Part 1 of the Worldview Series

Rooted and Built Up

“More than half of all Christian teens and twentysomethings leave active involvement in church,” according to David Kinnaman, author of You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church . . . and Rethinking Faith. It’s a devastating statistic, but we can be encouraged that God is not surprised by the challenges our young people will face as they enter the world. And He has not left us without instruction. 

It’s graduation season. It’s time to send the next generation into college, the workforce, the military, or wherever the Lord takes them. We celebrate with commencement ceremonies at the end of high school or college careers, but commencement isn’t an ending. It’s really a beginning. We aren’t just celebrating their accomplishments but sending them into something. 

Are the families in your church ready to launch and let go? Have those young people been equipped to go into the world holding on to a hope in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and sharing it with others? 

In Paul’s words to the “saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae,” he wrote,  

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:6-8) 

I see teaching on two crucial points here and in many of his letters to New Testament believers. 

  1. Paul unabashedly wanted them to know their faith should be in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and him alone. His death, burial, and resurrection is The Way. 
  1. He warned them of the dangers in the culture around them they would need to be aware of and on guard against. False teachers, idols, and cultural norms could easily lead them astray. They could fall into old rituals they once held dear. They could be tantalized by sin. They could be drawn into believing other gods were just as worthy or equal to Jesus. 

As our young people go out on their next assignment, we must follow Paul’s example in our homes and churches. They are our first neighbors and our first disciples.  

As They Have Received… 

Like those believers at Colossae, can we say to our young people, “As you received Christ Jesus”? They must first hear and believe the Gospel. Only with the foundation of faith in Christ can they walk in him, be rooted and built up in him, and be established in the faith. Prayerfully, we have done this as we have poured into them from primary school through high school and beyond. 

According to Christ… 

Now, as they go, it’s time to exhort them to cling to their only hope in Jesus Christ and to guard against anything or anyone that could draw them away from that hope. 

When they get to college, their professors will pour into them their ideas on Theology, Philosophy, Ethics, Biology, Psychology, Sociology, Law, Politics, Economics, and History. Are they equipped to filter their views through the lens of the Word? We want them to “see to it no one takes [them] captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition.” 

When they are out on their own, we want them to know how to find a good church to attend, what it looks like to love God and others, discern truth, do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. They are facing and will continue to face challenging issues, and they need thoughtful, loving, and, most importantly, biblically truthful responses.  

This summer, after commencement but before they commence, take as much time as you can to engage in conversations on challenging topics with your family. Ask them questions about what tough or confusing issues they are facing. Choose a resource or two on those topics and go through them together. Don’t be afraid of their questions. You don’t have to have all the answers; you are modeling what it looks like to seek the Word with them.  

Equip the families in your churches with resources on these topics. A good study Bible would make a great gift for grads this season. We’ll share some of our favorite resources with you this summer, so you can keep a lookout for them and share them with your church. We are God’s fellow workers (1 Cor. 3:9). Let’s lay this foundation with them and watch as they grow in God. Let’s show them how loving God and knowing him changes every aspect of our lives. 

Read Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of the Worldview Series.

Resources for Grads (and Everyone) 

Scripture is our primary source. Other suggestions that can help us effectively apply Scripture include: 

A classic that every young person who follows Christ should read. It’s referenced so often that you’ll want to know what everyone’s talking about.   

Another classic. I give this one away frequently to folks asking questions about Christ and faith with the encouragement to simply read the chapter titled Liar, Lunatic, or Lord and then reconnect to talk. (You can buy these in bulk for all grads.) 

Help arm your teens and young adults with well-reasoned responses to the accusations most likely to appear in their lives.  

  • Ethix by Sean McDowell 

Helps young adults combat moral relativism and better understand how to make Bible-informed ethical decisions on current issues.  

More on Why Kids Leave the Church 

Young Christians are leaving the church – Here’s why | Fox News 

5 Crucial Reasons Kids Leave Church When They Grow Up | ChurchPlants.com 

Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church | Barna Group 

Why Do So Many Kids Leave the Church? | FamilyLife® 

Why Do So Many Kids Leave The Church? | Cru 

Why Youth Leave the Church: 10 Surprising Reasons | ChurchLeaders.com 

Mike Young
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