Year after year I have been privileged to attend the beginning of the Bible college school year retreat. We go up to a camp beside a beautiful lake and enjoy the break from normalcy and get to know the new students. A fixture of the retreat is the testimony sharing time. It is always fascinating to hear how God led these students to Himself and how He guided them to KLBC, and this year was no different. Here is the typical Bible college student testimony:
I grew up in a Christian home. My parents would talk to me about God, Jesus, heaven and hell, and I got scared of hell. So when I was 5 years old I asked Jesus to save me. That was great, but nothing in my life really changed. Then when I hit high school I started hanging out with the wrong crowd. I started doing some stuff that wasn't so great, but I kept going to church and acting like everything was ok. So basically I was one person at church and a completely different person at school- a hypocrite. Then one year I went to this conference and something the speaker said just hit me. I began to realize that this was personal, that I needed to follow Christ. Then I heard about Bible college and decided that I needed to increase my knowledge. So I came.
I'd say about 75-85% of the students have a similar testimony. Each one grew up in a Christian home, got "saved" at a young age, proceeded to do next to nothing about it, drifted during their teen years and became interested in spiritual things at the age of 17-18. This raises some questions in my mind, especially since I have a very similar testimony under my own belt- minus the doing the "bad stuff" part (don't worry, Mom).
1. My first question as a parent instintively was, "What can be done to avoid this?" which led me to ask,
2. Should we even want to avoid this, or is it a necessary step in the spiritual growth of a child raised in a Christian home, i.e. making their parents faith personal?
3. Is conversion a process? Or is there really a moment in time when we just formulate a little prayer and are saved?
4. Children base their faith on the little knowledge they know, but is their faith really genuine?
5. Is being scared of going to hell and as a result of that fear praying a prayer of confession and belief (which for me was basically an acknowledgment of head knowledge) really accepting Christ as Saviour?
I don't know the answers. I'm inclined to think that there is a point in a child's life where most everything their parent has taught them must be tried, and not only spiritual things. For example, my parents could tell me the importance of budgeting my money, but until I was out on my own I didn't realize the true importance of that. Maybe it is the same way with faith? My parents can teach me my need for Christ, but until I see how desperate I really am (and that often comes to light during teen years) I am not likely to take it seriously. And another thing: sometimes I wonder if those who come to Christ later in life have a better scale by which to gauge their spiritual growth.
I wrote this so quickly that I'm sure I haven't expressed myself completely, but let me leave it at that for starters. Give me your ideas.