The Declining Spiritual Condition of America’s Children

First, the best perspective…

And thou shalt teach them (God’s Word) diligently unto thy children… – Deuteronomy 6:7

Since the days of Moses, God has made it clear that parents are to
be the primary teachers of Biblical values to their children. His design is that the principles found in His Word should be passed down from generation to generation, thus providing strength and stability to the family, and to the entire nation. As man honored these requirements, the blessing of God was evident.

Yet in our own nation, the teaching of Biblical principles in the home has eroded during the past fifty years. Changes in societal values have led parents to shift their efforts toward giving children plenty of opportunities for involvement in all types of activities, other than the spiritual. Meanwhile, church attendance, Bible stories and bed-time prayers have faded in importance.

When I was a child, my family rarely attended church. I’m not sure why, but it never seemed to be a priority. However, we did have some occasional spiritual input. There was at least one Bible in our home, even if it was seldom read. Also, my mother found a way to purchase the well-known set of ten blue Bible story books seen in many homes. These were readily available and were read on occasion, leading to an understanding of the great stories found in God’s Word.

Our family had a time of prayer before dinner:
God is great and God is good. And we thank Him for this food.
By His hands we must be fed. Give us Lord our daily bread.

Then at night before bed, another time of prayer:
Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.

Throughout my childhood and teen years, The Billy Graham Crusade was on network television once or twice a year, usually featured for several successive evenings. Mr. Graham’s messages were sincere and easy to understand. My family often watched these programs, finding them to be just as interesting as most regular programming.

Billy Graham on TV
Billy Graham Crusade TV Reminder

(photo from Dennis Daily’s Blog)

With the limited spiritual input that my family had, there was at least some understanding of God: Who He is, that He is good, and that He loves us. We also knew that the Bible is a great book and that its principles are worth knowing and following.

My concern today is that many children in our society do not even have this small amount of light in their lives. Young people who do attend church regularly and who have parents that invest time in their spiritual development may have an advantage, but the vast majority of children in the United States have very little spiritual input. No church attendance, no Bible stories, and no prayer time. Meanwhile, Billy Graham is 97 years old, so there are no more crusades that families can watch together on television.

Perhaps it is true that many of the problems we have in our nation today are the result of neglecting the spiritual development of our children. If only parents would take some time to build a bit of the truth of God’s Word into their children’s lives with the same focus given to so many other activities! People are busy and life is hectic. This is certainly true, but many parents have no desire to diligently teach Biblical values to their children and those who might want to do so are unsure about where to begin..

Some of these parents realize the fact that their children are missing an important part of well-rounded development. This is one reason why church ministries like AWANA and Olympians are so important. Also, Good News Club® and similar ministries that take place in the public school are wonderful tools to help make up for what children do not receive at home.

Pastor Tom Howell Teaches a Memory Verse at Good News Club
(photo by the author)

During the past few years, a number of parents whose children come to Good News Club each week have shared their thoughts with me. One mom said, “Good News Club is their church.” Another mother added, “My daughter has a closer relationship with God than I ever did.” A dad emphatically stated, “My kid could use a little religion!”

These parents all love their children and provide everything they can so that the kids will grow into the best adults possible. But many moms and dads find it difficult to take care of the spiritual part of life. Some are uncomfortable about church attendance and don’t know what church they should attend even if they do decide to go. Many others have no idea how to build good spiritual values into their children’s lives.  As a result, these parents are grateful that others have taken the initiative to offer church and school based options to help them in what they perceive to be an area of weakness.

Ministry opportunities abound for people committed to the cause
of the Gospel and teaching God’s Word to children. Those of us who are committed to building strong Biblical values into the lives of our own children should look for practical ways to help parents who struggle with this essential part of life. Our nation desperately needs to see a new generation of young people grow into strong, mature, faithful Christian men and women who become leaders that will rebuild the spiritual foundations that have eroded during the past fifty years.

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© Jeffery J. Michaels / Plain English Publications 2015

(quotations are allowed with attribution to this blog)