Stop the Bleeding!

I just finished reading the book Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church and What You Can Do To Stop It by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer. The book is based on research done to determine why 61% of twenty-somethings who grew up in the church are now “spiritually disengaged,” meaning they are no longer actively attending church, reading their Bibles, or praying.

The research that Ken Ham and Britt Beemer conducted involved surveying 1,000 twenty-somethings. These young adults had all attended evangelical churches regularly throughout their elementary and teen years, but are now spiritually disengaged.

What these surveys showed was that many of these individuals had begun having doubts in middle school. Their doubts were never adequately addressed. Ken Ham and Britt Beemer conclude that families and churches are failing to teach children and teens basic apologetics. This lack of solid Biblical grounding and the lack of addressing the doubts youth are facing has led to this hemorrhage of young people from the faith.

Some of the doubts that these young people faced included:

  • How do you know the Bible is true?
  • Hasn’t science disproved the Bible?
  • Isn’t the world millions of years old?
  • How come there are so many different “races” of people if everyone came from the same two people?
  • Dinosaurs don’t fit with the Bible; how do you explain them?
  • Why is there death and suffering if God is a good God?
  • Why is Jesus the “only way?”

Could it be that not just families and churches are failing the youth of Christian families? Might the Christian publishing industry also be failing these youth?

If you publish books for Christian youth (elementary children and teenagers), I encourage you to consider this information carefully. Then ask yourself: Do the books I publish make kids feel good, or do they help them understand the Christian faith in a meaningful way?

 

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6 thoughts on “Stop the Bleeding!

  1. We have found that we can no longer assume that the kids know anything about Jesus—even if they go to church regularly. The parents commonly had a spiritual experience in their youth, but nothing real since then. They are often barely believers, so they have no idea how to teach their children.

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  2. You make some very interesting and, I think, valid points. Being fairly well acquainted with Christian publishing, I have observed what I think is a very disturbing trend: Somewhere along the line, it got to be more about money than message.

    In a sense it’s hard to blame them because if they don’t publish books they can sell, pretty soon they won’t be publishing books at all. So maybe it’s a sign of the times as Paul said in 2 Tim 4:3, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine…” (NASB)

    However, I suspect the problem runs much deeper. Many sincere parents encourage their children to “accept Jesus into their hearts” at a very young age. Then, because of our belief in the true doctrine of eternal security (or whatever your tradition calls it), it never occurs to them to later question if the child actually understood the decision he or she was making.

    I’m not questioning the faithfulness of the Lord here. But I am questioning if many of these young people have actually been converted.

    I don’t know the answer. But one thing is sure: something is wrong.

    Great post. Thanks for sharing it.

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  3. Andy: You are welcome. I do agree with you that the issue is not simple and that often it is more about money than the message in Christian publishing.

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  4. This book looks great, and I will definitely pick it up. Working with teens, I need all the information and resources I can get.

    I grew up in church and sprinted away from it as quickly as my feet could carry me the moment I was no longer forced to attend. But my reason was quite different. Mine had more to do with the hypocritical Christians all around me. I had no doubts that God existed – I’d felt Him and seen healings, changed lives, etc. But despite all that I knew I did NOT want to be a Christian. I’d seen what those people were like and I wanted nothing to do with their holier-than-thou Sunday morning speeches and their closet affairs and disdain for people they considered less than themselves.

    Teens aren’t stupid. They know that no one is perfect and the last thing they need is someone preaching at them from a pulpit, pretending to be all that. I work a lot with teens – inner city teens most of whom show up Wednesday nights because they have no place else to be and are just looking for time away from their messed up families. They are amazing, wonderful kids who are looking for something to believe in. What they need – what they respond to – is someone who says, “Look, we’re all broken. But it’s okay because God specializes in fixing broken people. You just have to be willing to let Him fix you…”

    By the way, since you’re challenging Christian publishers to evaluate what they’re publishing and make sure they’re doing the right thing, my Christian young adult series was traditionally published by an awesome Christian publisher. The problem isn’t so much in publishing work as it is marketing. Most Christian publishers will not accept books from authors who haven’t “made it” yet. Those that will work their tails off and have to do what they can on small marketing budgets. They’re creative and innovative, but it’s really difficult to get the word out. A lot of times authors believe that all they need to do is submit their work for publishing. Then they can step away and collect the checks that will just roll in. Not so. Gotta work for it. These Christian publishers are more willing to work with you if you approach them with a solid marketing plan and are willing to go the distance. Just sayin’.

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  5. Amanda: It is true that Christian publishers throw the big marketing money at the known authors who have a large platform. When they do pick up unknown authors, these books don’t get the same attention. That’s why so many small publishers are emerging on the scene. These are the one that are now publishing many unknown and new authors with some great resources. Thanks for sharing.

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