Daron has a soapbox moment.... It's time to take a stand... It is time to stand up for those who move from our pews to our car parks and then don't come anymore. Maybe they were never really there in the first place. Maybe they never felt like they belonged... Maybe they never felt accepted, loved, noticed or wanted. Why don't we notice?... Why don't we care more about the slow bleed from our pews? Why don't we do more and care more for our children? These are your children and mine! Shane Raynor, blogger on the Faith Experience website, identifies five reasons we are losing our children from our churches. 1. "Teens don't show up because they don't think God shows up." Pizza and basketball will only hold our kids for so long... They need substance and to feel the presence of God moving in the church and in their lives. 2. "Children don't make church a priority because their parents don't make it a priority." Children are more likely to adopt the faith of their parents. This is the good news for parents but also the bad news. Children want to see a faith that works 24/7 not just on Saturday! When they see genuine faith they are more likely to embrace it. 3. "Children are connected to each other via social networking and don't need the church for this anymore." Sad but true... You don't have to sit through a boring message to see you friends anymore. 4. "There is no real difference between church kids and everyone else." Our children are not looking for perfection, but they would like to see some progress in how religion makes a difference in members’ lives. 5. "Children get impatient with churches that major on the minors and try to hard to seem relevant." There are possibly many and varied reasons why our children leave. So what is the antidote? Whilst there are no guarantees, I see a combination of factors that need to come into play to truly immerse our children in the Christian community! 1. Our homes need to be prioritised by churches and parents need be equipped to be the primary faith mentor of their children. In this way children can see their parents as real, authentic and faithful as they model what good faith and marriages look like. 2. Churches and schools need to provide forums where children can be immersed in genuine intergenerational communities and mentoring. If children are let down by their mentors, or have no mentors at all, then they are never likely to feel connected to their faith and God. 3. Our children need to know that they are wanted. They need to know that they belong to their church community. This means that our worship service needs to not so much be a polished performance but real, genuine and relevant. No one generation should own the worship style. Our children need to feel like they are a part of the church and be allowed to make a genuine contribution to it! This best occurs in intergenerational settings. 4. Our children need to be involved in service to others. We cannot cloister our children in "Christian Ghettos" and expect them to grow into cookie cutter Christians. Children need to serve the world in acts of justice and mercy... This is where God shows up and is made real to them... They also gain a sense of realism as they gain perspectives on the world around them. They begin to understand that they have a larger responsibility to the world around them not just to those who believe the same way as them. 5. Our children need to encounter God. As our children are presented with the awesome stories of God and the Christian faith; and as they experience God through the various memory events and moments that the church calendar brings they are challenged to find God in their own way through rituals and contemplation and worship. When our children truly encounter God for themselves, they will never want to walk away from that! Finally and above all LOVE them... Unconditionally love them and they will stay! Daron gets off his soapbox and mumbling wanders on into the crowded street!