Recently, I spent some time talking with several former students. Boy, have they grown! One young man was excited to tell me how his faith has guided his life to make successful choices. Three years after graduating from NCS, he can recall how his school lessons have shaped his worldview and character. In this same month, other NCS graduates came by to visit and share their experiences with our middle school students. They offered both the positive and the negative experiences of growing up in today’s culture. They have an insight into the youth culture that is often hidden from adults
All of the young people reported there is strong pressure to conform to the current youth culture. They found some kids seem to despise them because they believe in truth, respect and honor. Yet, others were curious about their moral lifestyle. The NCS graduates reported that they see other Christian kids in their high school hiding their beliefs or outright conforming to the world. They believe the ridicule that responsible kids can experience causes others, without the same courage, to lay low or submit to the pressure.
Research supports the belief that early childhood instruction is the safest approach to ensure success in the future. A sociological survey by the Barna Research Group found kids internalize their values by the age of fourteen. If they embrace ethical values by age 14, they have a ninety-five percent chance of retaining those beliefs throughout their adult life.
Dr. Christian Smith of the University of North Carolina agrees with Barna’s assessment. His efforts discovered that children aged 13-17 do have an interest in their parents’ religion. He also uncovered that teenagers who have sound religious beliefs also experience healthier relationships with their parents, have higher school success, and avoid risky behaviors more than non-religious kids. The downside is that Dr. Smith found many religious kids could not articulate their faith or their beliefs. He fears their theological simplicity will not be sufficient to carry them through the real challenges of adulthood. Smith believes parents and churches must prepare a young person to understand, at a deeper level, how those biblical truths will apply to every aspect of their life.
Efforts by families involved in Christian education to protect their children, and inspire them with genuine experiences and discussions, will better equip them to become champions in their future relationships and endeavors. When our children see us practice our values, read the Bible, and pray, they will be more prone to respect our faith and accept Jesus as their own. The sacrifices we put forth, to prepare them for eternity, will be well spent as we see them grow into the men and women God designed them to be, and these sacrifices will touch lives for eternity.