childhood memories. More importantly, James and Holly made sure church was part of their children’s weekly life. All three were baptized and confirmed. They were at Sunday School, VBS, and weekly church services. These parents trained up their children in the way they should go, as Proverbs 22 says. And now that they are old, they have not departed from it.

Actually, only one of them hasn’t. Their oldest son is still active in his local parish. But their youngest son and their daughter—they may go to church when Easter rolls around, but even then, they usually stay home. For James and Holly, it’s more than disappointing; it’s a deep ache that won’t go away. They stress over if and how they failed as parents. They’re worried sick not only about their children, but about their grandchildren who are growing up unbaptized, untaught, with little or no knowledge of God and what He’s done for us in Christ.

These parents are far from alone. Scattered throughout all denominations are moms and dads whose greatest disappointment in life is that their children have seemingly abandoned the faith. And they’re all wondering the same things: Why? Where did we go wrong as parents? And what can we do to bring our children back to church?

This is a hard struggle with no easy fix, but perhaps the following reflections will prove helpful. This is not a to-do list. It is written for your consolation and encouragement as you bear this cross. You are welcome to add your own thoughts in the comment section below.

  1. The water of baptism never evaporates. If your children were baptized, either as infants or when they were older, they cannot become unbaptized. God the Father made them His children in that Gospel-saturated water. And because He did it, it remains a perfect, saving work. They can try to walk away from their baptism, but that’s as impossible as walking away from gravity. Yes, sadly, they can deny or reject what God has done for them in these saving waters, but even then, the fact they are baptized as God’s son or daughter remains as true as ever. God loves them. He baptized them. He claimed them as His own. If and when you can, remind them of this beautiful truth. It is the kindness of God, it is the baptismal love of the Father in Christ, that will lead them to repentance and the Father’s house once more.
  1. Even a tiny faith has the full Christ. One of the most comforting verses in all the Scriptures is Isaiah 42:3, “A bruised reed He will not break; and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.” Our Father is not the kind of God who weeds people out of His kingdom who don’t have faith that is quite up to par. Quite the opposite. Bruised reeds and smoldering wicks are especially beloved of God because of their fragility. He leaves the ninety-nine sheep to scour the hills for a single, lost lamb. Your child is precious to God. And even if a spark of faith remains, that spark holds within it the full fire of the Father’s forgiveness. Bruised reeds belong to God as much as solid oaks. Do not assume that because your children are not attending church that they don’t believe anymore. I was that child once. I was fighting an inward battle with God; I didn’t like His church or, for that matter, many churchgoers. Outwardly, it may have seemed that in me there was nothing but darkness, but on the inside there was at least a smoldering candle of faith. And that faith held the full, forgiving, faithful Christ.
  1. Even if we are faithless, God remains faithful. One of my favorite poems is “The Hound of Heaven” in which the poet describes his inward flight from God. “Down the night and down the days…down the labyrinthine ways,” he fled from his Father. Yet God doggedly pursued him; He showed him through life’s struggles and losses that all the happiness this man pursued was found in Him who gives all things. God is like that. “If we are faithless, He remain faithful—for He cannot deny Himself,” (2 Timothy 2:13). He cannot deny that He is our Father. If you, as an earthly parent, are worried about the spiritual welfare of your children, just think of how much more your heavenly Father is concerned. Your children mean infinitely more to Him than they do to you. Even if they are faithless, He will remain faithful in His loving pursuit of them.
  1. Your Christian Life Makes an Impact. When I stopped going to church, my parents did not. Although I would never have admitted it back then, the sheer fact of their continued fidelity to Christ meant something to me. Never downplay the impact that your example provides to your children, even if they are grown and leading lives of their own now. You are still their mom and dad. And there is within most of us an eye that never completely stops looking to our parents for guidance, for love, for approval, for acceptance. Even in the worst-case scenario, if our children do not believe anymore, let us continue to believe, to pray, to be an example for them. We pray for them, the whole church on earth and in heaven prays for them, and even Christ Himself prays to the Father in the Holy Spirit for them.
  1. Grace and grace alone will sustain and heal both parents and children. God’s grace in Christ is not only for your children; it is for you, too. Those bruises on your soul that no one can see, where you’ve beat yourself up about your children straying from church, Christ’s blood is a healing medicine for them, too. Chances are, even if your actions had nothing to do with your children’s decisions, you still feel like you share part of the blame. The all-encompassing grace of Christ covers all your guilt, real and false. He became our mistakes, our failures, on the cross, so that we become in Him exactly as the Father wants us to be. Your guilt, real or imagined, is no longer yours; it belongs to Jesus. In Him, God declares you a perfect parent, free of sin, free of guilt. Remember, you have a parent, too, a heavenly Father, whose love and concern for you is boundless. You are and will ever remain His child. And your children are and will ever remain His children. Be still and know that He is your Father—the kind of Father who spends all day and all night doing nothing but thinking of, smiling upon, and showering His grace down onto you.

Speaking to Jerusalem, His beloved city, God says, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me,” (Isaiah 49:15-16). The same is true for you and for your children. God will not, and has not, forgotten you. The face of your children is engraved upon the hands of the Father. The nail scars in the hands of Jesus spell out your name, and the names of your sons and daughters. We are all in His hands.

Even if your children stray from church, Jesus Christ will never stray from them. Even now, He seeks them out, calling them by name, for they are His lambs, more precious to Him than anything in heaven or on earth. I pray that love, the love of the Good Shepherd, may be your peace as well as your hope.

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christ alone coverWhat we need in our fragmented world, full of hurting people, is the love of Jesus Christ, who InfantPriestfrontcoverwelcomes home sinners with a grace that knows no bounds. My book Christ Alone: Meditations and Sermons, is packed with reflections that go that extra mile of grace. Again and again, they present the Christ who is crucified and risen for you. Please take a moment to check it out here. You may also be interested in my collections of hymns and poetry entitled, The Infant Priest, which you can purchase here. Both books are also available on Amazon, as is my booklet Why Lutherans Sing What They Sing (also on Kindle). Thank you for your prayers and support!

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43 thoughts on “When Your Children Stray from the Church

  1. In regards to #4, your Christian Life makes an impact – so does your Christian death. It has been my experience that even in families that have been estranged, they gather when someone dies. Talk to your pastor about your funeral, what hymns do you want sung, what verses do you want spoken, what message do you want spoken.

    When my older brother died, the message he wanted proclaimed at his funeral was one directed to his unchurched friends. A message that proclaimed the hope of the resurrection and his desire to gather with them at the feast that never ends. And at least one case that I know of, that message had an impact.

  2. A very comforting word here. Chad. It’s also true that pastors, when they see such persons on Christmas or Easter, scold them for all the times they’ve missed.

  3. Melissa C on said:

    Thank you for these words. My husband (deceased LCMS Pastor) would never agree with me that our ‘fallen away’ kids still received the blessings of Baptism and growing up in a close church attending family. He said they were lost — I said God will not forget them. This post confirms my belief. What a blessing this post and your others are to a struggling world.

  4. I am one of those parents. And 2 of our kids are those kids. Thank you.

  5. Very comforting Pastor Bird, for me presently its in the reverse, my aging parents (70’s baptist, we are Lutheran) pretty much quit going years ago and it has always worried me day and night (literally) as time passes about their state (They are baptized though). My kids are still young.

  6. Georganne Friedrich on said:

    Our job is not over when our kids are grown up. We can and should continue to pray daily and fervently for our children and grandchildren. If you don’t know what to pray, pray the Lord’s prayer for each child every day. Pray that your adult child will experience the fatherhood of God in his/her life. Pray that they will again hallow his name. Pray that God’s kingdom will come and his will will be done in your adult child’s life. Pray that God will give him his daily bread today–what he needs to today. Pray that God will forgive your child and save your child from the bitterness of not forgiving those who have sinned against him. Pray that he/she will not be lead into temptation; that he/she will be delivered from evil, and that in the end he/she will experience the kingdom, the power, and glory of the Lord in heaven with Him and all the saints.
    Our four grown children are all very active in the church, and I make it a point to pray every day for them and for our five, soon to be seven grandchildren. Our children have also have godparents who have prayed every day for them. Never underestimate the power of prayer.

  7. Dick Rockenbach on said:

    having worked with this age group for 15 years- I would disagree in this sense- while the Gift of Baptism is a connecting to the Atonement- in an OJ sense without the SJ Saving Faith it is of no benefit. Where there is no True repentance their is no saving Faith.

    The real root is unbelief/impenitence/dead faith/historical faith that they may be reconverted at a later date is true- there is no guarantee.

    69 When the baptized act against their conscience, allowing sin to rule in them, they grieve the Holy Spirit in them and lose Him [Ephesians 4:30]. They do not need to be p 533 rebaptized. But they must be converted again, as has been said well enough before. 70 This is certainly true: in genuine conversion a change, new emotion, and movement in the intellect, will, and heart must take place. The heart must perceive sin, dread God’s wrath, turn from sin, see and accept the promise of grace in Christ, have good spiritual thoughts, have a Christian purpose and diligence, and fight against the flesh. Where none of these happen or are present, there is no true conversion. Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions. 2005 (P. T. McCain, Ed.) (532–533). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.

    • Matt W on said:

      Agree. Baptism does not save and just because someone was baptized as an infant does NOT mean they are a child of God or will go to Heaven. Only faith by an individual in the saving grace of Jesus to atone for your sins can do that.

  8. Chad, upon reading this, I’m one to attend church only sparingly. But I feel I have a relationship with Christ… I read my bible, listen to sermons on the radio, pray with my children, teach them God’s word, etc. How do we know the children in your piece don’t have close relationships with Christ? To me, church attendance isn’t a measure of your devotion to God. Or am I wrong? What are your thoughts?

    • Levi Willms on said:

      Lynn, you are wrong. As you read your bible it will tell you to remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy. Jesus says if you love me, you will obey my commands. Church attendance isn’t the only measure of your devotion to God but it is a measure. To attend church sparingly is a sin and should be repented of. Jesus told us to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them. He also said teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. A lack of obedience to God and His word is a sign of diminishing faith or the lack thereof. The article is good in some senses, but it perpetuates the belief that Jesus doesn’t demand our obedience. People think the Gospel is that God is cool with you doing whatever you want. That is far from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    • Lynn,

      Religious lawyers and bean counters will always “encourage you” to come to church with the Law. They don’t realize just how futile this is. The Law is always a dead letter, demands but leaves you in your own strength to do what you can never do. To not reach that point is to be precisely living in the flesh no matter how good or bad a thing is otherwise. The flesh the whole man, higher and lower faculties, whose conscience is under the reign of the law always being demanded of but never to be able to. This why the wrath of God, Paul, has to be revealed and looks even “immoral” to the Law itself. To grasp the Law and Gospel division is to understand the Law is the dead letter, empty sign, imitation, ideal, etc… Here Christ is demand.

      The Gospel on the other hand is nothing other than to have the true and present Christ and this means “HIS righteousness” for you. His righteousness is not His doing the Law to garner the favor of the Father, but rather that He as the eternal Son has always had the favor of the Father and cannot even think of doing the Law in order to merit – this is Christ’s true righteousness and that which is imputed to us. Thus, the Gospel is always the Spirit, living, thing signified, etc… Here Christ is gift.

      The opposite of wrath is grace, and the opposite of sin is gift [not virtue!]
      All of scripture can be one or the other, the Division Luther discovered, and not just overt demands or overt gospel. E.g. The purest damning Law is “Christ crucified”. The purest Gospel is “Christ crucified”. The difference, the later is “for you”.

      So why should one go to a true church and what is the meaning behind “Remember the Sabbath…”? Not law or demand, but to come and receive this gift constantly that Christ wants to give you in Word and Sacrament, the absolution from God, in baptism, in the body and blood put in your mouth FOR YOU.

      Thus, the reason to come to church is similar by analogy to why you should come to the Christmas tree at Christmas time, to RECEIVE the gift of Christ and that is Him and is His righteousness which is the only righteousness that survives the judgment (which by the way already happened in your baptism, see GIFT). Thus, remembering the Sabbath Day Luther reminds us in his catechism is to not despise preaching nor the sacraments [the gifts], i.e. look down upon it as if it is nothing and as if it does not do what it says it does [forgives, imparts Christ and His very righteousness] as other denomination do do [truly they despise the sacraments precisely as these gifts, so they redefine them as law demanding].

      The reason to come is the Ethiopian Eunuchs reaction: “Lo, here is water what prevents me from receiving this gift!” To the apostle responds in paraphrase to “get the point”, “Nothing here is water and I have the Word of forgiveness from God on the tip of my tongue.”

      Those who attend the church under the demand of the Law as the reason in fact are not remembering the Sabbath nor keeping it holy for they despise the true Sabbath. For it is precisely rest because the Word given is the absolution of God from God through the vehicles of the preacher and sacraments and Christ’s righteousness SO THAT your conscience can REST. A guilty conscience does anything but rest when it is under the rule of the dead letter/law, and is nothing but pure flesh and sin no matter how finely it obeys or does well.

      As Melanchthon plainly states in the Augsburg confession, “the most comforting doctrine is this, that the highest worship in the Gospel is to receive forgiveness of sins, receive grace and receive eternal life.”
      Come because gifts await you personally, do not come to obey the law. If you come to obey the law in the Word and Sacraments, you are coming for the wrong reason for the wrong thing. You can get that damning religion everywhere else.

      • Jessica on said:

        I sm deeply troubled by your comment, Larry. I pray for all who would sit under such teaching. Obedience is not a bad thing to encourage disciples towards. What a sad, cheap gospel it is that you speak of as you comment on the supposed “religious lawyers and bean counters.” Lynn, I pray today that you would ignore the call from the devil and the world to avoid worhip and the Lord’s Supper. God be with you! 🙂

      • Cheap gospel is always the cry of the lawyer, its not cheap its free, and its not cheap Christ already paid it all with His holy precious blood. To call the Gospel cheap is an offense to Christ and His shed blood who already purchased it. It is because you hear only “law” in obedience and not the gospel. There is no obedience to fulfill in Christ, he has done it all. So that there is nothing left to do. Come only to receive the gifts of Christ for you. The call of the devil is in fact to so called “obedience”. This is why Luther said that you have to realize that when the law says “do”, you are already a condemned sinner without even doing and doing just doubles down. He said the law says do and nothing is ever done, the Gospel says believe and all is already done. The lawyer and bean counter religionists NEVER understand that.

        Lynn it’s all gift, Christ. Come to receive the gifts, the very and true body and blood of Christ given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. See its all gift language, as Melanchthon points out in our confessions. As Dr. Norman Nagel points out there’s a world of difference in that “obedience” that is wrought of the law, and in the end damns, and the obedience that is wrought in the Gospel that says, “come receive the gifts”.

        Lynn come and recieve your gifts from Christ for you, no “do”, your gifts await you.

      • Jessica on said:

        Larry, I guess that part of the great commission that tells us to “make disciples” and to “teach them to obey” is nonsense? Missing from your book of Matthew? Please, I would sincerely ask you to consider if your message is what people really need. We have a million voices telling us that we are fine. We need ones telling us that we are not fine apart from Christ. Why would you belittle those who, because of their love for those who don’t come to church, are calling them to sin no more and come. Shaking my head, Larry…

      • Levi Willms on said:

        Did I somehow say that obedience in any way makes us righteous? Do you typically have conversations in your head about what people said, independent of what they actually said. Try the Gospel lesson for this Sunday from Mark 1:14-15, “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is here. Repent and believe the good news!” Is Jesus a bean counter. No he says stop trusting in that your actions and ways of living are okay. Believe in me. Believe that God is coming to save. Leave aside your self-justifying ways of thinking you are good enough. REPENT and trust in Jesus alone. Right after that Jesus calls people to follow him. Does Simon and Andrew save themselves because they followed Him? Of course not, they are saved by trusting in Jesus. But they followed. That is what Faith does, it follows, it obeys. So lets stop encouraging people ot disobey. If you love Jesus, follow, what else would you want to do?

      • Jessica on said:

        Exactly, Levi! Larry, please take his words to heart!

      • Levi Willms on said:

        Larry, maybe when I say obey you hear conform. I don’t know. Not sure why this is so hard for people. What is so hard about obedience. Jesus tells us it is our demonstration of love for Him. Of course just conforming to laws and thinking it might justify you is of no avial. Only Christ Justifies, so by the faith God gives me the Holy Spirit works to bring about obedience to Christ. I can’t wait until the fullness comes and my disobedience is done away with forever. I hate my sinful flesh that wants me to miss church, not pray, trust in things other than Christ. I am so thankful when the Word of God reminds me of my failures and of Christ who never failed on my behalf. He is the only thing that new man in me wants to follow and obey. In my baptism I daily remember that Old man must die and the new man live. Why are we scared to tell people they should deny reject the attitudes of the Old man and live in the New Man that walks in obedience. That is Freedom. I’m not talking about conforming or living by the law. In view of the Gospel walk in the freedom of obedience. Larry, what do you do with James 1:25. Do you just say it is wrong. Law/Gospel reductionism has wrecked havoc on all of us. The Law isn’t evil. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. In Jesus we don’t have to hate the law. I’m thankful that it crushes me and points me to Christ. I’m thankful when God pushes me to repentance. It is good!!!! Then I trust in Christ and walk in his grace and freedom of obedience. Stop thinking the Law is bad. It just doesn’t save you. Jesus does. The Gospel saves you, but that doesn’t make the law bad. It was never intended as a means of salvation. Its purpuse is to show us God’s will, where we fail, and how Christ doesn’t fail. Stop hating the Law, Jesus doesn’t, He says REPENT and trust in the Good News!

      • Levi, you can stop your lying false accusations. no one said the lw was evil thats a dreamy srawman of your mind. that christ alone, not us fulfills the law means it is holy and good. and i dont think you understand one bit the law and gospel distinction, not in the least. especially when you evoke luther and deny conformity which luther said is part and parcel with the gospel. in fact luther puts it precisely in opposition to imitating christ which is really fleeing from christ and the very opposite since christ builds nothing up for himself. you are correct about one thing, we speak of two seperate gospels and ANY observer can see the clear difference.

      • Levi Willms on said:

        Also, Larry, I agree we should encourage people to come to Church with the law. I don’t think I said that. I to to church because of the Gospel. The original post was just dealing with the fact that she was rewriting the Law. Saying that there is no problem with not attending worship. That is contrary to the word of God and to the teachings of Christ. I don’t think the Law will draw people in, but we do no service to the world by rewriting God’s Law. Actually we just end up changing the Gospel as well. Rather than we all fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by His grace. We make it that all make it, because the law really isn’t that hard. There is really no measure at all right. Try our question 4 of Luther’s questions and answers in the small catechism. Can we really cling to the Gospel when we don’t answer that question rightly? It is interesting how most people can confess, “we are all sinful,” but there is never any place to actually call one a sin. The only real sin nowadays is to call a sin a sin. One of the great joys of the gospel is that we are free to confess real sin to God and know His forgiveness in Christ Jesus and recieve His help to live by His grace somewhat differently now, and completely differently for all eternity when my sinful flesh is finally destroyed.

      • Levi (and Larry), thank you both for your comments. As I remarked last night (perhaps you didn’t see it), I think this discussion has progressed enough to where you both have expressed your points of view. Time to move on. Thank you. And peace to you both in Christ.

      • Pastor Bird,

        I did see it last night (and concurred and fully respected it). I have not commented a single time since, nor even thought about it until I just happened to see my email notification. I moved on as of around 1100 hours EDT last night, woke up played in the snow with my kids. No harm no foul here.

      • Thanks, Larry. Blessings to you and your family. I appreciated all your comments.

    • lynn, the bottom line is as our pastor says, the church is the place within whose four walls is chalked full of the forgiveness of sins and Christs righteousness for you. For real sinners not pretend sinners. The word and sacraments are given for our assurance. Christ died for you even if you dont get”better”. obey in the gospel means come eat and drink with no money, . the reality is as pastor pointed out once to our congregation, “I have to protect you most from your righteousness, the clean side of the broad road that leads to hell is far more populated.

  9. Part of what is lost in this, those that don’t go to church, is ‘are they really rejecting Christ and hence their baptism?’, or are they really (even if they intellectually cannot put 2 and 2 together rejecting what is in fact a false Christ. We all know the false Christ, the one called “imitate Christ” among other names, which is the very opposite of Christ since Christ builds nothing up for Himself.

    If for example a baptized baptist leaves his church because in spite of his baptism he can no longer live up to the ‘law “christ”‘ his doctrine and church most certainly preach Sunday to Sunday (I know this is in fact the case first hand and doctrinally 10x over), and he leaves such a heterodoxy, which holds up to him an not present other christ, yet he holds onto “I am baptized” none the less, then he is no different than a Lutheran who cannot attend such a heterodoxy (of which Pieper speaks) if providentially there is no true confession nearby that actually preaches, teaches and confesses what is true. If a Lutheran lived in an area where he cannot receive the Word and Sacrament as instituted, and only Baptist and other confessions existed, he cannot attend that either. And such would be viewed as one who “does not attend church”. Yet said Lutheran would be clinging to his baptism, yes, even as he is a real sinner. On lookers would only see a man who is a sinner and does not attend church for all they know. They would be wrong. This attestment of the power baptism even when a Word and Sacrament church does not exist in reach. Pieper says, such a situation must be endured as the cross that it is. This is the case with many from other confessions for certain, however, intellectually they don’t put 2 and 2 together nor can they for all they know is the false doctrine they’ve been taught and they’ve been baptized. As Luther well said at times God sustained his church mainly only through baptized infants, so astray its external witness has gone.

    Having traversed 2 confessions, baptist, reformed and now Lutheran and developed a very sensative nose to hidden “work your way to heave but we just won’t say it that way lest we be found out” – Lutherans of which I am now, are simply bonkers if they think that just because the label on the door says, “LCMS, WELS, etc…” that deadly heterodoxy is not in the mix. I am LCMS and we attend every Sunday to receive the gifts of Christ, Lord knows I need them, but there are in fact certain LCMS churches I would recommend no more than Benny Hinn.

    • Levi Willms on said:

      I’ve heard it all. Hilarious. I guess all these people don’t go to church because they can’t find one that preaches Christ. They have looked and looked and tried so hard and just can’t find one. They have no choice but not worship. You may be right about a handful, but you are so far from reality. I so wish Luther was here to laugh you off this blog. You got some truth in ya about where salvation comes from, Christ alone, I’m thankful for that, just to bad you can’t see sin for being sin and call it sin so that we can stop rejoicing in it and rejoice in Christ who saves us from it.

      • You are quite ignorant of the average lay person in these false churches, who do not have a lutheran blood line and in fact know nothing other than what their baptist doctrine taught them. the paucity of luthers teachings is wide spread. so widespread that even in a seminary as notable as southern no luther an writings existed in thier library, plenty on rome and calvin. and i know this first hand from a close brother of mine who over saw southerns library, hes a lutheran pastor now.

        i know many who leave the church for this very. the fine print in most churches is that jesus died for you is thier loss leader. to sucker them in to de facto heathen religion were works really is salvation. and i wish luther were here too because that is precisely what he saw and why he said often there was little difference in the papacy, the turk and proto what we call the ptotestants. he said all were enthusiast and enthusiasm is original sin.

      • Levi and Larry, thank you both for your comments. I think enough has been said from both positions and all the necessary points have been made. Let’s let the discussion end here. Peace to you all.

  10. Thank you so much – this is just what I needed to hear today.

  11. Thank you for these words. I always wonder why we don’t pray more faithfully in church for the lost. I also get frustrated when my pastors give super-short sermons on Christmas and Easter. It’s the only time I get one of my kids to church, and I wish pastors would preach for the Christmas/Easter attenders!

  12. Mr. Bird, your work here is appreciated—God bless you.

  13. Along with the example given in the post itself, I’ve also known sad cases of parents that have given up on bringing their kids to church every Sunday or talking about God as soon as the teenage years roll through. Sometimes, they reason that as long as they did their job in getting the child through Baptism and confirmation, that’s all that really matters… they’ll come back to the church when they’re older and have kids… “does church attendance really mean all that much, after all?”… This attitude is dangerous and increasingly prevalent in our modern age, and calls for clear pastoral care and the right application of the Law as well as the Gospel.

  14. Char Gallion on said:

    I was THAT child. The pastor who baptized me at 3 weeks old, told me in a very loving way, with a large smile. “You can leave the Holy Spirit, but it never leaves you! Welcome Home!” I had a rough time between the ages of 17-26.

  15. Thanks for bringing up this subject. Also for addressing parents (grandparents etc.) feelings and emotions. What a hard subject for everyone to speak about. My father and I started a ministry outreach to parents of prodigals called Faith Family Reunion – we have a website http://www.faithfamilyreunion.com with resources for parents. If you would ever like to post anything on this site please let us know….you are such an encouragement. Could we post your references to your books on the site as well? Many parents will be encouraged by your information. Thank you once again!

  16. Wow, thank you so much for this. I recently posted an article on my blog about how parents can encourage their children in their Christian walk, but I didn’t get into when a child strays in adulthood–I wasn’t sure how to cover it, to be honest. I’m so glad there are blessings like you covering this issue.

  17. It might be because they read enough of the Bible to realize that their god is a psychopath which turns a blind eye to child slaughter (Gen 9:24, Ex 12:29, Deu 21:21, Matthew 18:6, Lamentations 4:4 and 2:20, Ezekiel 5:10, Num 31:15-18, and MANY others) and made the conscious decision to walk away.

  18. I wrote a letter at Christmas to my prodigal children, unchurched sons-in-law and grandchildren each individually expressing my concern about their eternal life and their lack of attending church and passing on that faith they were taught as children to their children. Hopefully, thy will be jolted by my message.

  19. Reblogged this on In the Wake of Suicide….trying to understand and commented:
    As a parent, I have struggled much the same as this couple. All three of my adult children have tried to assert their independence by not attending church as they did when they lived at home. I am thankful for these words that remind me of God’s amazing grace and how He is faithful to us…as we have all been “that one sheep” at one time or other.

    I will reblog this with much gratitude.

  20. Pingback: Words of Comfort | Living Apologetics

  21. There is an old Puritan saying: “Parents are responsible to their children, not for their children.” Your article is very good at relying solely on the grace and preservation of our good and Holy God. The formula of concord has a statement that goes something like this, “All of our planting and watering will only be effective if the Holy Spirit is at work on the will.” An excellent booklet written in the 1600’s titled “PARENT’S CONCERNS FOR THEIR UNSAVED CHILDREN” is very valuable for parents dealing with the pain of straying children. http://www.amazon.com/Parents-Concerns-Unsaved-Children-Family/dp/1573581518

  22. There has been much recent discussion in the Christian culture about the loss of so many of our young people. The main and most rational reasons are 1) The Bible is taught as “stories” and not as historical events 2) Families are not worshipping and studying together as a unit at church. Youngsters are age segregated and hence the whole idea of concordia is lost. 3) Families do not study and worship together at home every day. Habits are hard to break. Families that have meaningful worship consisting of Bible study, singing, and prayer build an endearing “tradition” in the mind of the child that he will wish to continue. 4) It is not hard to understand why a child who is put in a government institution (public school) where Christ is not acknowledged as LORD strayed from the faith. Twelve years of 8 hour a day indoctrination in humanist secularism will have its effect on the strongest of minds. There are some denominations that are beginning to take a very strong stance on Christian Education, whether home education or Church run schools. I applaud the movement

    • I would even expand on number one. Region Printer in his definitive book on Spiritus Creator points out that even the historical Jesus boils down to nothing but a law Jesus demanding imitation, as a bald historical Jesus does not bring the gospel, the donum or gift. Even the demons believe, more so even in the historical Jesus. This leaves man nothing more than history to imitate its demand. Rather the spirit in particular brings the gift or donum as Luther well put it. The gift is no less than the real presence of the Christ, not Christ the ideal but Jesus Christ. And this gift, this donum, this really truly present Christ IS Christ and his alien righteousness to and for you. This alien righteousness of Christ’s is the fact that from eternity he has always had the favor the Father and cannot even conceive of “doing the LA”, which he is able to do, to ‘merit’ the favor of the Father. In this way he fulfills the law for us not by meeting its demand but overcoming it, for the law can only be fulfilled by the utter and absolute free will, sponte.

      Thus the opposite of grace is wrath, and the opposite of sin is gift, not virtue or law.

      The issue today is not a lack of the historical Jesus, though that is involved, but rather that it is hardly believed and some confessions outright deny it that the incarnate son of god is present.

      Luther warned of this right at the close of Marburg. That once the denial of the true body and blood of Christ began to gain footing that it would raze the entire countryside and at length nothing would be believed, and here we are today not surprisingly.

      Do people really believe when they go to church that the real body and blood of god is who they are meeting? That all of history is really focused on that very place Sunday where the preacher is absolving you and it is God doing it. That history happening is really not what’s going on in the world in some secular historical view.

      Does everything revolve around Christ or is he squeezed in between soccer and upperward bound basketball? Are Lutheran theologians willing to call to repentance all these that deny the sacraments or do we just join in the chorus that just calls the rough looking sinner down at the bar to “repent”. The fact of the matter is kids and teens will detect the parents real religion even when the parents pretend when asked the right answer. They sense with deadly acuity when the top three immoral sins is really ones religion rather than those who deny baptism saves and the gospel is fed you Sundays.

      One thing I’ve learned over the decades is that children and teens truly sense what their parents believe and is important.

  23. As one of those long gone offspring it is nice to hear the gentle and mild remarks of the author. While I do not find divine truth in the Bible, it is refreshing to hear the calls for dialogue and contemplative discussion in the interactions between those who believe and those who do not. Too often we hear the calls to drown out the views of those who oppose that we believe, and any voice to bring us to the moderate is a welcome voice, in my opinion.

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