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May 13, 2014 / BTM

Is the Church Helping Kids to Become Atheists?

You’ve got to be kidding, right?  How could churches churn out atheists?

Pastor Matt wrote a very interesting post recently where he shared a summary and his take on David Kinnaman’s book You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church…and Rethinking Faith (Baker 2011).  The book is based on a Barna study.

Pastor Matt titled his post “How Churches Train Kids To Be Atheists”.  Given that Pastor Matt was a preacher’s kid who became an atheist himself at one point, before a long and painful journey back to the faith, he should know.


Pastor Matt notes that a number of the reasons that men and women aged 18-30 are leaving the church are perhaps ones of mere perception.

I think this is a great point.  There are so many slogans volleyed against Christianity – its too rule based, it scientifically backward, its hypocritical, its snobby, etc.  Many people fall for them.  Or they worry that the slogans may be true.  It would be a shame for someone to leave Christianity without even challenging the veracity of those doubts!

Pastor Matt also indicates that an additional reason why kids leave the church is that they feel their faith “didn’t work”  (See a related post of his on why he slipped into atheism.)

When I think about the people I know who have left Christianity, it was often because they had become disappointed with God.  That, to me, sounds like a failure to clearly understand Christian doctrine (which, I agree, does not get taught systematically).

Or, perhaps at a deeper level, it is a rejection of that doctrine that is at the heart of my friends’ departures from the faith.  This is where apologetics helps, particularly apologetics which establish that God exists.  Even if you don’t like the system (i.e. you don’t like the doctrines of Christianity), you’d still have to grapple with the fact that God does exist.  That has been helpful to me during the difficult times in my life.

Perhaps the title of his post is misleading.  Perhaps churches are not training kids to be atheists, but they may not be stopping them from that slide into atheism.  Atheism is all around us.  It is assumed by many.  Outside of us as parents, many of our kids will never hear anything rigorous or convincing to oppose or challenge these assumptions.  This is one of the reasons that we must train our kids well, and I suggest that we begin that training as early as possible.

Food for thought!

One Comment

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  1. Carrie / May 13 2014 9:27 am

    Nice post… and GOOD food for thought, as you said! Thanks for your work in sharing with parents your research into these important topics, as well as the fun object lessons that help us to take positive, proactive steps. Blessings! 🙂

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