Parenting is no easy task and the Bible gives no guarantees of the outcome. Prov. 22:6 is a proverb, not a promise. Experientially, all of us know many that have not gone on for the Lord. There is no easy answer to this reality, most of us know of families where one or more children have gone on well and others have walked away with no evidence of faith. Children make moral choices and each individual is personally responsible before the Lord. Some children from the best of homes have abandoned faith while some from the worst of homes are sound in their profession of faith.
A growing reality is that some who go on in the Lord choose a different style of local church. It is not always easy to surmise why this is so; there are likely many reasons depending on the individuals involved. None of us is perfect but some parents make the following mistakes that may contribute to these two situations.
I have been in homes and in other situations where parents openly criticize other believers. Sometimes the elders are the object of their critical words. Children constantly exposed to this are unlikely to be attracted to your assembly or perhaps to any assembly. It is not likely to leave a good impression on young minds. This type of conversation undermines what parents want for their children in terms of faith and fellowship.
Some believers are contentious by nature, they just seem to find something to fight or complain about. It may not be every month, but over time any numbers of issues raise their ire. I know of meetings where the atmosphere is toxic and all joy is gone. In these situations, others may be drawn into the conflicts and the youth may be so affected that these events are imprinted in their minds forever. Undoubtedly, issues will arise with differences of opinion, but in these situations, we need to individually apply Ephesians 4:2-3. A humble attitude and the desire to maintain the unity of the Spirit will go a long way. I know of a number of young people, who exposed to such contention have abandoned their own fellowship, gravitating instead to other local churches. Although not always the reason in such cases, it can be a contributing factor.
A lack of commitment is plaguing many NT assemblies. Of all the institutions on earth, the Lord places the greatest value on the local church. It would seem obvious, that if it is precious to Him, then it should be precious to us. Sadly, many believers in North America do not share this view. In our culture, many choose other activities at the expense of the local church. It may be leisure, the pursuit of things, or just that the assembly is not the highest priority. Their children may participate in sports, dance, or other activities that interfere with meeting times. If these situations persist, it becomes difficult to convince children that their fellowship is to be a priority in their lives.
Closely related to the lack of commitment is a lack of consistency. All of us have lapses in our lives when we are not all that we should be. Some believers have large gaps or serious periods of inconsistency. Our children will see through the facade, when we say one thing but our behavior says something else. The Lord calls for perseverance and faithfulness in our lives and this type of consistency will speak to our children. Certainly, this should apply to our “church life” so that our children see that the local assembly is important to us. As well, consistency in our own devotional lives, and the priority of the Word and prayer in our homes shows what we value.
This is not an exhaustive list but from my experience, the above can take their toll. Even in homes where none of these happens, we know of children who have abandoned the faith and/or their local fellowship for a number of reasons. In parenting, some things are outside of our control but this list has activities we can control. It comes down to priorities, passion, and perseverance on our part.