When Do Americans Become Christians?

A survey from the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) found that 63% of individuals become a Christian between the age of 4-14, with the median age being 11. The same survey also found that 34% of individuals become a Christian between the age of 15-29. According to this study, 97% of individuals become a Christian before the age of 30.

In case that didn’t register, that is 97%! That means, if you asked 100 people when they became a Christian, 63 became a Christian between the age of 4-14, 34 between the age of 15-29, and only 3 out of 100 after the age of 30.

There are many implications we should consider such as:

  • Return on investment: The greatest return on ministry investment is a focus on children, then youth, then young adults.
  • Ministry budget: The average church only spends 3% of its budget on children while allotting the majority of its ministry and missions budgets to adults.
  • The family: Parents and grandparents should be trained to share the gospel, pray for a child’s salvation, and nurture an environment where God’s Spirit can work to open a child’s eyes to his or her need for Christ. It is the family that has the greatest opportunity to introduce a child to Christ and nurture the heart.
  • Defense of faith: Parents and grandparents must take seriously the spiritual influences that are present in the early and teen years of a child. Education, media, and peers impact what a child believes about Christ and thus must be taken seriously.

D.L. Moody once said, “If I could relive my life, I would devote my entire ministry to reaching children for God.” Moody understood the importance of the early years and the strategic investment they represent. If the early and teen years are so crucial to the faith development of a Christian, then we would be wise to focus on this time of life in our churches and homes.

Family Talk: News and Resources for Family Discipleship

Family Talk: News and Resources for Family Discipleship

1. Gender neutral baby names on the rise. 

“That trend, of gender neutral names, particularly for the girls, seems to be on the rise,” said Doctor Sarah Eiser, an OBGYN with Lancaster General Health. Some popular unisex baby include Corey, Tyler, Logan and even Jayden, according to thebump.com.”

2. A growing number of parents allow their child to accept or reject their biological gender, reinforcing gender dysphoria.

“Is Zyler a boy or a girl? How about Kadyn? That’s a question their parents, Nate and Julia Sharpe, say only the twins can decide. The Cambridge, Mass., couple represent a small group of parents raising “theybies” — children being brought up without gender designation from birth. A Facebook community for these parents currently claims about 220 members across the U.S.”

3. Learn about a movement that threatens to negatively influence the church called the “Woke Movement,” a phrase used to describe an awakening to issues of race, gender, and sexuality.

“Unless you have been living in seclusion somewhere, you will have noticed that a radical putsch is currently underway to get evangelicals on board with doctrines borrowed from Black Liberation Theology, Critical Race Theory, Intersectional Feminism, and other ideologies that are currently stylish in the left-leaning secular academy. All of these things are being aggressively promoted in the name of “racial reconciliation.” This has suddenly given rise to a popular movement that looks to be far more influential—and a more ominous threat to evangelical unity and gospel clarity—than the Emergent campaign was 15 years ago. The movement doesn’t have an official name yet, but the zealots therein like to refer to themselves as “woke.”

Five Things To Say to a Loved One Before Death

My mother died from ALS ten years ago on June 11, 2008 (which also happens to be my wedding anniversary). Lots has happened in life since then and I sometimes wonder how my mom would respond if she knew all that happened in my life. I can see the shock on her face when she learns I have five kids and got a PhD — a couple of the many things that she probably never expected to occur in my life. I’m guessing she would be surprised in a good way.

ALS is a nasty neurological disease which slowly causes a person to become paralyzed. Death occurs when an individual loses the ability to breath. I wanted to be intentional with the limited amount of time remaining with my mom. I spent two weeks of concentrated time with her, asked her dozens of questions about her faith and life, and then recorded them in a book for the Mulvihill family. The book has been a blessing for my children as a way to learn about their grandmother.

I also wanted to make sure our relationship ended with no regrets and in a great place. My mom and I had a strong relationship, but I had heard stories from numerous friends who had relational regrets with a parent who died and I didn’t want to be one of those individuals. I spent some time developing a list of five things that must be said before my mom died:

  • I love you
  • Please forgive me
  • I forgive you
  • Thank you
  • Goodbye

Just reading the list brings tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. I had some sweet moments with my mom that strengthened an already strong relationship. Good gave me the opportunity to whisper goodbye in her ear the morning she died. I am grateful that God gave me the time to have these conversations with my mom and write this to encourage you to consider if there is anyone in your life, sick or healthy, that needs to hear one or more of these things from you?

What’s the Gospel?

There is no more important message to understand in life than the gospel. Yet, for many Christians there is a fog of confusion that surrounds the gospel. If someone says the gospel is the way of Jesus, the kingdom of God, positive thinking, or compassion toward others would you be able to explain why each of these explanations of the gospel is insufficient? The gospel has been the recipient of massive distortions and over simplifications. In relation to the gospel you should have a four-fold aim: (1) clearly understand it, (2) concisely explain it, (3) culturally connect it, and (4) confidently proclaim it.

Greg Gilbert wrote a helpful book called What is the Gospel where he used four words to summarize the gospel: God, man, Christ, and response. Remembering these four will help us understand, explain, and proclaim the gospel. The gospel is the good news because it addressed the most serious problem that humans have. R.C. Sproul summarizes this problem by saying, “God is holy and He is just, and I’m not.” Here is the gospel in a nutshell.

God is creator and he is holy. He is perfect. He has not sinned. He is just; he will not ignore or excuse the sin of others. The Bible teaches that all humans are accountable to God. He created us; therefore, he can demand we worship him.

Man has rebelled against God. We have placed ourselves on the throne of life. Romans 1:23 says we have exchanged the glory of God for idols. We are glory thieves, yet God will not share his glory with another. We have fallen short of God’s demand for perfection. At the end of your life you will stand before a just and holy God and be judged on the basis of your righteousness. Romans 3:19 says that when we stand before the judge, every mouth will be silenced. No one will offer a defense or any excuses. That is a sobering image. You have rebelled against a holy God that created you. That is the bad news.

The good news of the gospel is that Jesus lived a perfect life of righteousness and offered himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice of God. God’s solution to humanity’s sin is the death and resurrection of Jesus. We can be saved from the condemnation our sin deserves through redemption in Jesus (Romans 3:24). The gospel is news, not advice. It is news that something has happened and we must respond to it. All religions are advice.

A response by faith is needed. The great lie of our day is that God forgives everybody; that he is a loving God who sweeps our sins under the carpet and grants forgiveness to those who are good people. The Bible is clear that we are not justified by our works, our efforts, our deeds, but by faith alone. Salvation comes “through faith in Jesus Christ” and it is “for all who believe” (Romans 3:22). How is the good news for you? Believe in Jesus Christ and repent of your sins. When you do that you are declared righteous by God, you are adopted into his family, and forgiven of all your sins. God acted in Jesus to save us and we take hold of that salvation by repentance of sin through faith in Jesus. That’s good news. And that is the gospel.

Family Talk: News and Resources for Family Discipleship

Family Talk: News and Resources for Family Discipleship

1. How to navigate technology in your home with twelve practical ideas and helpful research. 

“When talking about teens and screens — or “screenagers” — we need to get concrete. So let me offer twelve practical suggestions to stir into the discussions you’re already having in your churches and homes.”

2. A growing number of grandparents are raising their grandchildren, which brings a unique set of challenges. Learn more about these families and ways you can support them.

“More grandparents than ever are being put in a position like Barb and Fran—becoming full-time parents again, often with fewer resources and more health problems than they had the first time around. The arrangement is not new, of course — people raised by grandparents for at least part of their childhood include Maya Angelou, Carol Burnett, and two former presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama—but it’s more common than ever these days.”

3. New research on evolution provides opportunity for parents and grandparents to teach children the trustworthiness of the Bible.

“The study’s most startling result, perhaps, is that nine out of 10 species on Earth today, including humans, came into being 100,000 to 200,000 years ago. ‘This conclusion is very surprising, and I fought against it as hard as I could,’ Thaler told AFP. That reaction is understandable: How does one explain the fact that 90 percent of animal life, genetically speaking, is roughly the same age?”

What is Vaping?

What is vaping? Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device.

A new wave of smaller vapes has swept through schools in recent months, replacing bulkier e-cigarettes. It’s now common in some schools to find students crowded into bathrooms to vape, or performing vape tricks in class.

  • The devices heat liquid into an inhalable vapor that’s sold in sugary flavors like mango and mint — and often with the addictive drug nicotine.
  • They’re marketed to smokers as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, but officials say they’re making their way to teens with surprising ease.
  • Vaping devices are notoriously difficult to detect for schools, often leaving behind only a quick puff of vapor and a light fruity scent.
  • Students get awaywith it in bathrooms, halls and even classrooms, where some say they exhale the vapor into their shirts.
  • Although buyinge-cigarettes is illegal under age 18 — and some states have bumped the minimum age to 21 — students say they can buy them online or from older friends.”
  • Some say there are dozens available for sale in school hallways at any given time.
  • Some schoolshave been inundated by the Juul, which dispenses a flavored vapor containing higher concentrations of nicotine than tobacco cigarettes.

Why it matters: Vaping has become increasingly popular with teenagers. While high schools have typically experienced the most problems, some schools say vaping is spreading to middle schools. Have a discussion with your child about vaping, ask what they have seen, and talk about the addictive and harmful results of vaping.

Family Talk: News and Resources for Family Discipleship.

Family Talk: News and Resources for Family Discipleship

1. A correct theology of the home does not idolize or marginalize the home, but sees the home as the first and primary place where the battle for hearts and minds of children is won.

“The home front is the forlorn battlefield of the cultural wars. In our strivings to defend the gospel against doctrinal decline in the church and increasing secularism in the culture, we must not forget the importance of cultivating virtue in the home. For the church

2. Pew study reveals significant theological confusion about God and reminds us of the necessity to teach young people the character of God as taught in Scripture.

“When respondents say they don’t believe in God, what are they rejecting? Are they rejecting belief in any higher power or spiritual force in the universe? Or are they rejecting only a traditional Christian idea of God – perhaps recalling images of a bearded man in the sky? Conversely, when respondents say they do believe in God, what do they believe in – God as described in the Bible, or some other spiritual force or supreme being?”

3. Mayor of Hoboken rejects God’s design for gender and orders all bathrooms to become gender neutral. 

“The city of Hoboken, N.J. — just over the bridge from Manhattan’s skyline — now joins a growing list of American cities passing bills making public bathrooms “gender neutral.” Bhalla said his executive order is the “next step,” designed to “further protect the civil rights and dignity of our transgender, gender non-binary, and queer residents and visitors, but this is just the start. I will continue to introduce progressive and inclusive policies to protect all residents.”

 

Family Talk: News and Resources for Family Discipleship

For the Family: News and resources for family discipleship

Five articles, videos, and resources to encourage and equip parents and grandparents.

According to new Barna study, conservative Christians credit parents, the Bible, church, and family members (grandparents) as the four most dominant influences in their life.

“The top three personal influences cited by SAGE Cons are the Bible (estimated to have “a lot of influence” on their decisions and perspectives by 98%), religious teaching (92%), and the values taught to them by their parents (77%). A second series of entities were said to have “a lot of influence” by about one-third of the segment. Those influences included family members (listed by 33%)…”

Massachusetts schools adopt new curriculum aimed at normalizing LGBTQ lifestyle.

“Bay State schools will be able to try a new curriculum with LGBTQ-themed history, English and health this fall that proponents say is an effort to help all students see themselves reflected in classrooms.”

“It is really up to classroom teachers to normalize being LGBTQ in the classroom. It is not only talking about it in the curriculum but being careful in the language they use, respecting the pronouns students use or not making heterosexist assumptions. Teachers can do a lot to help normalize LGBTQ.”

Public schools are a mechanism to teach children transgenderism.

“A majority of these teachers also said they have tried to integrate LGBT-related topics into their teaching. Many also mentioned advising LGBT awareness groups for students, training peers or addressing the topic in venues such as school assemblies.”

“And, they told us, they see schools as crucial spaces not only of learning, but of safety, for the next generation.”

The Bible gives us an incredible picture of the glory of old age and the purpose for the last half of life.

“The Bible dignifies four stages of life. It probably has more to the last stage than any other. What the Bible has to say about age is not counter-intuitive, it is extremely, and profoundly counter-cultural.”

Gospel Shaped Family Conference to equip parents, grandparents, and church leaders to shape the next generation for Christ.

The Gospel Shaped Family conference is designed to equip families to raise children and grandchildren with a deep, lasting, culture-transforming faith. God designed families to shape the next generation with the gospel, give them a biblical view of life, and be the primary means to help children and grandchildren mature in Christ.

A Popular Half Truth: More is Caught Than Taught

A common phrase used to communicate how to pass on faith to future generations is this, “Faith is caught not taught.” It sounds spiritual. Unfortunately, it’s unbiblical. The Bible elevates both as important. Faith is caught, which is why we must be able to say to young people, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Faith is also taught. The Bible prioritizes teaching as the primary method of helping future generations know Christ and grow in maturity. Let’s explore a few passages that command parents and grandparents to teach the truth of God’s word to young people.

  • Teach these things to your children and your children’s children (Deut. 4:9).
  • You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk about them when you sit…walk…lie down…when you rise (Deut. 6:7).
  • He commanded our [grand] fathers to teach their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children (Ps. 78:5-6).
  • Hear, my son, your father’s instruction and forsake not your mother’s teaching (Prov. 1:8).
  • Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).
  • Older women…are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind and submissive to their own husbands…Older men…urge the younger men to be self-controlled (Titus 2:2-6).

Parents and grandparents are to use the Bible to shapes who a child becomes and how the child lives. This is the pattern and command of Scripture. Parents and grandparents in Deuteronomy were commanded to teach the law of God (ten commandments) to children so that future generations develop an understanding of right and wrong. The father and mother in Proverbs provide an example how to train children to develop a biblical view of life as they instruct their son to make wise choices about friendship (1:10), money (3:9), marriage (5:18), and work (6:6), and more. The grandparents of Titus 2 shape future generations by providing character training and guidance how to be a godly mother and wife.

There is no substitute for living in a manner worthy of the gospel, but also let us commit to verbally teaching biblical truths to the next generation so that they may develop a deep, lasting, Scripture-saturated faith. Click To Tweet

There is no substitute for living in a manner worthy of the gospel, but also let us commit to verbally teaching biblical truths to the next generation so that they may develop a deep, lasting, Scripture-saturated faith.

Training Children in the Lord: An Exhortation and Encouragement

Research reveals that over 90 percent of Christian parents know it’s their responsibility to raise their children to know, love, and serve Jesus. Research also suggests that low numbers of Christian parents regularly read the Bible with their children, discuss matters of faith, or have a plan to raise their children in the Lord. Apparently, not much has changed over the last 300 years.

In 1732, a Puritan pastor named Philip Doddridge preached a series of four sermons on the religious education of children. His purpose was to encourage and exhort parents to take seriously their responsibility to train up their children in the Lord. Doddridge preached the sermon series because he was alarmed at the high number of parents in his congregation who were neglecting to raise their children in the instruction of the Lord.

Doddridge admonished his congregation that they taught their children to read, but not to read the Bible. He boldly proclaimed that parents were willing to care for their own bodies by feeding themselves bread, but not care for the souls of their children by feeding them daily bread from God’s word.

Doddridge asked the parents of his congregation a question that all Christian parents should be asking themselves:

Have you, from the very day of their birth to this time, ever spent one hour seriously instructing them in the knowledge of God and endeavoring to form them to His fear and service in setting before them the misery of their natural condition, and urging them to apply to Christ for life and salvation; in representing the solemnities of death, judgment, and the eternal world, and urging an immediate and diligent preparation for them?

Parents, when have you opened the Bible with your children to study God’s word? When have your prayed for them and with them? If this is not a normal part of your weekly routine may the words of Philip Doddridge remind you how critically important it is for you to train up your children in the Lord.

Your children are born with a corrupted nature, perverted by sin, ignorant of God, in a state of growing enmity to Him, and, in consequence of all, exposed to His wrath and curse, and in the way to everlasting ruin.

May these strong words serve to prevent you from spiritual negligence, exhort you to action, and encourage you toward intentionality.