But there's more! Because being in church and staying in church is not just about relationships with others.
Jon Nielson is a youth pastor. In his post Why youth stay in church when they grow up at The Gospel Coalition (HT: the lovely Jean) he considered the drift from church by teenagers and young adults and then made three observations of those in their 20's from his church who are thriving, flourishing Christians. What seemed to make the difference?
1. They are converted.
Nielson said, "We need to stop talking about 'good kids.' We need to stop being pleased with attendance at youth group and fun retreats. We need to start getting on our knees and praying that the Holy Spirit will do miraculous saving work in the hearts of our students as the Word of God speaks to them...We need to preach, teach, and talk—all the while praying fervently for the miraculous work of regeneration to occur in the hearts and souls of our students."
2. They have been equipped, not entertained.
Which goes back to that idea that that our primary responsibility should be to prepare our children for a lifetime of service to God and His church. And that is not to say that THERE WILL BE NO MORE FUN! We teach and train our children in developmentally appropriate ways. But our ultimate aim is to teach, train, equip and disciple, not to entertain (or babysit.)
3. Their parents preached the gospel to them.
Nielson said, "The common thread that binds together almost every ministry-minded 20-something that I know is abundantly clear: a home where the gospel was not peripheral but absolutely central."
Which reminds me of this quote, "You must never succumb to the thinking that this is the responsibility of the youth group and Sunday school. True conversion of the heart and soul of your children is your God-given charge," from Disciplines of a Godly Family by Barbara Hughes.