The phrase 'de-constructing their faith' is used to describe adults in their 20's-40's, but especially in their 30's, who have 'fallen away from the Lord', though raised in a Christian church and family. They now reject their faith claiming to be either atheist, agnostic, or 'I just don't believe that anymore'.
They are deconstructing what they used to believe. Just like renovating a home, the first step is to tear out anything that is old, dangerous, out of date, or unwanted. But just like a derelict home, they are left with it de-constructed and abandoned. They are in a rut, knowing more what they don't believe than what they do.
For parents who were in a 'good' church when raising these children, it is agonizing
It is hard for some not to take it personally, wondering where they went wrong. If not taken personally, it is at least emotionally distressing because the parents were saved out of many of the things now embraced by these adult children. But they have a free will and are responsible for their own lives as adults.
Additionally, many parents of these now adult children have also de-churched themselves, having been hurt or had other experiences that turned them off to the auditorium church system. We find many joining house churches, not out of that hurt, but seeking the genuine, with real relationships - doing church as the apostles and people of the New Testament celebrated the gathering of the saints - finding genuine friendships and relationships in Christ, walking through life together.
Many haven't rejected Jesus in their heart of hearts, though they may sometimes claim otherwise, but rather the package and structure through which they learned of Him. They discovered auditorium church taught them more about Him than actually knowing Him. They had a church experience not a God experience on Sundays.
We took the kids to church every Sunday, what happened?
Very often when they were young their parents came (or came back) to the Lord, and brought their young family to a good 'Bible believing' church. The were hoping their children too would 'accept the Lord' - and they assumed that was happening via the nursery and Children's Church, and later Youth Group. Some of these children went on to Bible schools, intern programs, missions trips; all designed to reinforce the faith their parents hoped their children had.
But somehow the faith of their parents didn't fully become their own. Every child has to go through that process of making the faith of their parents, their own. But kids are expert at seeing double standards and hypocrisy, and because they are in school they know what a structure that values appearance and performance looks like. You can teach a kid history, but you can't get them to love history. You can teach them math, but you can't get them to love math. You can teach a child about Jesus, but you can't get them to know Him. Kids know how to perform within a structure.
The thing that was foundational was this:They trusted their parents to be right. Many did walk with the Lord or at least had experiences with the Lord. They trusted in what they were told, in the structure, in the system. But then they grew up and out of that system. Mom and dad's voice wasn't the only one anymore; who to believe?
They grow up...
Once these children get outside the confines of that church, they discover in college or work that good people from many different religions are alive and well on planet earth. They start to see truths in other religions and philosophies, which is eye-opening for them, because in their Christian education no one taught them about other religions and belief systems.
Unfortunately, in Christian schools and more than that, in the homes, there is little if any education about different religions and philosophies. The home is the perfect place to talk with pre-teens and teenagers about other religions and the other voices 'out there', before they get 'out there'. But for most, they move very suddenly from a sheltered Christian home and Christian school and Bible believing church into the world. And they don't have the knowledge to filter and reason through their faith, nor any depth to their own walk with Him.
That said, it isn't just about knowledge.
These teens must know, actually know the Father and Lord, and from there they will be secure learning of other religions and philosophies. They need to develop at home their own time with the Lord - in worship, study, thinking and writing on the things the Lord causes to 'stand out' and catch their attention. Deuteronomy 11:19 tells parents to remember to talk of the Lord with (not to) their children:"...when you sit in your house, when you are walking along together, when you get ready for bed at night and when you arise in the morning."
The auditorium church separates families as soon as they go through the door, and without a personal walk with the Lord, many of these children will, once removed from the structure, fall away.
It isn't unlike someone in the military or a professional athlete, that while in their program are submitted to an external structure demanding physical exercise, but once out of that program with that external structure removed, they stop exercising and get fat and lazy - all because they never developed their own internal discipline while they were in that structure. It never became part of them in their heart.
That is the same with many of these now adult children - church provided a structure, but because they didn't have their own discipline and walk with the Lord, once the structure was removed, so goes their faith. Once that is done, other voices enter in, they start deconstructing their faith plank by plank, examining what they liked or didn't like...
There are examples of adult children in scripture who 'deconstructed' their faith
The prodigal son clearly went through a time of deconstructing his faith, but do we recognize the rich young ruler was in the midst of doing the same thing? Paul's close companion Demas, in the end forsook him, for Paul said 'he loves this present world'.
Next week we will look at some of these people and be able to relate to the process going on inside of them. Remember this however, God the Father is a Spirit, and He works first and foremost out of view, deep in a person's heart, in their deepest thoughts. Paul said in Galatians 4:19 that he was 'travailing in birth again, until Christ be formed in you'.
It is a process, and don't be discouraged by the outward appearance of an adult child who is deconstructing their faith - trust Christ is in fact in them, dealing with deep things that can take years, even decades to work out...but He is faithful to continue that work.
More next week, until then, blessings,
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