EULESS, Texas–In America, biblical Christianity is dying because the home has lost its place as the center of evangelism and discipleship, Voddie Baucham told the Empower Evangelism Conference Feb. 7.
Baucham, a Christian apologist and author from Spring, Texas, near Houston, cited recent studies by the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life and LifeWay Christian Resources, showing that somewhere between 75-88 percent of students raised in church are leaving the church by their freshman year in college.
Lamenting the generation gap in the SBC, Baucham stated: “There are a lot of you in here who are upset with the Emerging Church movement. You’re upset with Brian McLaren and some of the theology that he’s espousing. I don’t like a lot of the theology that’s coming out of the Emerging Church movement, but can I tell what the impetus is behind the Emerging Church movement. Twenty-somethings are gone. The Emerging Church movement is saying, ‘What do we do to recapture this age group?’
Compounding the danger is that for the first time in history the American birthrate–1.9 children per family–is below the replacement rate?2.1 children per family–and the birthrate among evangelical Christians is similar.
“What that means is we’ve not having enough children for our culture to continue to survive. Our culture is dying one generation at a time.”
The French birthrate of 1.5 children per family, for example, is not only below the replacement rate, it is overshadowed by Muslim immigrants, who average six children per family.
“Which means in two generations France will be a Muslim nation by sheer numbers alone,” Baucham said. “Why? Because they want prosperity more than they want children. And it’s the same for us.”
The unwritten rule among Southern Baptists and others is two children per family.
“We despise children in the Southern Baptist Convention. You don’t believe me? Find a woman who has six or seven children and follow her into a Southern Baptist church and watch the way we mock her. Watch the way people who don’t even know her come up to her and say, ‘Haven’t you guys figured out how that happens yet?'”
Baucham noted that there are 16 million Southern Baptists–“on paper,” he said, an obvious allusion to the many inactive members on church rolls.
At the current birthrate, Southern Baptists will number about 250,000 in three generations. Increasing evangelism efforts alone will not suffice, Baucham said.
“In order to replenish those numbers by evangelism alone, we would have to reach three lost people for every one Christian. Currently, we only reach one lost person for every 43 Southern Baptists,” Baucham noted.
“Now let me make it plain and bring it home: Christianity in America is dying one generation at a time, one home at a time. Christianity is dying.”
Among the Jewish community the same thing is happening, according to researchers Anthony Gordon and Richard Horowitz, Baucham said. Intermarriage, declining birthrates and inadequate Jewish education “continue to decimate the American Jewish people,” Baucham stated, reading from their report.
“We’re right behind them,” Baucham insisted.
“Our answer has been to divorce ourselves from the issue and hire youth pastors to make it better.”
The last 30 years has seen the greatest number of specialized youth ministers, youth resources and parachurch youth ministries and an unprecedented decline in youth baptisms.
Preaching from Ephesians 6:104, which speaks of children obeying parents and parents gently training their children in the Lord, Baucham said the predominant youth ministry model not only lacks biblical foundation, it is antithetical to Scripture and it doesn’t work.
“Or do I need to say it again? Seventy-five to 88 percent is our current failure rate.”
“I want to show you through the Scripture the centrality of the home in the discipling and evangelizing of the next generation,” Baucham said. “God has a plan for multigenerational faithfulness. That plan is the family.”
Many church youth ministries have as their mission to evangelize teenagers, to disciple them, and to equip them to reach other teenagers.
“Two problems with that. Number one, nine times out of 10 we never mention parents. And number two, it’s not your job. Whose job is it to evangelize my children? The church? No, it’s mine. Whose job is it to disciple my children, the church? No, it’s mine. Which means that any youth ministry that’s going to exist at all had better have a mission statement which says ‘We exist to equip and assist parents as they do what God called them to do and not the church.’”
Many youth ministry programs are moving toward ministering to youth and their families.
“That’s still the wrong answer,” Baucham maintained. … The problem is that “for 30 years we’ve been telling (families), ‘We’re trained professionals. Please don’t try this at home. You don’t understand your kids. Your kids don’t like you. Trust me, just drop them off, now.’ And now (parents are) mad because they’re doing what we’ve taught them to do for 30 years.”
The context of Ephesians 6:1-4 depends on Ephesians 5:15-18, which speaks of walking wisely, being filled with the Spirti, being worshipful, thankful and submissive.
“What he’s saying here is this: ‘Show me a child who is not submissive to his parents’ authority and I’ll show you a child who is not a yielded to the Spirit of God.’ Which means if we want to lead a child toward being Spirit filled, we don’t lead them toward a youth pastor, we lead them toward mom and dad.
“I’m not telling you all to go fire your youth pastors tomorrow. That’s not what I’m saying here. But we have to completely revamp our philosophies.
“Disciple your children. ‘Can I get someone else to do it?’ No, it’s your job. You do it.”
Current evangelistic efforts amount to filling up a bucket with a hole in the bottom, Baucham said.
According to Barna Research, the Nehemiah Institute and the National Study of Youth and Religion, less that 10 percent of professing Christian teens operate from a biblical worldview and less that 5 percent are “theologically born again.”
“By that, I mean they say they are born again and they say they trust Christ as savior and Lord of their life. But they’re wrong on the deity of Christ. They’re wrong on substitutionary atonement. They’re wrong on just about every important theological issue related to salvation. Only 5 percent of them have the information they need to be saved.”
Baucham said the answer lies in Christians having a biblical view of children as blessings from God, revamping youth ministry to help parents disciple their children, and “we have to adopt a biblical view of church leadership.”
He said it is a biblical imperative that the pastor be able to teach and be able to manage his household well. “The Bible says if you are not discipling your children in an exemplary fashion, you’re not worthy of being called a pastor.”