Twenty-five years! If you read the meditation by Seminarian Andre Holsleg, you are aware that today, as in Old Testament times, it only takes one generation—or 25 years—for apostasy to enter the church. Mr. Holsleg rightly challenges us to be faithful in training our covenant youth. His advice is something we must all take to heart.
This summer, my family and I were privileged to be able to take a road trip across this great country. We were able to fellowship with other Reformed believers in many states and worship with various URC and CRC congregations.
As we talked with this wide cross section of people, invariably the discussion would turn towards our covenant children and the future of the church. While it was a delight to see many of these churches bursting at the seams with toddlers and young children, there was also n deep underlying concern for the way in which these children would be trained.
Many young parents lamented the lack of good, solid Reformed schools in their area. Others were struggling to start Reformed schools before their children reached school-age, while still others felt that home-schooling was the only way in which their children could be solidly taught the Reformed principles in which our churches are grounded. If there were any Christian schools in the area, these had sadly left their Reformed foundation and, while still using Christian in their name, they no longer could offer a Reformed Christian worldview to their students.
Many children, attending the schools their parents graduated from and where their parents learned much of the Reformed faith, now learn easy Bible verses, and simple Bible based ditties to sing. Lost somewhere between the generation is the firm foundation and love for the rich Reformed truths.
Children are now offered a watered down version of a generic faith that will not offend the diversity of students of which the schools now boast. A Christian school in our area, supported largely by Reformed churches, took out a full page ad in the local newspaper. In that ad it boasted not of its Reformed curriculum but of the fact that their students come from over thirty different denominations. Ironically, the local Roman Catholic Schools also had a full page ad in which they boasted of their decidedly “catholic centered education.”
How can our church remain strong and fixed on the truths of Scripture when our children--the future church--attend weak schools? The catechism training given by the church is invaluable, but it is no match for the day-to-day, five days a week, indoctrinations of the schools. There is no question as to which will have the bigger and more lasting influence. The future pastors, elders, and deacons of our churches may grow up to be well-trained in computers, skilled athletes in various sports, and masters of the latest dance steps taught to them in their P.E. classes, but what knowledge will they bring to the church in their understanding of the creeds and confessions which we say we love and adhere to? How will they be equipped to lead God’s people? What attention is being given to their souls?
I fear that in 25 years we may be looking at a much different church. Each conversation we had this summer, with people in various walks of life, ended in much the same manner. We encouraged one another to remain faithful to the Reformed faith, to continue to place a strong emphasis on training our children in all spheres, home, Church, and school, with a Reformed worldview. We also prayed fervently together for our covenant youth and the future of the church, that parents will realize the vital importance of their responsibility to raise their children with a Reformed worldview. May God impress upon each one of us the importance of gathering with other Reformed believers and of training our covenant youth together with other reformed covenant youth.
Rev. Wybren Oord is the pastor of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He is also the editor of The Outlook.