Over Christmas my wife shared with me an article that I know is true, but it is good to see someone else put it in print. The gist of it is this: Young people tend to abandon their faith if they grow up in an environment that refuses to let them question that faith. If their parents, pastors, and teachers act defensive, shut them down, or even attack them when they try to raise doubts, they were compliant at home but left the faith once they grew up.
Conversely, young people who were allowed to doubt, question, and discuss the teachings of their faith tend to retain it as adults. If their parents, pastors, and teachers were honest about problems, open to criticism, and made it safe for kids to raise hard questions, those kids respected them and, through them, the faith they embrace. These kids may be more vocal about their doubts, but when they have faith it is real and solid, not a sham to avoid conflict.
Inspired, I asked my high school Bible class to answer, anonymously, these four questions:
1. What is the best reason to doubt the Christian faith?
2. What is the reason you most want to be a lifelong Christian?
3. Why are many Christians hypocrites?
4. What one question about the faith do you most want answered?
To my surprise, the majority answer to Question 1 was the lack of evidence supporting the Bible or personal faith. Answers to Question 2 revolved around wanting to be loved and not wanting to go to Hell.
Question 3 brought a variety of answers, such as the need to feel better by condemning others, fear of losing community, and simple emulation—most Christians they know are hypocrites so it must be the right way.
Half the answers to question 4 either restated concerns about the lack of evidence or raised some issue about the goodness of God. The other half were unique, some highly personal.
These answers support the article in at least one way, that is to show that your children have serious, thoughtful questions about the faith. It is foolish to squelch those questions or to pretend that they have easy answers. Trust that God is strong enough to handle doubts and loving enough to resolve them in His time.