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Saddest Letter I’ve Ever Read

Parents and Pastors—Please Read!!

I received this letter from a young lady last week—a Bible college student who grew up in a Christian home and Christian school. I believe it’s the saddest letter I’ve ever read and right on the mark for so detailing the experiences of so many young Christians. I asked her permission to post it. Please read. Her words will greatly challenge you as a parent or pastor:

Dear Pastor Schmidt,

A few years ago, I read your books Hook, Line, and Sinker, Discover Your Destiny, and Life Quest. I found them to be extremely encouraging and instructive. These books showed me that not only do you have a real heart for young people, but you also understand us well. I am writing to ask you to consider writing a book to our parents and youth workers. Let me explain.

 

“I was saved when I was about 5 and I had dedicated my life to God and I have been growing a lot and serving Him and now I’m studying to serve Him full time.” But that isn’t my story. Actually, though I did make a profession of faith when I was very young, I didn’t get saved until I was 17. Since I was 12 and now on into college I have struggled with “serious” issues. And I found out when I went to college that I am not the only “good kid” who is or has struggled with or is still struggling with serious stuff. We struggle with issues like eating disorders, depression and suicide, cutting, pornography, gender identity, homosexuality, drugs, drinking, immorality, and the list could go on. We listen to “wild” music, we idolize pop culture’s heroes, we watch dirty sitcoms. We have no discrimination in our entertainment, dress, or any aspect of our lifestyle. Obviously, I’m generalizing our problems—you would not find that every Christian young person from a conservative background struggles with all of these issues, and praise God, some of us do not struggle with any of these issues.

My point is that the problems that are supposed to be bad kid’s problems belong to us too. Unfortunately, our parents and youth workers don’t know that we struggle with these things and they don’t know what to do with us when they find out. Quite frankly, I believe that if you grabbed the average Christian school teacher or youth worker and asked them, “What would you do if you found out that one of the kids you work with was a homosexual?” they wouldn’t know what to say.

My point is not simply that they don’t know what we struggle with or how to deal with it. I think there is a pretty simple reason why “good” kids struggle with such serious stuff. And that there is a solution. At the risk of being blunt, I’m going to be blunt.

Our parents did not spend time teaching us to love God. Our parents put us in Sunday Schools since K4. Our parents took us to church every time the doors opened, and sent us to every youth activity. They made sure we went to good Christian colleges. They had us sing in the choir, help in the nursery, be ushers, go soulwinning. We did teen devotionals, and prayed over every meal. We did everything right. And they made sure that we did.

But they forgot about our hearts. They forgot that the Bible never commanded the church to teach children about God and His ways. That responsibility was laid at the feet of our fathers. Unfortunately, our fathers don’t have time for us. They put us where we are surrounded by the Bible. But they didn’t take time to show us that God was important enough to them to tell us personally about Him. So to us, Christianity has become a religion of externals. Do all the right stuff, and you’re a good Christian. So, some of us walk away from church. Some of us stay in church and fill a pew. Many of us struggle with stuff that our parents have no idea about because they hardly know us.

I think these problems stem from first, our detachment from our parents, and second from our misunderstandings about the essence of Christianity—a relationship, not a list of rules. I worry that many young people like me are not even saved because of their misunderstandings about Christianity.

I know that this has not been a well articulated treatise, but it comes from my heart. If you are able to help us and our families, we would be so grateful. I realize that probably, there is no way to fix the fact that kids my age are detached from our parents or to straighten out the crazy stuff that we struggle with. The alienation is fixed, the scars are permanent. I know our situation is not hopeless. God is at work in my life and my generation, among those of us who have struggled and are struggling. But maybe our younger siblings can have some help that we never had. Maybe you can write a book for our parents that will grab their attention and help them see that this is serious—that their kids need them, desperately.

I guess I’ve run out of things to say. I must say I’m a little hesitant to share my name with you because that attaches me with my parents, who are, by the way, good people. Thanks for everything you have already done to help Christian teens and their families. I’m eager to see what else God will do through you.

Sincerely,

(Name Removed to Protect Anonymity)

All I could say when I read this letter was, “WOW! She nailed it!” This is the battle I’ve been fighting for 21 years. I’m planning to write a couple of follow up articles to this letter, but for now, let this insightful young lady’s words sink in, and let God help you evaluate your own parenting and influence.

Are we teaching kids to simply appear and act right? Or are we teaching them to LOVE God and KNOW Him personally?

What are your thoughts?

PS – My first response to this letter is posted here.

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182 Comments

  • Wow! As a parent of a 5-year old and a 3-year old, this letter has been helpful to me! I will make sure I show my kids that God has worked in MY heart and will encourage my wife to follow suit so that our kids will see WHY we worship from the heart. Thanks for sharing this!

  • She’s right on. I hope her testimony will encourage many parents and youth workers to focus on the heart first. Sad story that is way too common.

  • I very much agree with what she is saying. We dont know how to deal with these things and are raising another generation that also does not know how. I truely believe this detached parenting stems right from when we give birth, we have ingrained in our christian community to detach from our God given babies by weaning/strict schedualing dont hold them too much or they will be spoiled, let them cry to sleep nonescence… and we wonder why our God given instincts go right out the window as they get older. We dont even know our own children from birth and have tought they cannot trust us. I know this is a rare viewpoint but nontheless I believe it to hold the key to why this detached generation is going through all of these issues. Sadly we are still raising our kids in this manner by listening to baby training bools rather than our God given instincts. No.wonder we dont know what we are doing.

    • Kristy,
      I couldn’t agree with you more. My background is in counseling and I was in this field for nearly 20 yrs before God called me into full-time ministry. I continue to teach at the college level (Christian College) counseling classes and that is one area that I spend much time on – attachment parenting. God has instilled these natural instincts into both mother and father and we Must Not ignore them. I am reminded of the verse in Proverbs 23:26 My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways. This is true attachment parenting. There is such a bond between parents and children from the moment of birth that it remains and even grows. We have 5 children and homeschool all of them (which I think is another reason we are losing our kids – expecting youth pastors, school teachers, & even Sunday School teachers to do our work). We are the parents and we will be held accountable. At the risk of sounding like Dr. Mike Farris (HSLDA) God gave our kids to us and not to a school system – no one will love or teach your kids better than you will (see current SAT scores for homeschoolers – but this is never the reason to homeschool) Deut. 6:7And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children [to love God with all of your heart, soul, & might], and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. We must teach them!

  • “I know that this has not been a well articulated treatise…”
    That’s the only line I really have a disagreement with.
    Church, standards, service, and activities are great, but without a relationship with the real Person that God is, it’s only dead religion. Thank you so much for such a thought-provoking article!

  • Thank you for sharing this. It’s a true challenge to parents, teachers, and ministry workers. In fact, I’m going home tonight and opening the Bible with my kids and sharing with them about my God and how they need to KNOW Him.

  • Thank you young lady for sharing your story. Bro. Schmidt, one I have learned from my father and other godly father like examples is that “Rules with Relationship breed rebellion.” I do not know who came up with that but I have 4 kids 5 under and what an overwhelming burden to cultivate and and have relationship with them! Mercy!
    Thank you for being a friend and example!

  • Wow, I can’t believe how much I can relate to this letter. I grew up in a Christian home, both my parents were in full-time Christian service my whole and my Dad a Pastor of several churches for most my life. What seemed to be a perfect little Christian home was anything but that. It seemed as though my parents were more concerned with what people thought we were than our real relationship we had with God. Like the girl said in her letter “our fathers don’t have time for us”. This sadly is so true too many times. Dad’s are more concerned about serving in the ministry than their own family.
    I’m so glad that she had the courage to send this letter and bring a light to things that have needed to be said for so long. Parents and youth workers have to know how to deal with problems that teens face today. I am a Youth Pastor’s wide today but I remember well trying to deal with my issues of cutting, problems that stem from childhood sexual abuse and other issues. No one wanted to help or even what to do. We have to be equipped to help these teens and young people, they are crying out for help and are scared to death and what someone might think of them if they tell them what’s really going on inside.
    Whoever it was that wrote that letter, thank you!

  • Wow, what courage and what insight. Having raised my children and always wishing that I had spent more time teaching them about God’s love and how to love Him. It seems like each generation relies more and more on others to teach their kids about God and the Bible. This young lady is right, the Lord says parents are to “bring them up in the nuture and admonition of the Lord”. It builds the relationship with God and with the parents. Bro. Schmidt, I have watched as you have poored your life into this, trying to involve parents in the teens lives. I truly appreciate it and pray that more and more parents will be involved.

  • I agree wholeheartedly with this young lady. She has hit the nail on the head! I am a 46 year old Christian, brought up in a wonderful Christian home and went to a public school. My DAD made sure that we were schooled in THE Word. Many of my Christian school friends were ridiculed for being friends with me and none of the guys would ask me out. Noone ever took the time to see that my heart as much as it could be, was on the right path. Even though I was privileged to send my children to a Christian school, I realized (my husband too), that it was our responsibility to teach and to train them.

  • This letter does, in fact, reveal a truth in our fundamental circles today. As a young man who grew up in Christians school and went to Christian College, I remember my youth pastor trying to convey to us the normalcy of God. God is our Father, Friend, and Fortress. He does not want merely our sacrifices if there is no heart behind our behavior. I echo Bro. Schmidt’s heart on this issue. We must emphasize to teens and adults the importance of the inward and the outward. Thank you Bro. Schmidt for teaching us these principles when Julee and I were in your youth group at LBC!

  • I was weeping after reading this. Why? Because I’ve been guilty! It’s so much easier at times to simply put a bandaid on the problem rather than dealing with the root problem. By God’s grace, I want to teach those God has entrusted in my care (including my own child) to love God with all their heart.

    Thank you for this blunt reminder of how we ought to minister. And may we not forget that we cannot teach something we do not first do ourselves.

  • I want to say that that this story brought up so many feelings from my Chrisitian School days, including Bible College.
    I was raised to know better. I knew what my families expectations of me were… didn’t we all want to marry a pastor and have this great ministry?
    I had my own inner issues, how could I at 17+ know what was best for me. I only knew the part.
    My heart aches for these teens as I ended up marrying the wrong man from Bible College who came from a “good” family. But you know the sad part…. I fell for everything that he told me. I even fell into sin while in Bible College. I dont want to detail, it was sin.
    Be sure to know these teens are facing the same issues as we did if not worse. And we need to know that our children need that one on one to SEE that we care, but how to make our Christianity personal.
    12 years later… I can say I have that relationship I always wanted with Christ, but man how much better it would of been had I not married wrong, divorced, and have two children that will have to know mommy messed up, and daddy just doesn’t care about the things of God.
    Its quite humbling to read, but even more to know how many like us are there..?

  • Amazing and very thought-provoking! I too was blessed to grow up in a very conservative Christian home where I was constantly told “good Christian girls don’t do that” and made to serve in all aspects of church life. It was at Christian college that I started to question what I believed and why I believed it. I am thankful that our heavenly Father didn’t allow me to fall too far before lifting me up with people who showed me the genuine love of Christ.
    It’s tough to break the pattern though. I have three young children, and I catch myself reprimanding and guiding a lot more than encouraging and loving. I wrote “Have you shown your kids God’s love today?” on my bathroom mirror so I could have that daily reminder. Thank you for posting this – it is yet another reminder for me.
    God bless!

  • Thanks, Bro. Schmitt. I reposted this to my FB, and forwarded it to the parents of all of the youth in our church. All of us Christian parents can learn from these kinds of warnings.

  • That was my experience too as a young person in Bible college. I knew nothing about what grace really was so I had no way to mortify my flesh except to use legalistic means of trying to purify myself, which led to utter failure time and time again. I knew little to nothing about the holiness of God except what my Bible college teachers made Him out to be – one of them… an almost impossible person to please. I quit on the ministry for a short time and God used Evangelist Dan Garlick to show me what a truly gracious, genuine, lover of God looks like and that I could be one too. God salvaged me before I could really make a bigger mess of my life, but most of my friends that I grew up with in church and in Bible college are living in deep sin and have gone through at least one marriage or two by now. Empty religion makes for shipwrecked lives! Glory to God for his grace and holiness that opened my eyes to see the beauty of God and not religion.

  • I can wholeheartedly agree.

    My parents think that anyone who cuts must be insane or demonically possessed. How can I share the struggles of my young friends or tell them that I was a cutter?
    I wish, wish, wish to Heaven that someone would explain these things.
    Because I know they aren’t. But I can’t say it.

  • Calling this letter the saddest ever already tells what value, priority you have in your life. After reading this letter, I was touched where I usually bury deep inside. I got a little emotional thinking of yester years of my life. I realized again how much it is important to have the right priority especially when you are serving the Lord full time. Being a daughter of a pastor, I never had a pastor and now being a wife of a pastor, I don’t have a pastor again. Having no dad and no spiritual mentor in my life caused a very sick illness- being afraid of interacting with people, which is the most difficult thing now as a helpmeet to my husband especially being a pastor’s wife. I now have children myself, but I find that it’s a vicious cycle that I can do no better than my parents because all I saw was that. It’s God’s grace that I still serve the Lord after all that rebellion. But still bearing consequences from it.

  • This is a letter I would have written many times if I only knew someone who could do anything about it. I applaud this girl. She is so right. This is one of the main reasons my heart is burdened for teens, and I am majoring in counseling. I wish to seek out how to help a generation like this. I seek to find the answers that I never had and be able to share them. It IS serious! It IS a struggle that is so often fought without parental aid! Amen, girl.

  • At one point in life we have to take our own responsibility for our own relationship with God. Our parents will stand before God on how they raised us, but WE will stand before God for our own relationship with Him.

    My mom was raised by a saved mother and an unsaved father, all my grandma did was take my mom to church; she never taught my mom how to have a relationship with Christ. At one point in my moms life she had to make a decision to go with God or go with the world. She made that decision with no biblical leadership.

    My parents bring me to church every sunday morning and night and wednesday but it’s my choice to listen to what pastor says. I understand there are strong struggles in a teens life, but at some point WE have to make the final choice. It’s not always the parents fault for the way we’ve turned out.

  • Wow! I would have written a letter like this if I knew that someone would have read it. I grew up in a christian home, got saved at 6, dedicated life to Lord at 12, lived a perfect, Christian life–not! I struggled with doubts my whole teen years and didn’t tell anyone until i was 17. My advice to anyone struggling with anything: Don’t hide your problems, fears, struggles, from everyone. Find someone you can trust to confide in. It will destroy you like it almost did me if you keep everything hidden. There are people around you who do care for you, you just need to let them help you. It is hard, I know! I’ve been there. I still find myself there sometimes. But God is still in control, even over those sins that seem impossible to beat. With His help, you can defeat them.

  • SOOO very true!! She definitely nailed this on the head!! In my years of working with kids, I have come to find out that Christian school kids are often worse than even the general public’s children!! I’ve never been too much of a person who was into many of the things she mentioned but I will admit, growning up as the pastor’s secretary’s daughter of a VERY well-known ministry as well, I too have had to work through some of these things on my own because there was noone there to whom I could go to get true help…

    Now that I have gotten out and have had a great amount of interaction with the public schools – mainly teaching junior high and high school, I am amazed time and again at how much these public school kids seem to get it more than our Christian school kids!! I can’t even get my girls singing group to dress correctly to sing in church on stage Sunday mornings and yet, I have public school girls telling my girls that they look like hoochie mammas for dressing the way they do and that they are dressing the wrong part unless they’re wanting to attract certain kinds of guys. PUBLIC school kids!! Because they get it!!

    I cannot begin to tell you how frustrated I have been over all of this and to be honest, I finally just gave up – fighting with parents who won’t back me up and ministry leaders, mainly the youth pastor no less, who won’t back me up either, I just gave up. Give me the public school kids who soak up what I say, who listen to me, who internalize it, who get it, who’s parents 95% of the time back me up, who’s school leaders back me up 95% of the time… At this point, I have all but pretty much done that – I have given up every children’s group I worked with at our church, from elementary to high school, and even a college group – I simply have no patience left to deal with it when I’ve got public school kids waiting on me Monday through Friday who want to hear what I have to say…

    We totally need a revolution amongst our ministries and ministry leaders to step forward and give their all to help our kids!! As a female, I simply have no leg on which to stand.

    This is so not a one time situation!! Thank you for posting this Mr. Schmidt – and thank you for being willing to step out and do something!!

  • Mothers not having natural affection for their babies and not nursing them and not comforting them. Dads coming home from work and then checking out instead of being a part of the family. Parents isolating themselves and allowing the children to isolate themselves via video, technology, etc. Families members living separate parallel lives and just plugging in and not unplugging together. Kids have to see Mom and Dad ENJOY God, ENJOY each other, and ENJOY working, resting, serving, playtime, etc TOGETHER.
    I agree with this letter, have struggled and do struggle with some of the things written here, and have seen things in my generation. Too many are trying to live on the edge of excess having their cake and eating it too. Contentment and covetousness is a huge problem today. The incessant rat race to pay for and maintain all the stuff to stay happy destroys any quality time at home. There’s more to it, but THANKFUL God didn’t make it hard to have our heart right with him if we come simply and turn to him. You have to believe HIM to do that.
    Mt 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
    I’ve seen and experienced a lot from this letter. The only thing that kept me from going too far was God going after me and chastening me and I responded to His seeking me. Our God is full of mercy! I have seen so many that want the love part and do not understand it has to be love with righteousness or the heart will NOT be right. The Bible never says follow your heart, but it says, “guide thine heart” Prov 23:19 and many parents are not teaching their kids how to do this because they haven’t been letting God do that in them. Ro 14:12 “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Job 28:28 “And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.”

  • Thankyou so much for sharing your heart. And as a mother of a child with alot of the same things . I never had anyone to turn to. I was put down and I hated myself,because I thought I made my child that way. So after many years of asking God to forgive me , because I thought i was bad that my child did hurt herself. I found out God forgives and Love us so much. Thankyou so much for sharing. I glad I not the only one. People let listen and care not judge and tare down. Thankyou :)

  • Interesting … Everyone is struggling with these issues. This reminds us that there ciuld be worst things. Therefore.we should be thankful. The lors.is our sheperd he will guide us threw. Its a spiritual war fare…

  • You know maybe I misunderstood the letter but after reading it again I thought to myself, sometimes after the seed is planted, then we (the kids) have to do something ourselves! I was raised in a christian home, my dad was a preacher, and I went to the christian school, and from day one I was taught about the things of God, and now as an adult, I am so thankful that I do have a solid foundation! Without the training that I received when I was a child, I don’t know where I would be. My mom and dad taught me the difference between right and wrong, but even as a child, they never forced salvation on me at all. Now as a parent, I want to be the same kind of example that my mom and dad were. I received most of my knowledge through my eyes. I knew my mom and dad were real and not fake at church and in public. I thank God for the parents he did give me, and it really does aggregate me a little to hear people talk like that about there parents, especially the way she explained it. If really didn’t seem like she had it that bad, but sometimes we just can’t depend on others and we have to pick up the Bible and decide what is the right thing to do. Mommy and Daddy can’t get you into Heaven, but they can show you the way, and it seems like they did!

  • There’s a reason that when God laid out guidelines for a Pastor and it mentions having his house in order. That means so much more than obedient children and the submissive wife!! Yes, children should be obedient and yes, proper Biblical submission in a marriage is essential, but putting the ministry first, in front of the family and saying it’s God’s will, is a lie. THAT is where we are failing our kids!

  • Thanks for sharing that brother Schmidt. My heart broke to read that letter. I agree with Terri, we will all stand before the Lord for how we stewarded our children. There have been many nights I have laid my head on the pillow believing I did the best I could raising my son for the Lord and many nights wishing I could take back many of the decisions I made and wondering why I didnt make some decisions that I should have. My hearts desire was and is that my son will love the Lord. Thank you for the part you had in his life.

  • That helped me to refocus on the target. “The Heart”. I have two daughters 3 and 1. I Pray for them everyday- This letter helped me to pray more specifically! It’s not about a religion, but a relationship! I love my girls very much. Jesus loves them even more. Hard to believe.

    My Dad used to say “do as I say not as I do”. The most destructive phrase as a teenager. Like they say, “rules without a relationship breeds rebellion”. I have no problems with the rules Christ has commanded because of a great relationship. I have no problems with the rules between my wife and I (most of which have never been uttered, but are assumed) because we have a great relationship. May we as parents show the love of Christ to our children.

  • I would like to expound on my previous post. I was replying from a phone and now am on the computer so this should be easier. The writer of the letter says “I think these problems stem from first, our detachment from our parents.”

    We as parents are our children’s first example of God. That’s how the family was designed. Notice how she says FIRST from the detachment of our parents. When I explained how from birth we train our kids not to trust us, or rely on us for there early needs this is what I was referring too. Right from the get go we teach our kids God is distant by being detached and distant ourselves. As Christian parents we expect our kids to grow up and rely on God, Cry out to him, Go to him for your needs. But we don’t raise them to Trust US as there parents, who is the first example of God in there lives. When right off the bat we are making them self sooth and cry it out. Not meeting there simplest early needs shows them that the Invisible God cannot meet there needs and must be just as distant…

    I am not saying that well meaning parents who practice these things do not love there children I am saying they are misinformed by what damage it truly is doing to long term example and relationships there kids will have with others and there God. And the damage it does to there relationship as the grow up and continue to not know how to meet there teenagers needs because they have already severed that bond that God designed at birth.

  • I love young people and my heart goes out to them in their struggles. I have two children who have walked away from what they were taught in our conservative Christian home. Obviously we did not pass our Christianity from our hearts to theirs, and I am still struggling to figure out exactly where we went wrong. Maybe my kids felt like the young woman who wrote the letter–disconnected and alone. Maybe my own kids could write the same letter blaming their disconnected parents for the sin in their lives.
    I can’t speak for her parents, but we sincerely tried to raise our kids right. We tried to spend time talking to them. We tried to protect them. We tried to show them that we loved them, but we failed. They still chose to walk away.
    I did not know what a Christian home looked like because I didn’t grow up in one. I grew up in an abusive home. I had to choose for myself whether or not I would follow God. When I had my own children, I did the best I knew how, but without actually seeing a Christian home in action, I was going on guesswork. Dear young lady, maybe your parents cared more than you realize. Maybe they did the best they knew to do. Your childhood is what it is. Now it is up to you to choose your way.

  • It is so easy to demand a certain type of conduct and to get it without ever seeing the correct conduct for the correct reasons. Thank you so much for posting this. What a great challenge written so elegantly.

  • The young lady in the letter is sincerely asking Bro. Schmidt to help youth workers and parents, but what she may not realize is that, over the years, dozens of kids in his own youth group have turned their backs on God and have pointed their fingers at him saying the same thing, “Our parents and youth workers were not there for us.” Is it Bro. Schmidt’s fault? Did he not have the discernment or wisdom to help them with their struggles?
    Maybe the heart issue that needs to be addressed is this propensity of young people to carry bitterness and point fingers. Young people watch dirty sitcoms because they enjoy them. They idolize pop culture heroes because they want to be like them. They listen to wild music because it feels good, and then they say, “If our parents and youth workers had done a better job, we would not be dealing with these issues.” Maybe as youth workers and parents we need to teach our young people to take responsibility for the bitterness and lack of forgiveness in their hearts. Maybe these are the vile, dirty sins of the heart that we are allowing to slip by unnoticed.
    God is interested in the condition of our hearts, but every man is responsible for his own heart. I do not see in the Bible where teens and young adults are exempt from this responsibility.

  • I would like to add to my post above. I hope I didn’t sound insensitive. Do I think Christian workers and parents should connect with their kids? Yes. Do I think they should be aware of the issues these kids are facing? Yes.
    This is indeed a sad letter, but to me, the saddest thing about this letter is the bitterness I sense in this young lady’s heart. The greatest struggle these young people will face is not gender identity or cutting. The greatest struggle they will face is giving up their bitterness and finding the willingness to forgive. I know, I have faced the same struggle.
    Young lady, there is a way to fix the detachment you feel with your parents. Those scars you speak of can be healed. God can fix anything. The key for you, now that you are an adult, is to forgive your parents and to ask God to help you connect with them. It is not an easy thing to do, but God can help you in this battle. You will find that when the bitterness is gone from your heart, some of these other issues will not be the struggle that they were before. I have walked this road before you. I will pray for you.

  • I read this article and cried as I thought of all the people I’ve grown up that have struggled with Christianity, I believe, as a result of parents that probably had good intentions but just lacked the character to personally introduce God to their children. I am just thankful that I grew up in a home where this wasn’t the case. We grew up with rules and standards, yes, but a relationship with the Lord was always the bottom line. Thank you for sharing this letter – it is a motivation for me as a parent to keep my focus on the things in the Christian life that truly matter and to more fervently pray that my children can do the same.

  • WOW! My mom had a friend who used to take her teenage children to church everytime it was open on the outside the kids appeared to the church as if they were living Godly lives, needless to say they all pretty much had kids before marriage and before ever graduating high school. Her friend asked why her kids didnt have babies so young, she didnt know how to answer, we looked at her and said we have more respect for ourselves then that! I think if parents showed their children how to love themselves and show your children you care they wont need sex or other worldly things to fill that void. Many times the parents fail to see their faults. My parents where strick, I grew up knowing God and I went to church on my own! The church workers showed me Gods love, but they cant be everywhere and do everything, when I went home I knew I was loved there too, we were taught to respect ourselves and other at HOME! Too many times parents leave what should be taught at home left for schools to teach. My parents were old fashion, we ate dinner together as a family, we did family activities, we played board games, we did things as a family not just sitting in front of the tv, we are better adults today because of this. My stepdad was always honest with us, he asked the same in return, my mom worked full time and spent many nights working overtime, we should have never been as as successful as we are, but we had parents who took interest in us!

  • I believe this letter goes very much to the heart of the problem in our fundamental movement. I would add, though, that although we parents have used this supposed “pursuit of excellence” from an external perspective as we raised our children and often had to face serious negative results, if the policy of our churches do not change the emphasis likewise I see 2 things that will be perpetuated: the children will remain in a conflict situation where they hear a church leadership rhetoric emphasizing what the Lord did not; and the PARENTS will continue to be ‘raised’ to promote the externals and not the internal relationship with the Lord Jesus.

  • Wow! This young lady indeed hit the nail on the head. I, as a parent, have found myself not understanding what happened with my children when I did everything right for them as they were growing up. Well…the answer I received was just what this young lady wrote. I forgot to teach the bible in my home. To teach it by example and by sharing understanding given by God. I feel that God will use me even now as I try to make things right with the older three children and while I do things differently for the younger sibling. May God’s people all grasp this reality for the sake of our youth. Amen and God bless.
    Tammy

  • I am a senior pastor/youth pastor who just found out that two of our teenagers, both females, had become involved with one another. These are real issues that need dealt with in a spirit of compassion, understanding, and help from the Word of God. The channels of communication have carefully been left open with these two girls and they are counseling with me and my wife to get through this. This young lady is trying to help us see the difference between rules/religion and a relationship with Christ. Young people need to know they will not be condemned for confiding in their pastor/youth worker, but can get intelligent, Biblically informed help from them. Our teens and children are not as spiritual as we naively think, and we need to stop being so shocked when we find out they are wicked at heart. The Bible told us that would be true. May God find the generation of seekers He desires. (Ps. 24:6, John 4:23)

  • i very much agree with this young lady. i too know exactly what she is talking about…shes right…we do struggle and our parents have no clue bc they dont know us.

  • Unfortunately we didn’t realize this until all but one of the girls were out of the house…we have spent and will continue to spend time telling the girls that no matter what their personal choices are we will love them and God will too. We backed off on some of the standards and sincerely told them we wanted them to make these personal choices because of their love for the Lord. A few made some extreme choices of apparel, we did not wince or frown. Just kept hugging and loving. These choices are proving to be short lived when they realize we meant what we said about loving them no matter what. Since then they have all developed a sincere personal relationship with the Lord.  We can see the difference in the countenance and actions.

  • My brother read this article and forwarded it on to me. Why? Because we grew up in the same type of home. The “externals” this girl talks about were such a big deal, while the relationship with our dad and our heavenly father was never addressed and suffered miserably.
    I wish my own father had “been there” when it came to showing love, and helping me through the hard issues I faced back then, because I still face them even today. I assume total responsibility for my own actions, but I cannot help but think how much easier life could have been if my parents were better prepared to deal with issues we were facing as “Christian kids” growing up in church.
    My greatest burden right now is for my own two daughters. I want to be for them the father I never had. I want to challenge myself to do things better, and to live daily and engage them personally on issues they will face in life.
    My heart goes out to this young lady, and all Christian kids who have great parents, but who are untouched because no one really takes the time to get to know them.

  • I agree that “Rules without Relationship breeds rebellion”. It is sad when parents miss the mark and think that their rules and consequences of breaking those rules are the end all. You have to have rules, but you have to have the right Relationship (with Christ)! Parents, we’re not being all we can if we don’t get this point!

    But I’d like to say that too many teenagers are looking for excuses and too many people parents and youth workers are catoring to that! Teenagers, do you really think that you’re going to stand before God and blame your parents? If you’ve been taught the Bible, than you know right from wrong, the consequences of disobedience and the blessings of obedience! Great lessons all of us can learn from this!

  • Exactly!! The author of this letter is right on!! I read Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp when my children were little and it opened my eyes to this problem in parenting. (I can’t say I agreed with everything in the book as with any book that is not the Bible) Thankfully we were able to evaluate our methods of parenting taught to us by our parents and try to raise the children to develop their own relationship with God. To do this we had to break the “old ways” and look to God to guide us. By doing this we had to keep ourselves right as well and lead by example (children can see right through).

    There are too many things that adults allow in their life that eat the time that should be spent with family…a famous saying of our Pastor…just because it is good doesn’t necessarily mean it is what you should be doing…Parents need to constantly evaluate what they are spending their time on. As parents we feel that we are providing the best Christian opportunities for our kids and we should, but we can’t miss each child’s heart in the process.

  • I am sorry to say that I didn’t teach my kids all I should have because I didn’t know how. My kids were ages..3,5,7,9,16, and 18 when I finally understood salvation. Unfortunately, our lives were in turmoil much of the time. I had the desire, but not the knowledge. Thankfully, I knew that we were a family in trouble and I remember begging God to take my kids and keep them from being like me and their father. Unfortunately, my oldest daughter was already out of the house when I got saved. She is still unsaved and she and her family are in trouble in so many ways. I pray for her and her family everyday….BUT GOD… did some wonderful work with the other five children. I gave them back to HIM when I realized that they were HIS anyway and HE was and has been faithful to take care of them. My oldest son is a pastor in Rhode Island. Next in line is a son who has also recently graduated from Bible college with a degree in Pastorial Theology and helps his brother in ministries in their Rhode Island church at this time. He is now in Ghana for two weeks with his sister and her family who are Missionaries there…Next is a son who has strong Bible convictions and is serving as a layman in our church as a Bus Captain and working in Children’s Church making a difference in young lives..Next is the “Baby Girl”..she is currently in Bible College and is currently spending 4 months in Ghana doing her student teaching as she prepares to be a Christian School teacher..and/or a wife one day. I think the best thing I ever did as a parent was to realize that I was inadequate as a parent and as a struggling Momma, I knew that I couldn’t do it alone..You see..we had a disfunctional family, like my older daughter’s family is now. The father is to be the leader, but what do you do when he won’t lead? You go to God and beg Him to help you. Father and mother..If you are confused about raising your children..Go to God..Give your children to God..Tell Him you are willing to let them go anywhere as long as HE goes with them..You have to come to the place that you know in your heart that God will take care of them..I know people who have prayed that their kids won’t go very far from them, but they are safer in God’s Will than anywhere else. I want my kids safe from the world..wherever God takes them..I miss them so much because they were a huge part of my life..but God’s work is more important than me..

  • She NAILED it! That is the same battle I fight everyday over here in NC.

    May the Lord grant us strength and wisdom to biblically teach and prepare our children on how to live redemptively in a culture full of wrong.

    Thanks for sharing this, may I have permission to re-post this on my blog?

  • I know there is already one good book about parenting, which addresses precisely the need of observing and helping children understand their own heart and their own need of God to grow into a happy life with the Lord. I have read it a thousand times (and I’ve only been a mother for 6 years) and have thanked the Lord many times for its content. I recommend it to any parent who wants to have a better insight on the responsibilities the Lord placed on us when He gave us children. The title is “Parenting a child’s heart” and it was written by Tedd Tripp.

  • I agree wholeheartedly with this young teen’s perspective, point of view and struggle in teenage and christian life. As a parent, I have seen my kids grow and want to serve the Lord. I have seen them struggle with many issues and have sat down with them many a time to view things from God’s perspective, through the word of God. The only thing that I don’t agree with is this: “Our parents took us to church every time the doors opened, and sent us to every youth activity”. Have we not been listening to our preachers? What have our preachers been telling us that another book won’t tell us? As fundamental baptists, we are “supposed” to be getting the word of God uncompromised. I do recall my preacher telling us to spend time with our families, that family is more important than anything, that if you lose your family you don’t have a ministry… If that is what hasn’t been preached, then yes, we are in serious trouble. But if that is what we are getting from the pulpit, and have made many a decision at the altar, where is the change? Are we simply not listening and following through on our decisions? That is what our relationship with Christ should be. Drawing us nearer each day. I’ve also heard from the pulpit, that children cannot be forced into wanting to live for God, let alone being saved. That is an individual struggle, that even children who are raised in a Christian home, having all the right things, have to face. I myself grew up not knowing my parents, because neither were at home. I had to discover on my own about sexuality, music, friends, life. I had a hardtime as a teen, and regret having left my home church for a while. But I came back, because there was no other safer place. And now my children love their church, and think of Sundays as the best day of the week. It is a safehouse for me and my family. And as John said, I have no greater joy than to see my children walking in the will of God. They are not perfect, but as a family, we face and deal with our day-to-day struggles.

  • All I can say is amen. I know exactly how she feels and could have written this same letter. I struggled with the same issues when I left home and felt like I was finally free. A divorce, a child, and many scars later, I was finally saved in my thirties. It wasn’t that my parents didn’t care, tey just didn’t realize I think.

  • I guess by the looks of things I pretty much stand alone here. I think this is a joke! Dad gets the blame for the girls rebellion. I have seen this happen many times in my 35 years of preaching but when it does there is something wrong at home. The home is NOT a “good” fundamental godly christian home. The home is a mess! The family is one way at church and another at home, in other words they are phonies! This kind of stuff sells books but all it really needs is strong preaching. My wife and I raised 8 kids in church. We have two full time preachers and one missionary. The rest are serving the Lord in Ind. Fund. KJV Baptist churches. There are many many many just like our family.

  • Rules without relationship results in rebellion. Every single time.

  • I don’t think that this girl is rebellious by any means. Who knows what this girl may have gone through as a child. I think she is speaking for teens that have grown up in a Christian home and things were not right. If it was anything like my home she never felt like she could talk to her parents about anything or when she tried she got shut down. I know how that feels from personal experience. When I was young I tried to tell one of my parents that I had been molested by a man in the church and that parent told me never to talk like that again. I tried to then cover it up cause I thought I had done something wrong. It happened to me again later but I never even tried to tell them again for fear of what they might say or do. They had already told me not to talk like that. Later this turned my to cutting and hating myself and I thought God hated me as well. Teens need to know that there are authorities they can go to for help with issues like these. They a REAL!!! CHristian kids face these things! They are not rebellious because of it. I can understand rebellion with some things but many times there is a root issue of something they are dealing with that comes out through bad music or things similar that makes them appear rebellious when in all reality they are hurting so bad they don’t what to do. They want to please but they feel like they never can. I applaud this girl for writing this letter and trying to get help for our future generation.

  • We agree wholeheartedly! It’s time for Christians to get their heads out of the sand. God give us wisdom to know exactly what to do and the courage to actually do it!

  • These are the same kind of people with the same kind of problems that The Lord Jesus encountered – and helped, not criticised! The Pharisee’s did not relate to Him as some here seem unable to relate to Him! Uniformity is not unity, and conformity is not the same as consecration! I have served our Lord now for over forty years, and I have only just begun to minister as He ministered. He never threw a single stone, or hurled an insult, or words of condemnation, except to those Religious Bigots who were blinded by their own righteousness! Obviously there are still some around today! It is true, Homes and Families are not what they should be today, but the reality is they never have been! There is much to be said of Godly homes and for Godly parents, and the heritage that comes along with that, but as a product of a broken home, and lost and abusive parents with misguided principles and immoral values, it was the love and compassion of Christ that drew me to Himself, and the fulfillment of that Divine purpose in my soul that moves me to serve Him – and Grace will lead me on! Satan and his demons are the enemy, not the poor lost sheep of humanity, and Satan deserves the condemnation not them! The values of God, His will and plan for me are not written on stone, or even on paper in King James english, but on the flesh of my heart, by His Holy spirit in a language that I not only understand but love….Thank you for posting this, I feel it will be very helpful to those who desire to participate in more effective ministry.

  • This was an answer to prayer…God just laid my teenage daughter on my heart today…I didn’t know what to do….Thank you so much!!!!!

  • I wanted to say thank you to the young girl who wrote this to Bro. Schmidt. It must have taken a lot of courage to share that not knowing the response that it would bring. Thank you for allowing God to use you to remind all of us what is important as parents. I’ve been married over 11 years with two young children at home, one with the Lord and one on the way. Every day I try to do what the Bible says I should do as a father, and every day I feel like I fall short. My earnest desire is that no matter who they become or what they do in life, that they will have a heart for God. When I mess up everything else, I always try to share my heart with my kids. I want them to see how much I depend on God and how much I need him in everything that I do. I hope that even though they may not know every Bible story and and may not be able to quote much scripture, that they will have a heart for God. If God has our children’s hearts; He can help with all the areas where we fall short. Thank you again for sharing; it has made a difference in my life and that of others. God bless!

  • Butterflies In A Tornado

    Everyone is deaf, dumb and blind in the force of a tornado. Even the best prepared weather-person or emergency management professional is rendered near helpless in the full force of the fury dealt out by even the smallest of tornadoes. There is a dialogue of shouting simple messages to one another. A lot of saying “huh?” Everyone hunkers down. Even the laziest person sets to work hard and smart to increase chances of survival.

    But what happens to those perfect little beauties we call butterflies? If they do not find adequate shelter for the entire duration of the storm…they are shredded. And they don’t get new wings. They suffer the rest of their lives either flying around in tight circles or crawling around wounded. They do not grow new wings.

    Most of us Americans are in an evil media storm. Surrounded with TMI (too much information) and lives that are noisy, hustled and hurried. You, the reader, may have already said a silent “Huh? to the content of this writing. Maybe you even considered giving up on finishing it. Analogy is our kids are the butterflies. You probably saw that coming. We are the goofy looking weather-persons shouting at the camera with smug confidence that our fortress will protect us. It probably will. But it won’t protect them. They saw your nutty *storm and simply emulated your actions. They are ripped to shreds.

    Yes, it’s natural to blame our own self. We proudly lived the life of workaholism, materialism, perfectionism, religiosity, self-righteousness and an amazing ego big enough to believe we could tame the storm.

    We have exposed our butterflies to sewage at every turn. Whether it’s cellphones, internet, music, movies, friends, gossip, blogs, nasty novels, magazines….long, long list continues. Environment is a huge HUGE factor in child development. Go ask the professor what part environment plays in rearing kiddos.

    If we fully blame ourself……then we get shredded. Weatherman is down. Cameraman is down. Emergency medical team retreated long ago. Now we weep and begin to crawl around or fly in tight circles in beautiful fields where we used to fly effortlessly.

  • I truely believe we are loosing are children because they are not being taught the truth in the Bible story. Every Bible story points to Jesus Christ and His love that He has for us. A Bible story with out the real story of pointing us to Jesus is just a fairy tale.

  • Unfortunately, many kids; because of their Christian upbringing and all of the preaching they have received, are too afraid to expose their “issues” to the ones who can (or should) help them the most. Lets face it….all of us have issues. As Christians, we need to be a good testimony; however, what better testimony to Christians and non-Christians alike, then to admit our shortcomings and demonstrate how the Lord is continually working in our lives to keep us close to Him. We need fellowship with other Christians when we are weak, as well as when we are strong. It’s too bad that kids shy away from their parents, pastors, and the church in general when they are struggling with “issues.” The enemy loves to see this happen, and we must not give him a stronghold. It is so sad that kids end up feeling like they are evil or a “bad kid” because of their issues. Kids, and some adults too, have the perception that it is the church and all of these “good people” that make them feel like they are bad. They need to understand that they are good and precious in the Lord’s sight no matter what they are facing and that it is really the enemy that wants them to feel bad about themselves. It is also very important to teach our children to choose their words carefully. When my daughter first started attending a Baptist school, some of the other kids condemned her when they found out that she listed to Christian contemporary music, labeling her and the music, “EVIL.” There are different views on this type of music, but it has helped our family a great deal in our Christian walk. Through the years, we have kept the lines of communication open with our children, focusing heavily on our own convictions and keeping things in perspective. Today, my daughter still listens to Christian contemporary music; but, unfortunately, many of these kids that said she was “evil” are listening to music that is far worse.

  • Thank you for the beautiful letter. I went to a larger Christian college full of rules. All the while battling depression, a fairly obvious eating disorder, self injury that I lied about and a number of other problems. Yet I was a near perfect student by their standards, receiving no demerits my last two years. A couple of years after I graduated I attended a Good Friday service at my church. For the first time it really sunk in how much Jesus actually really truly loves me. It has been about 5 years since and God has done much healing. I am teaching my little girl about Jesus but hope to really convey to her that Jesus loves her and it’s not just a bunch of rules and regulations to be a Christian.

  • I think this hits the nail on the head. It has been frustrating me for some time watching all the ‘good kids’ brought up in ‘independent fundamental baptist’ churches, once they get out on their own, walk away from the standards they were brought up with. Walk away from church, start drinking, partying, etc. It breaks my heart. All I can do is asky WHY? I fear that this will happen to my own children. I personally think that one of the biggest issues is hypocrisy in the parents. By this I mean, acting one way at church and then another at home. Kids see through us. Another is for parents not to be able to admit their faults and repent of their own sins. If it is okay for mommy and daddy, why is it not okay for the kids? Also, the writer is correct. Parents expect the church to raise their kids. I daresay that most parents don’t even know what their kids are being taught in sunday school. Another thing is our kids are BORED! It seems like it is the same thing over and over and over again. For kids that are raised in church, they get that God created the world, and that Adam and Eve sinned. As for my children, once they get saved, they want to move on to other things like the rapture, etc. They are bored in Sunday school. I think it is also a sin against our children to be put into the same sunday school classes as the ‘bus’ kids. Why should we struggle all week to keep ungodly influences away from our children, only to let our guard down at church? If the ‘bus’ kids get saved, and show that they are serious about serving God, by all means, promote them up to be with the regular church kids. I know this may sound mean, but my kids have learned and seen some pretty bad things in ‘sunday school’ at good churches, because of the ‘bus kids’. I have a heart for them, but it should be a ministry all its own. We do need our children’s hearts. Parents, don’t ever think just because you are an adult, you don’t need to fess up and repent and show your children your faults and how to deal with them.

  • This is not original to me but I have found it to be a help. As a dad, ask your children these three questions. 1. Do you know that I love you? 2. Do you know that I love your mom? 3. Do you want what your mom and I have when you get older? If the answer is yes to all three questions you have an idea that you have their heart.

  • I grew up in a Christian home, was homeschooled, and went to a popular Christian college, yet I still struggled big with sin. It was not until I read Victory in Christ by Charles Trumball (and also “Climbing” by Rosalind Goforth) that I realized how to trust Christ for victory. The whole time I read those books (especially Victory in Christ), I felt like “why didn’t I know this stuff?!? why did no one in my life show me this?!!”. I think the truth that the Holy Spirit is actually IN US helping us to be holy is just forgotten and replaced with a feeling of “as long as nobody knows about this, I’m okay.” I’m telling you, realizing it was not my responsibility to keep all the rules, but that it was letting Christ live His life through me was life-changing. Rosalind Goforth experienced the same “lightbulb” while listening to Trumball speak. She was afraid to raise her hand in the invitation because she was already a famous missionary! She felt the same way–“how did I miss this??”. She speaks of it in “Climbing”.
    It’s a real friendship with the Holy Spirit that is missing! It makes all the difference. It was like suddenly it all made sense.

  • So true! A parent can force a child to comply on the outside, but if they don’t have their child’s heart it will only last a little while. Don’t get upset by your teen’s actions when he appears to be leaving all you’ve ever taught him. What you need to be concerned about is the heart issue that is causing him to act in this way. Parents, quit worrying about the outward and focus on the inward!!! ONLY that will change the outward! God has commanded FATHERS to train their children, NOT the Sunday school teacher or the youth leader!

  • Kristy, Amen! We have followed Attachment Parenting, and it has been such a wonderful choice. We are very connected with our children. I agree with you. It makes me see so many Christians detached from their kids. I am appalled many times at the cold parenting I see, and this is a big conflict I have with Christianity. My philosophies differ so much from most Christians I’ve encountered. I am honest with my kids. I do not sugar coat reality with Christian perfection. I am a realist when it comes to life, so I believe I come off as crude to some, but I am honest. I truly believe being real and not making everything taboo “bad” is a good thing. I hope I will give my kids enough truth to decide to follow in Christ’s foot steps.

  • YES to Kristy!!! I feel the exact some way. I have a two-year-old and the detached parenting style really bothers me for the exact same reasons you stated. I always picture a Godly mother from history (like Susanna Wesley or someone) leaving her babies to cry and what a preposterous thing she would think that was.

  • I definitely understand where this younglady is coming from… My dad is an independent fundamental baptist preacher… And I attended Bible College. But I can remember my parents not having time for us because they were so busy as were we with ministry that I think we all lost sight of God’s first institution- FAMILY. I can actually recall setting up a “pastoral” appointment to tell my dad somthing… I was having trouble and needed his guidance and I set up an appointment. When he asked why I did that I replied that it was the only way I knew he would definitely talk to me… If it was on the church books. Needless to say none of my parents 6 children attend church regularly. I know of 4 at least that have very lil if anything to do with God. My brother said that my parents “religion” left a bad taste in his mouth. I guess I wish someone would have emphasized that christian teens have struggles and that sending a kid to camp is not a cure all for lacking parental guidance and love. I am not bitter I would like my testimony to inspire other parents out there to take the extra time…. My dad helped other families with their relationships while all of them in our family fell apart.

  • I don’t know how many times I’ve thought/said exactly what she said. I grew up in a good Christian home myself (I’m now 32 with kids of my own), and fortunately I did have parents who talked things out with me, asked the hard questions and taught me that it was about a relationship with God, not a religion or doing the right things. I know that knowing those things makes all the difference in the world in regards to how we raise our kids, and I see a difference between our kids and other kids who just “follow the rules”. There is nothing wrong with wanting to do right or look right, but it really is all about the heart and a love for God, as she said. When the heart is right, the attitude and lifestyle will follow.

    Thank you for posting this! It was a good reminder to us to get your eyes off how things appear and get to the heart of the matter when raising a family or when dealing with people. Everyone struggles, so don’t act like you’re perfect when you’re not, and remember to focus on a relationship with God, not just doing all the right things the right way. Appearance is only surface. The heart is what anchors you and shows you who you really are and what is really important. It’s where all battles are fought and won. Gain someone’s heart and you have them for life.

  • Josh Mayo, son of national youth speaker Jeanne Mayo wrote an excellent book called Help I’m raising kids while doing Ministry. It tackles theses same issues.
    Oh how easy it is to teach Christianity than it is to walk it. She is one of many and we’d better wake up now or it will be too late… The enemy will try take all that the can…..

  • Sad!

    God help us and our children to do our best with the lives He has given us.

    My desire to see my children turn out for Him has been strengthened after reading this letter.

  • What a blessing! Maybe this will help parents realize the gravity of the situation! I can’t tell you how much this blessed my heart! Sadly it is so true, may God help our young people, and our parents, and all those in watch for our souls! I will definitely pass this on to my family, and church family! God Bless

  • I completely agree with this letter. This letter could have been me writing it! I grew up in a good Christian home, went to a great Christian high school and a well-known fundamental Christian college. But there have definitely been struggles in my life. I’ve always been taught what was right and what I should or should not do as a “good christian.” Always taught that Salvation was by faith, but that we should “Do this” and “not do that” as good Christians. But never has it been taught to our hearts. My parents are wonderful people, but there are many things I’ve had to learn as I began to discover who I was and what I believed and why I believed it, when I went to a secular college. It has been a long, hard road, and I wish there were some things that I had learned when I was younger.
    I agree that parents need to realize that the things that need taught are those related to the heart, rather than what we should or should not do!

  • My husband & I as new Christians soon became involved in a fundamental church and school. We had a Pastor who knew the Word and taught us well. The problem, the church was legalistic. I had many “instincts” about raising my children and what was good for them, but the church and school “knew better” about what was good for our children, so everything I taught them came from those quarters. I myself wanted more freedom in Christ and another church but was afraid about being run down from the pulpit (fear, such an awful taskmaster), and I thought maybe I was wrong. We were taught more about making our children behave than loving them. Thankfully, my children are now grown and have kept out of trouble, but I know they didn’t reach their full potential with God. Many of us came from bad homes and looked to our church for guidance. We did a better job than our parents, not perfect, but we tried our best. We also had issues when young, alcoholic parents, sexual abuse, poverty, the wrong or no religous background. Now the ball is in your court. Not making excuses, but only God can fill the hole in anyone’s heart. It may start with forgiving your parents, and maybe even thanking them for trying to give you a better life than they had.

  • when I read this my whole body felt chilled and I could hardly keep the tears back. You see I am not the student or young person, I am the parent…..When my daughter , who was a christian and bought up in a christian home and her father was a deacon….. When she came to us and said she was pregrant we were heartbroken.. soon they married, he joined the army and they both took the little girl to another state, out west… Later in about 3 months she told me on the phone that she had joined a wonderful baptist church and her a nd her husband had gotten saved, which she thought she had been years before. Her husband went through college for pastoring (not a church yet _) but they are such a wonderful couple with 3 children now. I love you story and am going to send it to everyone.
    Thank you, Tom for posting this story…

  • I thoroughly enjoyed reading that letter, because it resonates within my soul! It agains proves how empty religion is without a relationship. I was challenged a few years ago by Jim Berg’s “How God’s Attributes Affect Christian Standards” which is contained in his book Changed Into His Image. The rules of my life must come from His attributes, and I’ll know His attributes by having a relationship with Him. Rules make for a polished external, but its the relationship that makes for a polished internal. Thank you again for posting this letter!

  • I’m sure that every parent, preacher, & teacher has their own flaws and failings, and I’m sure that every one of use who fall into that list could do better. I’m also sure that every child is their own free moral agent and resposible for their own outlooks and decisions–and it’s about time that we trainers started to realize that even if we could be the perfect parent, etc., we could not guarantee that the trainee would turn out to be perfect Christians. By the same token, it’s about time for young people to realize that they cannot blame their parents, etc., for how they turn out as we are all ultimately resposible for our ourselves.

  • I am ashamed to say that I am one of these parents that did not do enough to teach their Kids God’s Word. I did not know how and did not try to find out. This young person is a brave person. It’s too late for my children. Don’t make the same mistake. Show them you care by personally teaching them God’s Word yourself. We Dads are going to be held responsible for how we brought up our children. Please I implore you to, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old , he will not depart from it.” Proverbs22:6

  • Moderating Comments: I just want those who comment to understand the spirit of this discussion. The letter posted was sincerely written, not a blame game, and not given in a spirit of rebellion or unthankfulness. It was simply a cry for help that I thought would encourage parents and Christian leaders to think deeply about how we train our children. Comments that have a rebuking tone toward the young lady, or that make “church” or a “certain group of churches” out to be the problem are being deleted. Also comments that elevate sin or positions I am in disagreement with will also be deleted.

    Thank you for so many who have expressed encouraging and helpful comments. I believe there’s a lot of positive outcome that will flow from this letter!

    Sincerely,

    Cary

  • I’m so glad that this young lady had the courage to write so boldly! The church seems to cater to what the ‘world’ offers teens and children – thinking that’s the only way to keep them coming back to church.

    While these things might get them in the door, they won’t draw them closer to Christ. Wake up church, and start feeding your members the MEAT!

  • I wonder how many P.K.’s could have written this. Are you surprised? We are so busy building “the work” that we exhaust our time, compassion, and energy putting others needs before our own family. What a shame. I pray this is a wake up call to our circle.

  • Thank you for posting this, Pastor Schmidt. Even as a teacher, this is very pointed and thought-provoking.

    However, I would like to make an adjustment to your second summary question, if you’ll allow me. Instead of asking, “Or are we teaching them to LOVE God and KNOW Him personally?”, I think the question would be better-phrased in THIS order-

    “Or are we PERSONALLY teaching them to LOVE GOd and KNOW Him?”

    I think many of her thoughts were focused on the fact that she was wishing for a better spiritual connection WITH her parents, and I believe that many teens would feel the same way.

  • Wow! for this lady to pour out her heart like this! Wonder why so many teens who grow up in churches alltheir lives eventually grow up and leave the church. We wonder “what happened to them? Where did they go? They attended every service when they were young?!!” I believe this is why. Kids need to be taught what the love of God is REALLY about! Instead of teaching all the “do’s and don’ts”, they need to be taught about Jesus!
    Look forward to seeing some more books published my Cary Schmidt on this topic! Thank you goes out to the young lady who took the time to pour o u t her heart! ♥

  • 4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.[a] 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:8-9

    8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. 9 They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. Proverbs1:8-9

    15 But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit?
    And why one? He seeks GODLY OFFSPRING. Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.
    Malachi 2:15

    Talk with them all through the day. Look at how much time Jesus spent talking to His Father. Get to know them, teach, find out what is in their hearts. Ask them why they believe? Point them to the scriptures, let them fail, and then help them up. Practice loving them and model it to them.

  • I am a young mother in my early 30’s. I have watched for years as those I grew up with and went to school with and attended youth activities with have chosen to live their lives apart from the principles of Scripture. I have watched this in my own family. I looked back at our parents, who are good, Christian people who were more concerned with how we looked and acted on the outside than what was going on in our hearts and our relationship with God. I was afraid to voice the struggles that have been and still are in my heart. My view of God consisted (and consists) of a list of rules and punishment. I know there is nothing I can do to please God, but if I step out of line, I am begging for God’s punishment. I have heard messages of the love and forgiveness of God, but find it hard to believe it in my own life (apart from salvation). Yes, this is a needed topic. Parents and Christian leaders and teachers need to realize there is more than what is going on in a child/teen that is what shows on the outside.

  • Being raised Roman Catholic, I was started on the wrong path from birth with no Truth in my upbringing. I was saved later in life after following a rough path.

    After being saved, I began raising my children to love God, and to live for God. We went to Church every time the doors were opened, but it didn’t stop there. I knew it was not the Church’s job to raise my children, but my own responsibility, the Church was merely there to reinforce what I was already teaching at home. I have a relationship with God, and with my kids, and taught them that relationship. When the Church was teaching Scripture memorization (which is good in its place), I taught them that if they knew the God of the Word, and studied His Word as it says to, that when it became real to them they would find themselves being able to quote it much better. Our kids would do their personal devotions for the first hour of their day (Our youngest actually learned how to read with the King James Bible), and we held nightly Family Devotions and prayer in our home, we would gather in the living room (With the TV OFF!) with our Bibles opened, ready to learn more about God every night. We would talk about the Lord and His Word throughout the day as well. Our whole lives became centered around God and His Word. In a home we had early on, I had a big rock (unhewn) dragged into my yard, and that became our altar of prayer.

    We began home schooling our kids, which enabled us to teach them more, we made our lives about teaching our kids. We made sure they had a good education, and that Christ was centered in everything we did.

    We understood that they had issues, in spite of all of our labors, but our relationship with them afforded them the comfort of talking to us about their problems, and we turned to the Word of God seeking Biblical answers together for whatever they were going through. We would pray together about their problems. It not only helped them with their problems, but it helped strengthen our relationship with them through their problems.

    When God called me to preach, I began reaching everyone I could, and my family went with me, not to perform some religious act, but to turn sinners to a Saviour that really wanted to save them, and form a relationship with them. The only way we could be effective was to have that relationship ourselves.

    I was ridiculed by many brethren who thought I was too strict with my kids for not allowing them to participate in some of the Church events, like youth camp with mixed bathing, and teenagers who had no problem with physical contact. In fact I had a brother call me into his office and tell me: “Brother, I just wanted to tell you, I think you are a little too strict with your kids, you are going to lose them if you don’t let them experience life”, to which I simply and in an uncaring manner replied, “Sir, where are your children today?”. He went on to tell me how his son was into drugs and messed up his life… I looked him in his eyes and said, “And you think I am going to listen to you when it comes to raising my kids?” Needless to say, that was our last conversation.

    When I was in evangelism, we were thrown out of a Church over not allowing our kids to go to camp with the Church kids, because the Church kids were making out in the parking lot at the Church, and I could only imagine how far things would go at camp!!

    My family began to minister to the juvenile delinquents in jail, in which we met more Church kids then most Churches have in them.

    I remember one girl in particular. Her Grandfather was a Pastor of a Church. I asked her if she knew Jesus Christ and she said “I know who He is”, I said, “But do you know Him?” After a pause to think, she looked at my wife and I in tears and said, “Not like you are talking about.” We had the privilege of opening the Scriptures and introducing her to Jesus Christ that day! She got Saved!

    One boy we met, his face was black and blue from the beating he received in there, and he was curled up in a corner, scared to death. He was a youth directors son that had gotten in trouble. They can try to help other peoples kids but cannot even help their own. It was sad. He really didn’t want anything to do with God.

    We realized that if we could reach them before they got to jail we might have a chance to prevent it, but the Church didn’t seem to care, as long as they weren’t in their way. I actually had a Pastor’s wife tell her teen aged granddaughter who was under conviction, that I was not preaching to her, she was OK! Is it a wonder they are where they are?

    To make a long story short of our 3 kids, my youngest son will be turning 18 on Sunday. He is an honor roll student, and preparing for college in the summer semester. He preaches the gospel. He is interested in politics, and aspires to be a leader that will help America return to her God. Our middle son is married with a child on the way, he is a preacher and currently teaches our Sunday School class. Our oldest son, another preacher, is the Youth Director of our Church, he has also taken over the juvenile preaching ministry. Their home school education has benefited them. One of them took classes through Liberty University, as well as a two year degree with Slidell Baptist Seminary. He has carried and continues to carry a 4.0 GPA.

    We may not have done everything right, but we did the best we could do to teach them to know and love God with all that they are. It is still possible to raise a God loving family, it just takes a parent who loves God and their Children and would sacrifice anything to see their children love God, even their own aspirations.

  • Im speechless!, as a 21 year old and a junior in college preparing to do what i believe God wants me to do, being a youth pastor, i cant help but feel the same as this young lady! i too grew up in church and did all the right THINGS outwardly but had the wrong motives on the inside. kinda brings me to the verse in the Bible that says, “having the form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” 2 tim. 3:5. pretty soon the outwardly things will ware off and all you have is a “Christian person” that has given up on Gods will. Thank God for this young lady because she has opened my eyes for my future youth group and family.
    Cary Schmidt i have always looked at you as a successful youth pastor and i want to be able to reach teens just like you have done. i know God is doing wonders through your life and i will be praying for you! Amen? Amen! if you have any advice for me. i am here, seeking godly counsel, so that i can be better used of God. thanks for posting the letter!!

    Dustin

  • There was a great documentary called Divided. While it primarily dealt with you groups the point was really about fathers neglected their duty to train up they’re kid’s onto someone else.

  • Wow. That’s all I really have to say. What she described is so true. Parents, pastors, and youth leaders don’t know what’s going on in their own homes, churches, and youth groups. I saw me in what she wrote.

    Yeah, I have the perfect outward testimony. I was (genuinely) saved at 5, but I didn’t, and still don’t really live it. I was raised in the “rules not relationship” environment, and it did breed rebellion. I spent time listening to rock and roll music and looking at dirty pictures on the internet. From the outside, you could never tell. But on the inside, I was just as bad as the unsaved kid next door.

    This letter showed me that I’m not the only one going through this. We’re not perfect, but what we need in our Christian circles today is REALITY. We all need to take off the masks and be ourselves. Being one thing at church and another at home is not going to get you a reward in heaven, because although the pastor may not see what you’re like at home, God does. God isn’t like your boss or teacher, that the only time that you’re His responsibility is when you’re at church. We’re accountable ALL THE TIME, and I think we as Christians need to remember that.

    To the girl who wrote this: you’re not alone. There are countless others of us around the world.

    To Bro. Cary: Thank you for posting this. It was an amazing read, and has caused me to think about some things and make some changes in my life.

  • I am so thankful to our Lord Jesus for loving Christian parents, who raised me to love and serve Him–and love God’s written Word–with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. Though I have also struggled with many of the issues mentioned, frequently failing tests (like yesterday), God’s love and mercy is unending–He loves me without quitting, and always brings my focus back to Christ.
    My parents emphasized the importance of behaving as one set apart for the Lord’s Holy purposes, acting on our devotion to Him and our trust in His direction. However much we each love and serve our Lord, each of us struggles with this or that and each one needs His forgiveness again and again. Let us spur one another onward to love and good action, and let us not forget that we all need His daily guidance, discipline and forgiveness.

  • I have not taken the time yet to read all the responses, but I did come across at least one that is so missing the mark. If this young woman has bitterness in her heart, yes, it is her responsiblity, but woe to those who have made one the little ones stumble.
    This letter speaks to my husband and my cries and frustrations! The church is so quick to try to find ways to ‘reach’ these children but NO ONE is reaching the FATHERS!!!! Once again, chasing the bad fruit instead of the root. We have bought into the lie that we ‘need’ to provide all these programs for the children while the parents get out of all responsibility. We need to wake up as parents and STOP doing business as usual. Actually, the whole church does or this trend will only continue and get worse while satan is laughing all the way.

    I am not trying to be harsh with the parents, many do not know and are just doing what everyone else does. How about we close down every youth group and start teaching the PARENTS how to disciple their children, instead of dropping them off and picking them up a couple of hours later.
    Sorry to rant, my time is short this morning and this is one HOT button for us. If I could speak to the ‘leaders’ and tell them to stop the programs and reach the fathers, but here is the rub, the leaders have often times abandoned thier own children for the ‘sake of the ministry’ so they don’t get it either.
    And, if we are going to have a youth group, does it have to look like a bar???!!! How about we put away the “bait” as some pastors call it, and fish like Jesus did, with LIGHT!
    Sorry, stepping down now. (sheepish grin)

  • I wasn’t a pastor’s kid, or grew up in a family that went to Church, but my mother sent me to Church when I was a teen. I actually struggled with a lot of serious stuff that’s mentioned in this letter…Self harm, eating disorder, mental health, suicide, etc. I have been blessed to grow within a Church that acceppted me & helped me through my life trials. I wish that these serious problems which so many young people struggle with were not so foreign to Churches, because having support through them & learning that God still loves me, even then, at those times somehow God still loved me?! I pray more become aware of this…The youth & young adults need support with these.
    God Bless,
    Jacqueline

  • so… I guess the next question is… are you going to write the book

  • The negative comments toward this young lady show that she is indeed right. Most people don’t understand these problems, and they don’t understand that our Christian young people struggle with many of these problems. They also don’t understand the very important principle of a relationship over standards.

    There must be two relationships in every young persons life, and both are very important, both relating to each other.

    The young person as a young child must develop a relationship with their parents. Not a “we live under the same roof” relationship; but a “my dad and mom are my best friends” relationship. My children are all nearly grown and out of the house now, and I realize that this is a place where I really failed as a parent. I try to emphasize this parent-child-teen relationship as a pastor often, and sometimes I am criticized because I do not have the relationship with my own children that I am preaching. What those that criticize don’t understand is that it is not hypocrisy; it is hindsight. I am actively trying to build that relationship, even though I know I have lost a lot of years that should have been more fervently spent cultivating a lasting relationship with my children.

    Second, they must have a relationship with the Lord. I know I will be criticized for this, but I believe it to be true. Their relationship with the Lord will largely depend on their relationship with their parents. How they see God will depend on how they see parents. They may get saved early out of fear of hell; but they will not have a thriving relationship with God if they do not have a thriving relationship with their parents; so I believe.

    If the children have a good relationship with their parents, and they see that their parents have a good relationship with one another and with God, they are much more likely to grow up without these problems that are discussed.

    The other option is the tried and FALSE method of the years, even when I was growing up. If the kid gets into trouble, well, he must not be saved. Let’s get him “saved” again, and surely all these problems will instantly disappear.

    “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” – Eph. 6:4

    I am very thankful to this young lady for having the courage to write this letter and express what thousands of young people are screaming out in their heart, but afraid to say to the “parent figures” who live in their home, but have not listened since they were very young children.

    I am printing and passing along to all the families in our church.

    Thank you, Bro Schmidt

  • Just commented on my facebook page regarding a current worldly event Christian parents were gushing over. The response was negative. “What the world has to offer isn’t that bad…” This letter backs up what I was saying, that parents are neglecting the command to “teach them to your children…” The entertainment industry IS NOT out to help our children become better servants of Christ. I wish I could require every parent (even if your first child is still in the womb) to read the Bible, “Already Gone” by Ken Ham and Britt Beamer, and “Re-Create” by Ron Luce. Exactly what this woman is saying in hindsight.

  • I grew up as a preachers kid, spent every moment in church when the doors were open, saved at a young age but grew up my who life sure I was going to hell and so was pretty much everyone else that I knew. Since I thought I could never measure up and kind of didn’t want to based on some of the behaviors of the christians that I knew, I ran away from God. I knew in my heart I always wanted a relationship with him but I didn’t think I could be “good enough”. Lucky for me I became an alcoholic hit a very rough bottom and finally surrendered to a God that I could understand. It was still Jesus but it wasn’t the Jesus that belonged to my mother or my father. It was the Jesus that wanted a relationship with me. For the first time I found out and started to search Him on my own. I found out what He thought about me. I found out that His power was made perfect in weakness, there was nothing more that I could do to make Him love me more, he already paid the price for me. For the first time I finally began the real relationship with Him. All the other bondages that I grew up with that caused me to turn to alcohol has begun to disappear and I am a completely new person.

    Last this is not a problem that is strictly related to one particular “religion”. I hear similar stories from people from varied back grounds. Too many times people claim their “religion” and have no actions to back up their words. People need to worry more about displaying Christ like behavior.

  • I rebelled and left home at 17 after growing up in an independent Baptist church and attending a Christian school at my church. The Lord sent this sermon to my parents. After my church and parents prayed for 4 years, the Lord saved me and returned me home. I am now married to a Baptist preacher, serve in Berean Baptist Church in Springfield, Mo, have 6 children, and love God. I’m so thankful for parents who listened intently to what God would have them do in capturing my heart. http://www.biblepreaching.com/davismyson_mp3.html

  • This is just amazing! I agree completely with everything she said. I come from a very abusive childhood and with the Lords strength has made sure my kids don’t walk the same path. I do the many things she has mentioned, church activities for my kids and the entire family. But no one is more responsible than me to show and teach my children that I have a relationship with God. Being a Christian is something many people say, my mother read the bible everyday as she abused us as well as allowed others to abuse us. When people tell me “I am a Christian” to be honest that means nothing to me. I will see it in your walk, life and the words that come forth from you. To all the parents out their, please show God’s love to your children. Teach them in amazing ways about his love and how it pours through you. The world is a place that can and will devour your kids, let them know they are safe and protected in your arms. Allow yourself to mirror God’s love.

  • My parents *did* teach me to love God and I still struggled with some of those things. We struggle because we’re human.

    But I completely understand where this girl is coming from. As a teenager I saw my friends struggle with all of these issues and most of their parents ignored it or were angry that their kids were making them look bad in front of the “good kids”.

    I remember being SO angry at adults. For not helping us – because surely they knew what to do.

    Now I realize they probably didn’t. That they were scared of doing anything because it might be wrong. It might make us worse. After all, they’d raised us and here we were.

  • Your heart breaks to read this letter to hear a young woman who is hurting. The Lord did not bless us with children, but has given my husband and I a wonderful relationship with the children of our church. We are truly blessed to know these kids. I believe that our kids (in the church) today are in desperate need to see Jesus in us. Our kids today don’t see the power of the Holy Spirit in the church because the church is powerless. I live in the buckle of the bible belt (SC) and the churches do not have the power of God. We are all guilty of not being surrendered to the Lord on a daily basis. The church (individual believers) are in desperate need of revival. Thank you so much for displaying this letter and for helping me keep my focus on our kids nationwide. Our youth are wonderful and they need us to be real.

  • This was incredibly powerful and helpful to read. The Lord has brought several hurting people across my path in the last couple years in pain from many of the things mentioned in the letter. People who grew up in Christian homes that had every measurable outward standard on the outside; hurting, abused children on the inside. We can’t turn a blind eye or an uncaring heart to them.
    I would like just to say that I grew up in a Christian home with high outward standards and strict parents. But that wasn’t the foremost thing. My parents loved me, liked me, talked to me, enjoyed my company, and had a passion for what was really happening in my heart. I have three siblings. All four of us are serving the Lord. Not out of duty or fear. We were shown the real love of God and the real truth of His Word even when no one else was watching. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for being real. My husband and I are raising our four kids in I hope the same way. We want them to know we really love them and we want to be connected to what is really happening in their lives. We want them to have a genuine connection with the Lord outside of us.

  • I have long had a burden for “churched” young people for exactly these reasons. I made it through “the system” pretty well, I think, but that does NOT mean I didn’t face some issues and struggles. But it gave me an understanding and a compassion for our youth, who face so much more than their parents ever did, and receive so little guidance to navigate. The very people the Lord charged to teach, instruct, model….are absent. No wonder there’s so much falling away from the church, the Lord, anything moral. Our letter writer is correct: it’s about relationship, not rules. It’s about loving, not obeying. True, obedience is important, but it follows love, and is accomplish out of desire, not compulsion. When those who have been “required” to live by specific standards reach the level of freedom to make their own choices, they have no clue how to do that. And want to find out WHY they had to follow the rules they were given.

    Let’s get to the parents…the youth leaders…and give our young people, not only a voice, but understanding. Life in church does NOT shelter them from everything, and we are hiding our heads in the sand if we refuse to look at the realities. Will we lose our youth because we pretend they are immune, or because we think if we don’t acknowledge issues they will go away? No, the YOUTH will go away…

  • Bro Schmidt,

    I grew up in a Christian home, and in church my entire life. I look and see the many people that I grew up with and only 2 that I am aware of are in church of any sort. By God’s grace, I found a solid Bible-believing church. I look at the lives of those I grew up with, and most are a mess. I look back at my life and see how my path could have been the same. It wasn’t until I was 20 that I was ever taught anything about having a relationship with God, about loving Him and His Word. I struggled with these very issues, and I was working with teens for a few years before pieces started being put in place.

    It is very sad to see kids who struggle, maybe even in larger terms than I did at my time, with these issues. God has allowed me to have to deal with some of these issues with some of our teens and my friends in the past couple years. He is showing me that Love God & Love Others is what is so needed. Thank you for sharing. This is a convicting reminder to me of what I hope to teach those God has entrusted me with!

  • WOW… I have to agree that she nailed it! As a PK, in sorts, myself I feel like I can quote the Bible forwards and backwards but when it comes to learning who God is, I have no idea… Sure I know the Sunday School answers but when push comes to shove knowing the TRUE character of my Heavenly Father I am at a loss. I agree that sometimes parents in ministry make the focus more on the ministry of others (not a bad thing) instead of instilling the things that they are passionate in their most treasured gifts. I know this is true for me and my situation. My Dad, an amazing man, was so devoted to his ministry that I felt 2nd or even 3rd to him and when it came to God I felt it was forced and not lived in the home. I appreciate this girl for articulating this so well…something I am not gifted at. Thank you to her.

  • WOW! I can be on both sides of this. I also grew up in a strict Baptist home & at church whenever the doors were open and had to write the 10 commandments 100 times whenever I was caught disobeying it. I remember once putting a thread on my mom’s Bible to see if she really read it between Sundays. The thread never moved. Now as a mom to 10 children, two of whom have moved out on their own now (under good terms) and I see some of the decisions they make. How crushed I’d be if I’d find out they feel the same. It makes me think more seriously of the ones still at home – the time still left. Our kids have seen that our lives have not been easy (we have buried two children) and hope that have seen we have admitted we are wrong and fail and that God is our strength to continue on.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  • I have to say I was surprised when I went to Bible college 25 years ago and heard many struggling with the issues discussed in this letter. My parents, I found, were the rare exception. they taught by example and did not depend on others to do the job Goad had given them to do. I was so disapppointed by how many pastors, missionaries, and dedicated lay workers had failed to spend enough time with their children. Without the unconditional love and nuturing of the Christian home, children with the best teaching are face with near impossible struggles.

  • It IS true! And what can we do? Keep in touch with God and your children.
    My daughters are 16 and 18 now.
    And although we taught them that it’s about relationship with God and not in first place the rules, we had to learn to push through when it looked like they shut the door.
    Talks that we don’t want to talk, because it could give upset kids, have to be talked.
    Start with sharing your heart, and your weaknesses. Not if to say it’s okay to stay there, but to show them that you went through the same things.
    It helps in our family.
    And when my daughter say’s: I don’t wanne talk, go away! She means: hold me in your arms, push through because there are so many things bothering me.

    Our kids live in a world with lots of sorrows. If they don’t go through things themselves, they still are confronted with it in conversations and friends.
    God has the answers, but He also went through the same things in Jesus, He is our high priest.
    Both we have to teach and to show them in the same way Jesus did.
    That IS very difficult, but we can do it. Take time with God and your child, and don’t act as if it’s easy. Cause it’s not. Jesus never said it would be.
    Stay in the truth, always.

    In Him, Heidi from the Netherlands.

  • The letter is a step in the right direction, however, one point at the start threw me a bit. She writes in essence, that the problem is that we need to love God more. I must disagree. I think that the problem of sin and struggling is not because we don’t love God, but because we don’t realise how much he loves us. I’ve been through a real faith crisis recently, reevaluating things I took for granted and trying to see them through the eyes of a God who loves me unconditionally, and does not cast me aside, or is not even surprised when I fail.

    Christians need to stop eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (what should I do to please God, what is good, what is evil, what is right, what is wrong) and start eating from the tree of life (Jesus Christ, who is our life, Col 3:4). Jesus Christ, our life, is not going to live an immoral life through us. The problem is that we take over, and try to live how we think God wants us to live, instead of just letting Him live it.

    When we know how much God loves us, then we love Him back. That’s where it must start – not just preaching salvation, but actual love that God has for us.

    God bless

  • We did our best, we made mistakes and we loved & prayed for our children. God knows our heart.

  • This is such an enlightening letter and so full of truth. Unfortuneately, I read it many years too late. My son is now a grown adult who is struggling desperately in this world. I failed horribly as a mother and completely take the blame for his lack of knowing how to make a good decision. Yes, he is an adult and should know right from wrong by now. That however, does not let me off the hook. I am so thankful for God’s forgiving grace and pray daily that He will intervene in my son’s life and force him to live more responsibly and for Our Lord and Saviour. I have tried many time to talk with my son about what he is doing and the consequences that await him. You might be able to guess at the negative responses I get, not to mention the snears and laughs. The Bible I gave him for Christmas found it’s way to the garbage before the day was over. Yes, my heart is breaking.

    Thank you young lady for this letter.

  • This says it all!! I have been slowly starting to realize the biggest problem with church is Sin. Not that sin exists, we all know that, but our biggest problem is that no one ever wants to talk about sin in church. We always hear testimonies of past sins, and the things God has delivered people from, but no one is ever willing to talk about their current struggles. Lets face it, no matter how terrible or painful the sin that God has brought us through, and delivered us from, we continue to struggle with other sins in our life. Why is it that no one is willing to talk about current sin they are struggling with at church? I think this is one of the greatest problems within churches today. Sin has become a “bad word” of sorts in church, and is only used in certain contexts to avoid sensative issues. It is only brought up when refering to our past, or what we need to avoid.
    If I remember it correctly, scripture tells us to share our sins, and bear one another’s burdens. If anything, in today’s world where kids are bombarded with “choices”, and the “freedom of expression”, they are faced with questions that no generation has ever had to face. The “normal” of today is nothing like the “normal” of previous generations. As parents and leaders in the church, we need to step up and start these discussions so they can talk about them. Because we won’t talk about sin in church, they are to affraid to ask questions, out of fear of being judged. If people can’t feel comfortable enough to share their struggles, and questions in church, then where do they have left to go? When will we allow our pride to stop us from confronting our children, and not only ask the tough questions, but be willing to help answer their tough questions. The stakes are way to high not to!!!

  • WOW, that is so true I can say because I am kind of going through that now! Thanks for opening eyes.

  • I’ve been telling my husband a lot of these same things. I think the reasons I made the mistakes I made was because I HAD NO CLUE what I was doing, or how to handle, or what was right, or where the line was drawn. My PARENTS didn’t teach me, not really. “Don’t do this.” is not really teaching. My Sunday School teachers hesitated to answer direct questions. I wanted to make the right decisions but I found myself suddenly in a position where the right decision was several decisions back and I’d passed it without even knowing it. My parents, sensing danger, wanted to talk, to have a relationship, when openness did not already exist. They waited too long to try to build a relationship with me, and I was afraid and unwilling to open up to them by that point. To be honest, I felt like my mom was a hypocrite — she wasn’t blatantly living in sin but I didn’t see her living an example for Christ, reading and praying with a REAL relationship with God. All that I could see was superficial and casual. My father wasn’t even a believer. I didn’t want to listen to them, and I admit that. On the other hand, trying to get your kids to listen as teenagers is way to late to start if you ask me. It’s hard to speak these things because I don’t want to sound like I have bad feelings. I love my parents very much. I just want to learn from their mistakes, so to speak.
    I have no guarantees that I can do a better job than my parents did, but my husband and I have had many discussions. We have committed ourselves to 1.) teaching our kids right from wrong according to the bible, 2.) answering any question they ask with truthfulness, even hard ones, 3.) pointing them to God, living an example, letting them see me read my bible, praying with them, etc. 4.) teaching them how to love and worship and live for God, 5.) keeping the lines of communication open in the big things and the little things, 6.) letting them know we will always love them no matter what.
    I pray that we make wise decisions and that we can do right by our children.

  • WOW she really hit the mark with this one. Never until reading this did i realize how real our struggles are. I struggle alot with my realtionship with my parents… and yet i’ve been in church my whole life and Christian school all my life and heading to a Christian college! but i still can neverseem to talk with my parents about spiritual issues!!! im really looking forward to response #3!!

  • Wow! She hit everything perfectly… We’re so often viewed and described as “good kids” yet all we really are are “shells”, robots if you will, but our parents fail to see this.

  • Thank you for sharing this post. I am a parent that has lost three children to this world’s influence and I pray daily for God’s mercy and grace over them. I can not go backwards, only forward. My God is merciful and ready to forgive all those who call upon him in truth.

  • …she’s exactly right.

  • My dad was a Ind. Fund. Pastor of a highly respected conservative Baptist church. My dad was also a dictator. He valued rules and responsibility. But my dad loved me, and I knew it. He could have showed it better – that is true, but the choice inevitably came down to me.

    I went through “issues” as a teen and college age adult that we often sweep under carpets (lust, rock music, pornography, anger) and found myself in the same situation as this girl. Fortunately, my dad also demanded personal responsibility, both from himself and from all of his kids. I did blame him for my lack of relationship with God, but it was not his fault.

    Our parents make mistakes. We as parents now are making mistakes, but God gives grace. As a youth pastor now for 10 years I have seen kids come from HORRIBLE situations with parents who had nothing to do with them end up living glorious lives for God, and I have seen dedicated, loving parents torn in agony over life choices that their children have made.

    Let’s not be quick to place blanket blame on a serious issue. I made a choice to follow my God. That same choice must be made by every individual regardless of upbringing.

  • As a follow up to my comment –

    There is a great point in her letter that must be addressed. Why do current youth workers and pastors and parents assume naively the “purity” of the kids they work with.

    Spend one day in a public school with the kids and then you will have a better understanding of the TRUE issues you need to be dealing with in your SS classes and youth meetings. Things may be far less rose colored, and problems may be addressed before they get out of hand.

  • As Christians, whatever our position; parent, nursery worker, Sunday school teacher, teen worker etc. We need to first cultivate and nourish our own relationship with the Lord. As we experience His amazing love, kindness, forgiveness and patience then our relationship with Him grows and becomes deeper and more real. When we have reached this place then we are in a position to help others.

    I am in my 50’s, but I can tell you that I could have written this same letter when I was in college. Life can be lonely and scary. Most of us know it, but very few of us ever open up and talk about it. Saying what our fears are or what is bothering us is not a sin. God already knows. He wants us to come to Him with our problems.

    As parents we are an example to our children of who God is. They should be taught young that we are available to them and want them to come to us with their problems. Then we can show them that same love and understanding that God shows us. So that eventually they will transfer their dependence on us to the God we have shown them. Who is loving and mighty and bigger than any situation.

    I pray for all parents out there, because the teaching of the true essence of God is so important and starts with them.

  • Wow. She wrote a wonderful letter that expressed her heart. As a 51 year old woman who grew up in those same circumstances and who now has two daughters – one who is 20 and one who is 17 who have struggled with significant issues – I totally agree with her. I don’t hear any hate or condemnation in her “voice” at all, but I do hear her asking for the people who are supposed to be the adults to take responsibility.
    My heart was ignored as a child. My father was the principal of the Christian school, and I started out at a fundamentalist Christian college. As you can see, this is a very long time ago:-), but it had far-reaching implications. My husband and I have walked through some very dark places with our children, simply because we messed up. When I see people become defensive about what she said, I wonder why. Usually, there is a reason that relates to their own story, their own treatment of their children, or their own fear of the truth of their life. If God didn’t come to forgive us and if we can’t be needy in His presence, then what is the point? Too many Christians are intent on getting to heaven on their own merits, regardless of what they say they believe. We are needy and broken, and God came to supply and to heal.

  • This poor girl seemed to be writing about me and my husband as parents of 2 boys who were kindly but frequently told to be good Christian kids by not causing any trouble or causing people to talk badly about them. We did all the right things, as this girl described: Sunday school, church, youth group, choir, ushering, leadership, missions trips, Christian camps, Christian schools & college, home school; we spoke freely & frequently about God, we had occasional family devotions and short times of prayer, we were very involved with our sons’ churches and schools, we set good examples of a loving and secure home life, we constantly showed our boys we loved them dearly. We did all the right and good Christian things EXCEPT… explain & emphasize that all our “goodness” stemmed from a love relationship with our savior, Jesus Christ, and that it was necessary for them to have that same kind of relationship with Christ in order to be “good Christian boys.”

    As a result, one son got hooked on pornography at age 15. We never knew his struggle (although now that we look back, we can see how & when it began). It lingered at least 10 years until he finally, courageously, vulnerably admitted his sin and asked his dad to help him by being an accountability partner. That was when we parents realized our grave error in his upbringing and thanked and praised God for our son’s subsequent true salvation and growth in Christ due to his love relationship with Jesus, the Son of God. The Lord revealed Himself.

    All I’m saying is: it’s never too late to confess & try to correct our sins of omission from our kids’ lives and reestablish a truly godly relationship with them. Just because they’re older doesn’t mean it’s no longer possible. Begin where you are and trust that God will preserve them til you’re able to make things right between you, attributing your renewed desire to truly “do right” to your own love relationship with the Lord. From there, it’s up to the Lord to create the desire for salvation and do the calling, the attracting, the drawing to the Father as is described in John 6. Then your own relationship with your family will be able to grow even more. With God in charge, ALL things are possible!

    Pastor, you’re right; this letter is the saddest letter I’ve ever read too.

  • Read the Mortification of Sin by John Owen.

  • I just wanted to say how much I empathise with this letter. I am a 36 year old parent who grew up as a teen struggling with these issues. I think I was one of those youth who dealt with the issues before it became a real pandemic problem. I took a “break” from my faith where I really tried to deny the reality of Christ in my life until the Holy Spirit got a hold of my heart. I was a pastors kid, a missionary kid and I, against all appearances of “looking” good, did drugs, engaged in a homosexual relationship for four years before I realized I was wrong, am addicted to pornography and am currently a smoker. Not exactly the lifestyle you think a kid like me should grow up being involved in those things. The truth is, I felt like I had no one in my life who cared about my heart. All that was expected of me was to do as I was told. I remember in church being told that I was to do the “right” thing because I was a leader in my youth group. Did anyone ever take the time to consider how I was feeling? No. And now I struggle with many sins that I should be experiencing victory over. I thank God that I have friends today who meet with me on a regular basis to work on these issues. It has effected my marriage in a bad way. I almost lost my marriage because of my struggles. 

    I say this to emphasize the reality of this pandemic. There is Hope, Al Mohler did and interview with Christian Smith, talking about this same exact issue. He noticed that kids who have a strong parent figure and a reliable adult figure that they can go to when the parents can’t be there, the child is more likely to stick with the faith they are raised in. Fathers have a huge responsibility to be involved in the lives of their children, not Sunday School, not the pastor, not the youth director. The Parents! Get involved and learn to understand that they are struggling to cope with life. Let them struggle, but also show them that you care. That will be more theraputic to their dilemma than telling them what they should and should not be doing. 

    When Jesus was confronted with the harlot that the Pharisees wanted to stone, what did he do? He responded with how much he cared. When Jesus met the woman at the well, how did Jesus respond? He should how much he cared. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of time for moral teaching, but if it is done without showing that you care, you can bet there is an 85% chance your kids will not embrace the faith you desire. Give your kids the confidence that no matter how difficult their life will become you will be available to show how much you care.

  • I think that the most important thing is that for Christians to be in a community where they can be real and not just show their “Sunday Best”. I am not from a Christian home and was saved as a teen. Perhaps as a result, I have never had a problem talking about the struggles I faced and still face with sin. I hope that my daughter feels the same way.

    I look at God as a God of grace. If he weren’t, he sure wouldn’t want me because I have definately fallen short. I’d like my daughter to understand that grace and that she will sin, no matter what. This article scares me a bit and has given me a lot to think about in terms of how my husband and I want to raise her in Christ. I don’t want her to be in a mold that she has not chosen for herself. But I don’t want her not to know God’s love and be a part of church life either. This is a difficult balance to achieve.

  • It is a very helpful stuff! I have an 8 & 5 year-old sons which are growing in the fundamental church, too. Although both of us are busy doing business stuff & church stuff, we make sure to spend time with our kids. But after reading this, I will all the more make sure to spend MORE time with our kids. Thank you for sharing this article!

  • She nailed it!

    It is soooo… sad, but true.

    I am the mother of twelve children (yes, 12). My husband and I, thankfully, did things quite a bit differently than most parents. We were still far from perfect, but we have 6 young adult children (ages 20-26). Five of the six are passionately living for Jesus. The eldest has struggled with a LOT. He has not rejected the Lord, he just isn’t walking quite as closely.

    While my husband was a teacher (both Christian schools and public schools), we chose to teach our children at home.

    While we LOVED the churches that we attended over the years, we did NOT allow our children to be involved in every youth activity.

    While our kids were involved in public school sports, music, drama … we made sure that FAMILY was still central in their lives. That their relationships with their mom, dad, and siblings were more important than their relationships with their peers. And, we were their #1 cheerleaders at every sporting event. (Several years we had 7 or 8 kids doing Spring Sports at the same time … and we did our best to attend every event that we possibly could.) We have 6 kids still at home, and this year we will have 6 playing baseball or running on the track teams. We will be bundled up in the stands. (1 year, I drove 4 hours each way to watch 1 daughter run for 16 seconds. (the 100m dash) Yes. I did. It was THAT important to me, to show my love to my daughter.)

    We didn’t send them to Sunday School; we had them worship with us and learn from our pastor’s sermons, and we discussed the sermons when we got home.

    We took them to Bible Study Fellowship; and did their daily Bible Study lessons with them at home (and they saw us doing our daily B.S.F. lessons, as well).

    We read Christian Biographies for “History” as part of our homeschooling. But, we didn’t just “talk” about missions … no, we took them on mission trips … and we supported them when they traveled the world in short term and long term missions.

    We read the Bible together.

    We pray together.

    We read devotionals together.

    We talk about the TOUGH stuff with our teens and young adults.

    We don’t control their lives, but walk with them as we teach them how to make the tough decisions.

    I hope you’ll write a book, answering this young ladies concerns.

    Laurel
    aka: Mama of a Dozen

  • This is heart wrenching! It is so similar to what my 23 year old son recently revealed to me! He could have written this letter! I’ve heard it over and over again from so many kids brought up in good churches which teach truth. Somehow, the message these kids are getting is that we only love the ones who follow all the rules to a T.

  • Great post Laurel…..my wife.

    From my view point I’ll say this. There must be a balance between parenting and relationships with your kids. They go hand in hand. I desire my kids to walk hand in hand with God in relationship. But I must walk in relationship with my kids, talking openly about my relationship with God. No smoke and mirrors. Straight up honesty. Then must see us in action with God.
    We parents must be real with our kids. We need to discuss our faith walk with our kids, that means the things we as parents struggle with.
    Remember it’s not about us….it’s about being open and honest with our kids about our own struggles in our faith walk.

  • As the teacher of our Kids’ Future Church- ages 4-12- God has directed me to teach lessons about our ‘hearts’ for one year now. Proverbs 4:23 “(You) Keep (Guard) thy HEART with ALL DILIGENCE.. For out of it … are the ISSUES of LIFE” Using Christ’s ‘GREATEST COMMANDMENTS’ (You) LOVE the LORD your GOD with ALL YOU HEART, SOUL, MIND, & STRENGTH… & YOUR NEIGHBOR as yourself… Key verses… I remember hearing Becky Pippert saying on a radio interview that it was her DAD who gave her a ‘heart’ for God. At the time, I wondered at her words… But Scripture has MUCH to say about our hearts… I heartily recommend “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” by Tedd Tripp as well…

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  • I know that many people have said,”wow”! I have been thinking about this letter for four days. I have read this letter three times. Praying and thinking about it at 3;30 in the morning. So thank you for posting. It has pulled at my heart strings and bringing me to my knees. Our teens and older teens are our future. We need them not to be strugglling with these things. However, we are human and fleshly. We take things for granted, we are all selfish, and we all want what WE want-sadly.
    Our children are 14,12,9,4,and 2 months. I worked as a Christian school teacher for 11 years. I now stay at home with my children and my husband is in the Us Army. He has been deployed three times. I believe our children have come to value life and that it can be taken at any time. They know that God is good all the time no matter the trial.
    My father was killed when I was a baby. I don’t have a picture of him. I do not have any knowledge of him. I am too concerned about my mom to ask about him. My mom was in the medical proffesion and we went to the hospital on pretty much all of our school breaks. Except when my aunt and uncle would take us camping during spring break.
    I tell all of this so you might get a picture of my-our situation. I dont think what the profesion is matters. I think that if you give your children time and they know they can come to you about anything is a great thing. I say this humbly, because God knows the future for our children. My husband has told our kiddos why and not just what the rule is. I value his input with our children. God has given me a good man with much knowledge regarding the Scriptures. He is still very connected with our children (thank God for technology) even when he is deployed and whatever the “army” brings him.

    I know from experience that time does matter. Time for God, time for our marriage relationship, time for our kiddos. As Proverbs states, ” A false balance is an abomination to the Lord.” Balance is a hard thing. I am finding that out. My husband and I went to a Christian college and found out people did have time. Teachers, friends, and God did really protected me as a young Christian. I now know that there were students that really had a hard time-obeying. I was so thankful for the rules and wanted to obey. I wasn’t perfect.
    In conclusion, I think Satan wants to confuse us and get our eyes on the wrong thing. We are all living in a very real spiritual battle. As my husband would say, ” We need our armour on and many trigger verses! “

  • Sad.
    But true.
    Problems of any kind stem back to creation where it began in a garden. It started with disobedience. I seem to remember some historical, biblical people having problems raising their sons. I’m thinking of Cain & Abel for starters but the list goes on.
    We’re still having child rearing issues all over the planet. People were raised incorrectly as children and they grow up to have babies and raise them in a similar or worse fashion, depending on what scars their parents left them with. Then they go to school to be scarred by others who are scarred as well. And the circle of life as we know it continues on in this way. Dare I say that this young college student will probably get married, carry issues into a relationship where the spouse has issues too, have children, try to raise them correctly and come up short somewhere along the line as a parent too?
    Clearly, the people on earth are dealing with unseen things. Ephesians 6:12 clearly teaches us this. We are dealing with the unseen Satan and his demons, but we are also dealing with our own human hearts. Not the beating organ that sends blood through our veins, but “the heart.” Jeremiah 17:9 teaches us something about our heart condition. And most of us have a “bend” that we are born with. Add to this recipe, parenting, whatever that means to people.
    Over my years of observing people around me in the churches, schools and the workplace, and what I know about God’s Word, it really boils down to one thing. The heart. That’s simply it. What condition is it in? If we seek after God and daily try to do His will in all things, our “hearts” will be on the healthy side. If we go our own way, then we have heart problems that we are all too happy to share with those around us. Especially those in our own homes. Most people I know need a heart transplant from God Himself. This is my understanding of the way it should be according to God’s Holy Word. Please tell me if I am wrong. Jesus is the head of His church. Godly men of the church are next in line under Him. They are supposed to be the spiritual leaders and teachers first and foremost in the home with their own families. I hate to bring it up but I’m observing very few real men anymore. The ones I know personally have heart and backbone problem and I actually believe that is where the “root” of the problems are. Beginning with Adam and his backbone problem. Some of the men I see sitting in my church pews today are more concerned with their tattoos or piercings, hair coloring or cut. Some of the men in my circle seem to have a driven agenda. They try to outdo one another in popularity and in Biblical knowledge. They are backslapping, handshaking buds in the hallways with their perfect appearances and legalist children. These families look down on others and they stay tightly snuggled into their cliques. They are the teachers, deacons and leaders of the church who raise themselves up. New people come through the doors and do they receive a welcome? Yes. Befriended even. Then promptly dumped if they don’t fit the “perfect- mold.” Most of the leaders in my church are pitiful in my mind. There are only a few in the church that I attend that I would actually call “Godly men.” That’s it. Mr. Tattoo, Mr. Ear pierced or Mr. Baby Christian comes through the door and gets left to grow or not grow alone. Many simply slip right out of the church. I’m left wondering, why aren’t we doing God’s will here? Why aren’t the backslapping, heartily laughing “men in charge” reaching out to people outside their social club? Welcoming them, taking them under-wing? Discipling? Really leading from a God point of view? Many of the women I know are the spiritual leaders in their homes. And I know many families who simply go to church on Sunday and put it out of their minds for the rest of the week. And you have the children in the mix. The most precious and innocent of all of our belongings. You’ve no doubt heard that children are like sponges? It is truer than anyone realizes. Many women work outside the home. We drop our children out of eye shot into public schools. They become “indoctrinated” and taught from secular, humanistic curriculum and essentially raised by their peer group. Homes become unruly; the family becomes separated, each one living out life alone yet together under the same roof.
    In a nutshell and again I say it’s the human heart. If we parent, we need to parent with our whole hearts devoted to God first and we need to pass that to our children. Even if we have an uncooperative spouse, do it anyway. In this way, the spouse will learn as well. Men need to have a heart for God first and lead their families according to His will and Word. Women need to follow the Godly leadership of their husbands. And Godly people and children need to learn to respect one another in and outside of the home!
    I know I’m rambling, but I’ve been on the planet for 50 years. The last 15 or so I have REALLY learned to observe. And this is what I see. Have the heart enough to be loving, giving and unselfish. Especially with your time! It’s unselfish time spent with your children and others that is really going to change the family dynamic which will then spill over into the rest of this pitiful rock we live on. Then who knows what will happen? God does! Go God first into the world and love! And if you need heart surgery, ask the greatest physician in the universe. He’ll do it with NO scars and free of charge! Ask and you shall receive. Lastly, I leave you with this verse from God’s word to look up.. Romans 12:2
    <3 Jodi :)

  • That is EXACTLY how I feel. My parents forced me to go to church even when I tried to tell them that the other teens there did drugs and drank on the weekends but were “perfect angels” at church. They never really took the time to know me and see where I was in life. Now I struggle a lot with my love of God. I worry at times that I believe some of the things I do only out of fear and not a love for God.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this! I am now following this blog and researching the book options you have available. I am a parent of three that is searching for more realistic, day-to-day advice on how to raise Christian young people. There isn’t enough help in the other books I have read and we, as parents, need more resources exactly as this girl from the letter has described! I grew up in church and there is so much that I am still frustrated with. I hate that there are people who focus so much on “playing the game” that I STILL feel like an outsider after years of Christian conservative conformity. I would love my kids to know how to have a relationship with God and feel that this letter and this blog have really touched something within me to keep fighting for that. I want them to know so much more than just how to wear a certain thing or how to sing a certain note. Our kids need to know the love that God has for us and we can be the best teachers! I love them so much that I am willing to do everything I can even if it makes me uncomfortable or is misunderstood by some of my fellow church members. Pastor, please right this book asap! We all need it, not just the teens. We parents need to sort these issues out too…..they don’t just go away with time. A million thank yous to this brave girl who shared her heart.

  • Altough I am nearly 50 years old, have had 4 children and 1 grandchild, I could have written this letter as my own. This young girl and I share a lot in common. However, I look at my life today and see the love relationship I have with my Lord. My love for Him is my greatest ambition in life; because of His love He has so graciously manifested to me over the years. Yes, as this girl my life had many struggles that you would think should not be in a Christian home. And yet my marriage proved to be no better. But through the years God turned all the bad into good, all the pain into purpose, that I wonder, if my life had been any different, or any better, would I love Him as much as I do today? Would I have the compassion for people who suffer? Would I live my life to help others as I do now? Would I be as passionate about my Lord and serving Him as I do now? If the answer is ‘no’, then the pain and suffering were worth it all.

  • How incredibly sad, and true! We must have the hearts of our children. The first thing that must be addressed in the lives of our young ones is the same as the first thing that we must address ~ SIN and the Separation from God that comes because of it. Wonderful books for parents of children and teens are the ones written by the Tripp brothers ~ “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” by Tedd Tripp, and “Age of Opportunity” by Paul David Tripp. The first priority is leading our children to the Throne of Grace and leading them daily back to it! We ought not to leave the souls of our children to the *professionals*…God gave the spiritual responsibility of them to us! HE promises to give wisdom for the task as we seek HIM for it ~ James 1:5. Might we all seriously consider Who we serve and seek HIM for the help we need.

    Many blessings,
    Camille

  • Wow – what courage it took for her to write that letter! I have to say she is spot on. I used to teach at a conservative Christian school. Let me first say no school is perfect, and I think this one does a lot of things right. But I came to realize Christian environments often focus on outward actions and not inward heart matters. I remember one day a teen came to school late becauase he had testified in his uncle’s murder trial. He was wearing a hoodie, which was against the dress code. I remember a teacher coming up to me and proudly asking me to address this student and give him a demerit. Uhm, hello? Sure, it’s against dress code – but bringing this up right now – isn’t that against God’s code of loving others and showing compassion? It made me angry. In my Bible class I had multiple students come to me and admit they struggled with pornography. But I couldn’t send them to the youth pastor because he had told them before that they were “bad kids” and t hat they had to guard their testimony…after all, what will people think? So here I was with a dozen student struggling with porn, and no where in the Christian school to turn for help. I think a TESTIMONY is showing how God changed you and continually helps you in an area of sin…not acting like you never had sun in the name of “what will people think” and “your testimony.” In Malachi the Bible says that false worship is so hated that God would spread dung on our faces. Strong, huh? So actions without heart emotions is what we should be worried about. Stepping off my soapbox now.

  • As a first-generation Christian, as a former youth worker, and as a parent struggling to glean some Titus 2 in the Church (at one point before we got any, and now that we’re removed from that home church and serving the Lord elsewhere), I can say that the truths shared here deeply resonate with me. Our God has ALWAYS been a God after the heart. The Pharisees missed God’s heart while holding to the Law. I grew up in a messed-up home, but it’s no more messed up than a home full of “Christianity” and still devoid of Christ. When I worked with youth in a couple of different churches, they would bare their souls to me! I tried to disciple some struggling girls who would open-up to me, to no avail, in the end. I learned that I CAN NOT fill the void of a godly parent. God’s design was for parents to walk it, live it AND preach it. Duet. 6! Our Lord is very real, and so many distractions (the World- in the home, in the society and in the Church) blind and cripple us. I feel so sad for the youth of today, and perhaps especially for those living in homes where the parents are so desirous to protect their children, and yet having no understanding of how to truly do that. We need Titus 2 in the Church, people! We’re losing generation after generation!

  • I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, but now as a husband, father of 4 and a pastor I realize that I know very little about raising godly sons and daughters and how to teach the parents in my church to do the same. I appreciate the books and materials that Bro Schmidt has written. I want to recommend one of the best books on this subject. It is “Family Driven Faith” by Voddie Baucham Jr. He is a Southern not Independant Baptist, but it is very good. My wife and I are reading it together right now.

  • Too much “playing church” and thinking that all those programmed activities are going to make and keep our kids Christians. We have 3 attending Christian Colleges and depsite daily chapel and tough sermons, good intentions, I’ve not many genuine kids. Most are good at putting up a Christian facade when needed and turning it off and looking just like non Christians in the blink of an eye. Suicides, depression, morality, all plague Christian colleges. They dont look any different from secular schools expect chapel which is tolerated, not digested. The peer pressure to be worldly and “cool” is nauseating.

  • Wow. I couldn’t have said it better myself. We were commanded to DO. It was forced down my throat, and questions asked were treated as “rebellion”, even if they came from a sincere heart. I thank God that he broke down the walls I put up because of the treatment I recieved at church, school an home. I am glad He saw my bleeding searching heart. I pray that every child that grows up in the church will be found by God Himself, and when that happens they will be more on fire knowing the truth of His love is greater than ‘doing things perfect’ by man’s standard.

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  • I wrote God a letter a long time ago, I still carry it in my bible, may mean something to someone. Who are you God? That you could know my pain and my hurt,much less understand. When I run I fall, is it really you that risks me up, my life is full of hardships and I should give up, is it worth the frustration it causes, my heart aches over the troubles I’ve caused, the disappointment of others caught in my wake, so why do you love me, what worth can you find in me that I can’t find in myself. can’t you find.someone who has more promise, more potential. Why me God? I’ve left a trail of broken lives behind me, will you show them mercy as well? I do believe in you Lord Jesus even though you haven’t always been my Lord, but how can you believe in me when I’m the one who let’s you down. Maybe, you do understand my pain, my hurts, my failures, maybe that’s why you keep giving me another chance, so give me the faith I need. Make me worthy of the love you’ve shown for me.

  • This really hit home. How am I supposed to get help if I’m being bombarded with people telling me to wear dresses, and get rid of my friends..If it’s not n my heart it’s only going to last for a short time. It’s like a person who does drugs for a temporary escape or cure from pain or reality. This is serious. I’m saved but have no depth to any type of relationship with the Lord.. I know of him, but don’t KNOW HIM. It’s the most empty/numb/sadness anyone could ever feel. a Christian chained by fear or humility of what others might think. I need HELP too!!!

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  • At the beginning of t he comments, there was a quote that had a word left out and that changed the entire quote….here is the corrected quote,

    “Rules without relationship breed rebellion!”

  • Pastor Cary, I’m looking forward to seeing you as a speaker in the July 11th conferences – I’ve already pre-marked a couple of your presentations that week!

    It may not go into this blog, but perhaps in a separate thread, you could address her very specific question: “What would you do if you found out that one of the kids you work with was a homosexual?”

    My background before my assistant pastor position was 10 years as a middle school science and English teacher in public schools in Phoenix. I’ve dealt with the situation; but would be interested in your perspective of counseling as an experienced youth pastor.

    V/r,
    Pastor Gene Noel
    Maranathabc.org

  • Thanks for posting this letter. My first response is that blaming our parents for our own heart condition is a cop out. Some of us weren’t raised in church at all and our parents didn’t teach us anything about God, and yet we love Him. On the other hand, I can understand where this young lady is coming from, and as a parent of 4 I strive to make sure that I still have my kids hearts. Thanks for the article.

  • Regarding the dichotomy between rules and relationships I would submit that all close relationships generate rules based on the likes and dislikes of the participants. I have been married for over forty years now and I know my husband wants his socks folded a certain way and he doesn’t like spinach. If I want that relationship to stay on an even keel I observe those “rules”. Sometimes when the other party is another human being and their likes and dislikes are difficult to conform to, issues can be open to negotiation and compromise. When the other party is the Lord Jesus, He is always right and I need to conform. In His word he tells us what His likes and dislikes are. I suppose you could call those “rules”. No serious relationship would survive very long if one or both parties completely ignored the other one’s preferences.

  • Honestly, I read a letter like this and it discourages me even more. I’ve been a parent for 12 years a born again Christian for only 4 years. God has been laying this type of thing on my heart for a while. I so want my kids to have a relationship with God not just Sundays and Wednesday nights but 24/7.
    But I struggle with how to teach them that they need a personal walk with God. We do the family devotional thing,memorize a monthly verse,and pray,but I get discouraged because I don’t know how to do more than that.
    I’m sure this probably doesn’t make any sense at all.

  • Very thought provoking. Makes me exceedingly thankful for my godly parents who constantly focused on the heart. My dad is one of the most humble men I know and i know that his willingness to share his struggles with us, and how the Lord gave him victory, was one of the greatest impacts on my life. “My son, give me thine heart” was one of my dad’s greatest mottos, and the Lord helped him to know how to get the hearts of his children!! Praise the Lord!

  • I read this letter and I know exactly what the young lady is talking about in her letter. Even sadder than what she had to say is the fact MANY types of abuse happen in Christian homes. One abuse you don’t hear of us is spiritual abuse but never the less it exist especially in men of the cloth homes. A victim of multiple abuse including spiritual abuse by my dad a minister of God.

  • Wow. She really nailed it. I understand where she coming from with all that! It’s so sad that many friends that I knew who were raised in a Christian home never show up at church anymore. We teenagers always need prayer because we struggle with so many things.
    Thanks for the post, Bro. Schmidt! :)

  • Saw this posted on a friend’s wall and thought I’d check it out. Wow, is that girl right on. Dead on. And I came to the same conclusions myself. Why didn’t they teach us to actually LOVE God? Why is that something we have to fight to find out for ourselves? Only a few of us actually end up going through the trouble to find out. Amazing insight. She articulated her thoughts perfectly. I’m reposting the link to this letter on my Facebook wall as well.

  • I feel as though I, and many of my friends could have written this letter also! It is right on!! My prayer is that my generation can get over their bitterness, and hate, and not make the same mistakes with their children!
    So, many parents don’t realize that it’s not just about rules. I mean if we don’t have a relationship with Christ we are not going to do a very good job of keeping His commandments. The same is true with the parent/child relationship. You can’t expect your child to listen to a thing you say if you don’t take the time to build that relationship. Thank you so much for posting this letter. This is the cry of so many young people today…

  • I am saddened at this letter but not surprised. I am 32 and remember many of my church-attending friends struggled with many of the issues and they went to my mom, not their parents, for help. They didn’t go to their parents because the parents lived with all this in their own lives and so they didn’t truly see any different between “Christians” and “un godly”. My family was different we lived our faith and loved our God. My mom and dad were one of the few parents who had me surrounded by all the church stuff and ministeries but also taught its a realtionship with God. My sister and I still serve God to this day and although we were tempted at times in many areas we stood strong. I am glad this young lady stood up and said something. I am so grateful for my parents and family for standing strong and teaching us what a true realtionship with God is all about. I pray that many will read this letter adn become aware of their children and teach them to LOVE God and have a realtionship with him not just a religion.

  • this screamed loud and clear, ‘the letter of the law kills, but the spirit gives life’
    focus on external things, to achieve internal righteousness leads to guilt, shame and endless failure. however, trusting in God’s unfailing love, and Christ’s righteousness FOR us brings peace. behavior modification is not what Christ was all about, reconciliation despite our sins was what he was all about.
    having left behind my own ‘salvation by works’ relationship with God and fully trusting in Christ alone, i can say now better than ever before that i am at peace with God. and although my parents believed this truth of grace, the traditions of church and outward acts of ‘holiness’ sent a much louder message. this was the message i heard, that God’s love was contingent on my good behavior. it was not until i started breaking the rules that i realized that my own parents loved me for me, and not for how i acted and that God is the same way.

  • We don’t need to teach our kids to love God, we need to demonstrate that God loves them through us. We do not need to figure out how to accept the immature behavior of developing people, we need to tell them that they are already accepted by God. We do not need get them to change their behavior so that God will change His mind about them, we need them to change their mind about how God already loves them unconditionally. We do not need to convince them to believe in God, we need to convince them that God believes in them!

    To the young lady who wrote the letter, You are the very special child of God. You were specifically picked to be adopted by Him even before you were born. You are exactly who He wants. He could not be more proud of you and often says to those around Him, “Look at her, isn’t she amazing!” He loves you more than anyone ever has or ever could.

    Once you can understand that the above is the absolute truth about your life you will be transformed. Until that becomes the reality in your life you will suffer doubts and live so much less loved then you need to

  • You can be a Pharisee to your own children….

    A little leaven will leaven the whole lump either way…hate..you have your reward…love you have the greatest reward…

    When the Pharisees used to dog Jesus for answers and try to “catch” him in faults so that the law could be mixed with …grace (can’t happen btw) and they could go on business as usual…Jesus always sent them back to there law…where they had there reward…self righteous, counterfeit and a cheap version of love…”you have your reward” says Jesus…Those legalistic folks were always searching the law to find that noose to put around peoples necks…it was the reason Jesus came…to undo that picture of God…and most of the time we Christians stare more at the bad fruit on the ground…then good fruit growing and flourishing in the world around us…hyper focused on sin …that is a fact. It harms families and children when you have no love and only law…words become sounding brass..tinkling symbols…

    I love it when Jesus is teaching about the ground you are in. Of course in Church we are always taught to look at what ground “our neighbor was in…” For the last 10 years I have read nothing but the Gospels figuring that if this Jesus guy has stuck around in the mind and hearts of folks for all these decades it might behoove me to get the “spirit” of this man I am suppose to be following.

    So, when I read the story of the ground …and I also realize that Jesus is talking to ME…about what kind of ground I am in that houses this loving and life changing message of love, I see that I have some responsibility hearing these words of love by asking myself…”What kind of ground am I in?”

    Does love come and find me thorny…dry ..full of weeds? Does this message stay for a moment and then then the cares of this life choke it out…making this all about me and my feelings that are fickle by nature? etc etc… You know the story…however what I take away from it is that Jesus isn’t just indwelling in you and taking over so that you love on auto pilot there is some responsibility to learn to walk in love as we walk out this life…and most importantly to our children…wouldn’t you think?

    The problem I have found in myself first…(big log in my eye) is that I am not aware of what ground I am in and walking in love takes spending time with the one who loves me…hence my decision to only read the red letters and the Gospels for the last 10 years.

    Most Christians don’t ask themselves about there own ground…or take a look at the seeds of love Jesus is trying get growing in us…and we who are shedding the skin of religion and separatism…need his love the most…and our children need it from us even more….if love can’t make the change…tell me what will?

  • I’m in my early 50s and this took me right back to my youth with my parents, growing up catholic where everything we did revolved around the church and school. It wasn’t all bad, but I do remember the mad stuff in my head and how I hid it all from my parents, and how they had NO IDEA what I was going through.
    And even now I feel guilt for the craziness that I went through for years and I think why was I not like the rest of my family?
    This letter nailed it so well – I’d forgotten what it was like!!
    Thanks for posting it

  • I was a teacher in a Christian school for eight years. The truth of this letter really rings true with me. The year that I left teaching there, the pastor brought in an evangelist who preached “thou shalt not” to the kids. He heaped condemnation on them to the point where I was deluged with questions. I disagreed with the approach of this evangelist and tried to show them the love of God in both my words and actions. The result of the visit of this evangelist was mass confusion in the school. No wonder so many good Christian kids bail out when they get older. We as teachers, parents, and adults should be teaching them the love of God by both word and example.
    In reading this letter, I feel that I could have done more as both teacher and parent. I knew damage was being done, but I didn’t realize the extent of the damage.

  • I just want to say I know exactly what she means as my story is similar to hers. To all parents and youth workers that read this please pay attention to what she has said for it is something that rings true for many of the “good Christian kids” of our generation, especially those whose parents are very involved in ministry. (I say that because I am the child of missionary parents and know many missionary kids and their struggles).
    And If there is one thing I have learned in the short time I have had a relationship with God it is that the real life stories of a growing relationship with God that really matters and are most helpful. Not the “you must do…..” and “you shall not do….” and “the bible says…”

  • being raised in and around similar circles so much of this letter resonated with me~ so grateful that God is bigger than our past and that He gives beauty for ashes.

    the biggest thing for me now, was the sobering conviction her words evoked as a mom to four kids. asking myself if my kids can see Jesus daily alive in my life – knowing that it has little to do w/ the words i say, and all to do w/ the ones i LIVE.

    thanks so much to whoever wrote this! we need to hear more of these testimonies to wake up our calloused hearts as Christians~

  • This letter is too true! I was one of those kids. I still struggle with things in my life because of this issue. Parents, please talk to your children and teens. Don’t assume because you’re shoving godly wisdom, teaching, advice, etc. into your child’s life (through christian school, youth group, home school, the home, etc) that they’ll turn out right! It’s time with them and finding out what THEY are thinking! You can guide, encourage, show scripture for, and pray more effectively if you know THEIR thoughts and THEIR heart on issues, not just assume they think exactly as you do, because they never voiced differently or voiced their questions on issues. PARENTS: On behalf of all “church kids” out there, “THANK YOU”!

  • So much truth! A friend of mine recently told me about this letter. We have come to the point where we think that getting kids to live a certain way, but they will never “get it” until its in their heart. We need to return to authentic Bible Christianity. I believe that the Lord is doing something in our land. There are many that are starting to see that we must emphasize our relationships with the Lord in our own lives.

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  • You mentioned at the recent youth conference when you were reading through this letter that the Bible DOES command the church to teach children. Were you referring to Titus 2? or are there other verses you had in mind? Thanks and praying for you.

  • My heart feels for any young person dealing with serious sin issues in their life. Sadly, I have heard many pastors and Christian leaders use this letter as their support for the fact that Fundamental Baptist Churches need to relax the rules and put all focus on the relationship with Christ. I was saved from an ungodly home at the age of 15 (my entire family was saved within a 2 month time frame). I can tell you that failure to speak of and preach Godly standards is a recipe for distaster concerning young people. Young people lack discernment and that is our job as Christian leaders–to give them direction. I hear this exact “letter” spoken by many of my friends, even Christian leadership today. I say, you WERE taught how to have a relationship with God. If you chose not to have a relationship with God, DO NOT blame your parents, your Christian school, your Christian college. Because you chose to focus on the rules and not the relationship is not the fault of those around you.

    I do agree, however, that it is important to teach Godly standards (I refrain from calling them RULES) and how to have a relationship with Christ. For a fruitful life, both things need to be present. From my experience, the deeper my walk with Christ, the more desire I have to live a life that is less like the world. Changing the Christian church into a place where “relativity” is new way (meaning each person discern what is wordly to them and the church stands for nothing) will destroy our effectiveness for fulfilling the purpose of the New Testament church–reaching the lost for Christ.

    I sympathize with the young lady who wrote this letter; however, this same sentiment is being used as an excuse to cast away Godly standards and what they have been taught and to shift the blame for their choice to neglect a relationship with Christ. It’s time we all start taking responsibility for ourselves. We each will stand before God to give an account for what we have done with what we have received–no excuses will be granted.

  • This letter is partially true! If a kid is hearing about salvation & G0d’s love towards mankind, if the gospel is preached correctly, and if the parents & elders are practicing what they’re preaching, then most of the blame is on the kid himself! No one can make someone love from the ‘heart'; it is that person’s own desire. True that parents SHOULD spend a lot of quality time with their kids, but the ‘heart’ has to be in it :)

  • I did not grow up in a Christian family. but i was saved at an early age. truly, we put too much emphasis on being outwardly perfect, but inside are moral struggles that were afraid to confide even to our closest friends in church. I have experienced this too, but God made a way out for me. The experience made me realize that its really the love for God that matters. coz if your heart is right, good works/behavior follows.

  • I deal with self harm and hopelessness and love Jesus and attend church every Sunday as well as Bible study on Fridays,devos/daily personal time with God,and the occasional Weds night youth group,and . I’ve made progress in this area and have sought counsel from a few youth group leaders and Christian friends(even my mother sorta knows,but she doesn’t think professional counseling is a good idea)..but am scared going too public about it will “discredit” the church as a lot of it has to do with being hurt by other Christians (as well as perfectionism in every area of life.) People-Christian and non Christian-probably have no idea I deal with such issues. I also agree the church has become too works-based

  • I’m just so glad, so relieved, to know that it’s not just me…

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  • Thank you for this post! It really makes me appreciate my.Dad who had to raise me and my sister all alone. He was always there for us and he is still a wonderful godly example! His Christianity is real and he shared it with us :)

  • This is exactly how I feel. I don’t have the problem with the sex, porn or anything like that. I have the problem that i have been tought that it’s the list of rules not the relationship. I want a relationship with God. And it all started this summer I was talking to some of my friends and god began to work in me and I got saved on July 1st but i don’t know if I truly did get saved. I go to church sometimes but I go by myself because my mom has to work and my dad and sisters stay home but don’t get me wrong I have a great family. Anyway most of the time I have to get up Sunday morning and say okay I havnt been to church n a few weeks I really need to go even though I don’t feel like going and the same thing with reading my bible I mean in my heart I want to read it but the world tells me why should I do that. I’m lost can someone help me out?

  • This says perfectly what I have though and felt for so many years. When I tried to talk to my parents about it, they just told me that the devil was at work and we weren’t doing the right things and that by not doing right, we were letting the devil in. Then they asked me if I was even saved. That really hurt. Like a deep stab to the heart. I don’t want my younger siblings going through what my brothers and I have. Please write this book. My parents need to read it.

  • I am SO proud of this special, young, lady for writing this letter. Sad, it is, but is something that has needed to be said for many years! One “small” additive from my experience, closely to this, it seemed as though those from the “strongest” Christian families, Pastor’s/teacher’s etc., were also “exempt” from these types of issues but those from non preacher/teacher families were often “accused” of not being saved and having Jesus in their hearts. Therefore, at times, it would cause one to repeat the motions of “getting saved” in hopes of getting the leader’s off of their backs. If they only knew what was really going on inside of most. I now share my comment to this letter being posted on Facebook….”TOO good not to share! I SO felt every word of this and have grown up with many.The way I looked at it…they were just like the “rest of us”! “Normal”!! The other part I saw clearly, the “signals” that many missed and only added to the kids’ inward issues! I’m thinking it’s ok to be real here, now we are all older….at one school specific…it drastically changed after God moved the “initiator’s” of said school, to serve elsewhere, but believe it or not…I prayed for those folks this writer speaks of…to “notice”. After all, they WERE the one’s God called to this work so they would know, from God, right???”

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