Childrearing is Soulwinning . . . Or Not

Posted By on October 7, 2010

Modern-day Christian parents can’t figure out why their children are turning away from God in droves and rejecting the faith they were raised with, and it’s not uncommon to hear older couples in churches speak with regret about their children “who aren’t following the Lord.” Bewilderment and confusion surrounds their thinking as they try to grasp how their children could have walked away when they had tried so hard to “raise them right.”

It’s undeniable at this point that Christianity is losing its youth. Although many fall away from faith during high school, the college-aged population is where Christianity is being hit the hardest.

When Christian couples set out to raise a family today, they are well aware of these statistics, but they begin their journey with the best of intentions of raising their one to two children up as godly Christians, hopeful that their children will be an exception. They may even consciously intend on making choices that they believe will help their children remain faithful and moral–taking them to church, restricting what movies they can see, and heavily monitoring and overseeing their interaction with other “worldly” children. Every Sunday morning, they faithfully bring their child to Sunday school, and every Wednesday night, their child is in attendance at Awanas or the other church children’s program. For years, they are involved in every possible church activity, but as the child grows older, the parents wonder why their child isn’t making the faith his own or doing things of his own initiative. By the end of high school or college, the parent is tired of the battles. They don’t want to fight and drag their children to the youth group; they are tired of arguing about modest clothing choices, CDs, movies, boyfriends, and everything else. They look around at the other children in the church and shrug their shoulders. It’s just hard to raise kids in this culture, and they did their best. Apparently, they were just given a child that would not be a Christian. They are saddened and downcast, thinking that they were helpless victims and couldn’t have done anything better.

So said the older mother across from me, a year ago, as we sat in the church nursery rocking babies. She told me her story: how her son had walked away from the Lord, was living with his girlfriend, and was about to have a baby. She talked about how she had always brought him to church and youth group, but she ended with a shrug of her shoulders, saying, “But we tried to raise him right, he just wouldn’t listen. I don’t know what else we could have done.”

I continued to rock the baby asleep in my arms, as she went on, “But your parents, they’re so lucky to have children like you two. Such good examples, ministering and going to a Bible college. Your parents must be so happy!”

I smiled and replied something along the lines of, “Yes, my parents did an excellent job of raising us. The tireless effort my mom put into homeschooling us has really shaped us into who we are today.”

The mother’s tone changed slightly and she replied, “I don’t know how she did it! I would have killed my two kids, I tell you that! Your mother was so lucky to have such good, patient, and quiet kids.”

She continued, “You don’t intend on doing that with your children, do you?”

“Absolutely.” I replied.  “It is one of the things I look forward to the most!”

At this, shock and slight repulsion started to show on her face, and she went on to try to convince me why I should work and put my children into public school. Although I tried to present my reasoning, she was incapable of understanding where I was coming from, and she ended our conversation by saying, “Well, you’re young. You might change your mind once you have kids and have to put up with it every day!”

When I walked away from the nursery that day, my mind was just completely boggled by this interaction. Though this woman had admired the results of the training we had received at home from our parents, she failed to see the role that it played in shaping children into mature and God-loving individuals. You see, she  may have thought my parents were “lucky,” as in “You must have hit the lottery jackpot and gotten two great kids!” but the truth of the matter was that my parents had put in tireless effort into shaping us into who we were. They were not “lucky,” they were obedient to God’s call to train up your child in the way they should go.

My parents did not simply take us to church and hope that Sunday school and sermons would bring us to the Father. They read us the Word, had nightly devotions, prayed and conversed with us about all of life from a Biblical viewpoint. They also led by example, and showed us what it meant to minister, love, forgive, and put God before all else.

Christian parents who trust in church ministry programs will be disappointed. There is only so much that a church can do for a child, and in the end, it was never the church who had responsibility for the child in the first place. God’s Word calls parents to train up their children, and God gives the responsibility for shaping the child’s worldview squarely into a parent’s hands.

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” ~Deuteronomy 6:6-9

Notice that this verse speaks of the home having an atmosphere of godly instruction. It is all good and well to have Scripture training at church, but if the home is not the foundation of the child’s Scripture learning, results are doubtful, and the parent is not fulfilling his God-given responsibility.

In a culture where getting a “Christian” child out of the child-rearing experience appears to be “hit or miss,” it is understandable why people react even more harshly to me when I say anything about wanting a big family. To them, this is merely my way of trying to be more spiritual or a “supermom,” while increasing the chance that I will bring up children who walk away from the Lord.

But, let me tell you, I am not setting my mind on this because I think there is anything about having babies that is holy or righteous in and of itself, or because I hope to one day be viewed as “supermom.” Having children for the wrong reasons can be done with any family size in mind. Even Christian parents who have two kids because it’s “the next life step” can be wrongly going about the idea of child-rearing.

Any parent who brings a child into this world ought to do so with fear and trembling and prayer and supplication before the Lord, because a new soul–one that will live eternally–has irrevocably been created, and that soul will end up one of two places. If Christian parents truly believe what they claim to about eternity and Heaven and Hell, than I urge them to think more carefully about what choices they will make in raising their children.

It may not mean homeschooling–though I think public schooling your child will only increase those exhausting battles, and is comparable to swimming upstream–but it most certainly will mean providing a foundation of truth and Gospel learning at home, and not merely Sunday school or church camps.

May God help us to bring up godly children who will glorify Him with their lives, whether we are parents now or will be in the future!
This article orignally appeared on Tiffany’s blog, True Femininity

About The Author

Tiffany is the oldest of two children, a 2007 homeschool graduate, and now a twenty-two-year-old college graduate. She majored in English literature and has a passion for reading, writing, and discovering God's plan for beautiful womanhood. For over a year she has been blogging at True Femininity, which chronicles all the little things in her life as she journeys towards true femininity, such as her favorite interests: homemaking, cooking, fashion, frugal living, homeschooling, and theology.


6 Responses to “Childrearing is Soulwinning . . . Or Not”

  1. Blessed1 says:

    What an awesome post!! This subject has been hitting me from all sides. My husband and I have decided to always have our little one in church with us so she can see us worship and praise God. No nursery or Sunday school for her. She will be right next to us. 🙂

  2. jana_alanda says:

    Good post. It’s so important as parents to be the “primary” instructors in our child’s religious upbringing and not give it to someone else. Parents are the center of a child’s world and have the most authority. They watch you and mimic you. One thing I would add is to educate the child in the beliefs of the world and why it is right or wrong. My parents impressed on us that we needed to be leaders and not followers. We needed to know what the world thought so that we could combat those terrible ideas with good logic.

    Thanks for the great article.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    This is so well-written. I come across this attitude all the time and I find it supremely frustrating. We are thankful that our young adults (I really don’t like and don’t use the term teenager) are in love with Jesus and are also enjoyable people to be around. I have had similar conversations with people, but often with parents of younger children, who say to me, “I love your children. I would like for mine to turn out the same way. What have you done.” But the minute I begin to answer what we have done: homeschooled, discipled our children, no TV, family dinners every night even if it means not participating in sports… they begin to tune out. It is too hard to be different, I guess. Essentially the tacit message I receive in return is that it is fine for us to do these things, we are already considered a bit odd. But ‘normal’ people just don’t choose to do these things.

    I walk away sad every time I have one of these conversations.

  4. rejoicealways says:

    Excellent post. This post really hits home to me. Our church never had Sunday school but we attended a Christian school. Looking back I can see my parents ‘relied’ a bit too much on us attending church & Christian school to get our Christian education. We did ALWAYS have family dinner time and we always read from the Bible and prayed. They meant very well and I love them. (I have a sibling who has strayed completely but at the same time I could get into the debate maybe he wasn’t chosen? We will leave that up to God though!). Anyway that being said, myself and my husband are now raising 3 wonderful kids and prayerfully we are deciding to do things somewhat differently. Have definitely contemplated homeschooling but we also agree sending them to a Christian school + having more of a Christian home-base…more time spent on questions in devotions etc., more dialogue about issues of the day as well as questions about why we do things the way we do them in church. Due to VERY sickly pregnancies for months, I think it would be best to send the kids to school — otherwise I think homeschooling is so ideal! So I am thankful there are Christian schools because there is no way I’d be sending them to public.
    Just thanks for this post. It’s been something on my mind lately. I have to remember to be humble and not judge my parents for this.
    I just realized I found this article from October 😉

  5. Amber says:

    This is so true! And it’s so funny to me how foreign this is to the bulk of Christians!
    I also want to repost Elizabeth because this is right on!
    “I love your children. I would like for mine to turn out the same way. What have you done.” But the minute I begin to answer what we have done: homeschooled, discipled our children, no TV, family dinners every night even if it means not participating in sports… they begin to tune out.

  6. donnamartin says:

    I can so see your point! I raised two boys as a single mother while going to school myself. My oldest son is the biggest prodigal I never expected him to be. I pray for him every single day while he drinks, smokes and parties. He works and is a wonderful person, but definetley not walking with GOD. I remarried and I’m the mother of a 10 year old daughter, and immerse her with prayer, faith, church and am doing all I can to get her into private Christian school. I know it’s not the answer, but schooling her at home is not an option for us. But – I know that as long as her home, school and activities are heading in the same direction I know there is greater hope.

    I feel bad that I feel as though I short changed my boys because I wasnt the mother/parent I could have been and certainly not the same one I am today! But GOD’s in control and a mother’s prayers avail more than we realize….. so there’s my hope.

    Thank you for this article – I think you are right on!

    GOD Bless!
    Donna Martin

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