Already Gone by Ken Hamm and Britt Beemer

Already Gone
Why your kids will quit church
and what you can do to stop it.
By Ken Hamm, Britt Beemer and Todd Hillard
Master Books (May 28, 2009)

One of the disadvantages of being a writer is, by default, you’re documenting your opinion at a given point in time. If your opinion changes you have to document the change lest people think you still hold the same opinion.

In 2011, I read “Already Gone” by Ken Hamm and Britt Beemer. It was a tough time in my life. We were church hopping in an effort to resolve the very issues discussed in the book. I was angry with “church” and this book confirmed my reasons.

Looking back, with my children now grown, I can see I fell victim to a base instinct which also negatively impacts how our kids see church; Right reasons, wrong response and no humility. Here’s the original review.

If you’re one of those parents that think your kid is going to give up on church and their faith in God when they leave home you can put your fears to rest because chances are they gave up a long time ago.

61% of young adults have left the church

A survey by George Barna shows 61% of today’s young adults attended church when they were younger, but have since left the church.  For those of you, like me, who see a difference between a church attender and someone who is born again, this distinction cannot be made in a survey. What the survey can point out is that many of these kids believe themselves to be Christians and others do not, but 2/3 of them have left the church regardless; And it wasn’t college that made the difference…

Every kid believes there must be something better to do on Sunday morning than go to church.  Ken Ham and Brit Beemer’s new book, Already Gone, gives chilling evidence that the kids are right.  In fact, according to their research taking your kids to Sunday School may be the worst thing you can do for their faith.

The church is killing their faith in God and the result, Ham says, is “an almost indifferent shrug of the shoulders.”  In other words, these kids, now adults, just didn’t see much reason to keep going to church.  Why?  Ham and Beemer cite a litany of reasons culled from the survey answers. It boils down to: kids are asking tough questions about life and the Bible and the church just doesn’t provide the answers.

This is where the book became personal for me.  In the churches I’ve attended, the prerequisite for teaching any kind of Bible study, or Sunday School class, is willingness.  It didn’t matter if the volunteer could teach, understand the material, or even believed the material. All that mattered is they were willing to present the material.  When children respond with questions the volunteer often can’t answer, or in many cases gave an answer that contradicted the Bible.  Never mind those youth programs that have given up teaching the Bible altogether in favor of more music, more games, and a more comfortable atmosphere.

Facing skepticism from the outside world

When our kids are outside the church and in the world, they will be faced with situations, questions and skepticism challenging their faith.  Like their Sunday School teachers, they will have no answer or the wrong answer.

Consider young Johnny; a freshman in high school and already bored with church.  On Sunday, he and his family sit through a 30 minute message about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection is the cornerstone of the Christian faith, proclaims the pastor. On Monday, Johnny goes to school.  His teacher talks about a mythological story and how similar it is to the Christian “myth” of the resurrection.

Johnny now has a dilemma, but let’s praise him first for paying attention both in class and in church.  Why did his Pastor tell him the resurrection is true, but his teacher claims it’s a myth? The answer that Johnny is likely to get from his parents, or church, is a simplistic one, “Trust Jesus.  You just have to have faith.”  The answer from his teacher will cite historical documents and archeological data.  Which one is going to carry more weight?

Why didn’t Johnny’s parents, or youth pastor, give him the historical and archeological evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ?  The answer to that question varies, but consequently, kids like Johnny cannot defend their faith and eventually just give up on it.

What to do right now

If you have young children, I highly recommend reading this book. Solutions are presented in Chapter 7. I want to highlight three.

1. We do not live in a Christian culture any more.  You can no longer assume that the church, or the school system is going to teach, or even support, a Biblical worldview.

2. Take responsibility for your child’s Christian education.  If you can’t take responsibility for it then consider that you yourself might not be a Christian.  If that matters to you then take action on that.

3. Teach your children Bible history, not Bible stories.  Portraying Noah’s Ark as a bathtub toy, or Samson and Delilah as a love story, or the Virgin birth as a cozy Christmas story, will undermine your child’s faith. The events described in the Bible actually happened and there is extra-Biblical evidence for much of it.  Yes, it’s true, not all of the Bible can be historically verified, but most of it can, and none of it has been contradicted.  You and your children need to know that.

We must take our faith in Jesus Christ seriously. If you don’t, your kids won’t.

Already Gone: Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it.
By Ken Ham and Brit Beemer.
Published 2009, New Leaf

This was originally published in February 2011. I’ve made some style edits because I’m a writer and I’m never happy with the final product. In a few years, I’ll probably edit it again. The content retains its original meaning.

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