The church is losing 5th graders. At a recent D6 Conference, Dannah Gresh said, “The theology they have as tweens is not thick enough to prepare them for the spiritual conversations that are going to happen in college.” This is backed up by Barna research, which reports that only 32% of tweens today have a relationship with Jesus Christ. When you consider Barna’s assertion that faith habits are fully formed by the 14th year, this low percentage of belief is alarming.
What you believe by your 14th birthday is generally what you die believing. George Barna
Especially for a mother of a 5th grader. That’s me.
I invited my daughter to write the first guest post for Mrs. Disciple. I asked her what parents and the church could do to improve the passing on of the faith to her generation. She had a few ideas to share.
Making Faith Real for Middle Schoolers
by Claire Smith, age 11
Give the real story with more detail because we can handle it.
When I saw a clip from Passion of the Christ, it changed my understanding of the crucifixion. I am not suggesting you show that to your kids; it is a little intense. We have grown up knowing Bible facts, but it doesn’t become a big deal until you understand the whole story and all of the details that speak to you.
Help us find ways to live out our faith.
Sometimes I feel being young prevents us from doing big things for God. Even though the Bible says don’t let being small keep you from doing big things, sometimes I feel like being small does keep me from doing big things. For example, feeding the homeless is a way to live out your faith. I think there are so many bad things going on in the world. I want to be part of a big change.
Find ways for our church friends to interact.
Our small group leader gave us small notebooks called prayer notebooks before we left one night. We passed them around the circle of people and each wrote a prayer request in it. I really liked that because it made me feel connected and helped me mix my faith into my social life. It was something I could do to help make a difference. A small difference in the world but a big difference for that person if I helped their prayer get answered.
What Claire and tweenagers everywhere are searching for is a genuine mix of orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Orthodoxy is what we believe. It is our theology, our doctrine. Orthopraxy is the doing side of our belief. It is the practical application of truth.
2 Timothy 3:10-17 is my new creed for Claire’s generation. Paul, speaking to his protegee’, Timothy, says, “Keep following my teaching. People will try to lead you astray. They will disguise the truth and make it look easier than following God’s way. But keep following the things you have been taught from childhood. Study it and have confidence that God’s word is true” (my paraphrase).
While most kids in the 8-to-12 age range are involved in a church, relatively few of them consider church experiences to be valuable. Parents must take the lead in establishing the centrality of faith experiences and practices for their children. George Barna
The church only has 1 hour a week with our kids; it’s not enough to mold their hearts. Parents, we must engage our children in biblical discussion and model biblical behavior if we expect them to espouse the truth found in scripture. It is so important to teach them The Standard–the truth that comes from the Bible. In order to teach them the Bible, we, ourselves, must know the Bible.
What can you do today to engage your child in the learning or doing of the Gospel? Are you giving your own faith journey the attention it deserves?
I recommend The Action Bible because it gives us a way to have a better visual of the Bible. I love it. It’s very kid friendly and helps make reading the Bible less of a distant world, and more like the best history lesson EVER! (Claire Smith)
“I could take you back to the very place where I lost my faith in God. I was 14 years old. I was sitting in the second row from the windows, third chair from the front, when I first learned about Darwin’s theory of evoluction.” (Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ: Student Edition)
Also available: Case for Christ for Kids
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