As a parent of two young boys, everyday I try to be the best dad I can be, so they can grow to be the best people they can be. Often I fall short, but I still do my darnedest to raise them right.
That’s why I was so troubled to learn about a survey study in 2015 showing that “kids raised in religious homes were less generous and kind than those raised in non-religious homes.” They “tended to be more judgmental, less altruistic, and more punitive than kids raised without religion.” Yikes!
This raised the question for many Christian ministers: “Why are church kids meaner than other kids?”
That might be an over-generalization, but other studies have shown that while evangelical Christians donate more money than other groups (good!) it is mainly to their own churches and to like-minded religious charities. They donate the least amount of money to non-profits, community organizations, and non-religious charities (not so good).
There’s also the fact that waiters/waitresses have learned that Christians are the worst tippers. And another study showed that when non-believers make donations, they do so out of compassion, but when religious people make donations, they do so more out of “doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns.” More of an “I have to…” than an “I want to…” attitude. Again, not so good.
We can start to see a self-serving trend among the adults that would be taught to the kids.
Now, perhaps you feel comfortable saying, “That’s not how we are in my family!” And if so, then that is very good. We need more good families and parent examples bucking the trend. But the trend is still there. It is damaging the Christians church’s witness to the world, and it’s affecting the children who grow up in it. The last thing people should think is, “I want my child to grow up to be as nice as they can… so I should keep them out of church!”
Fortunately, here at Hickory Rock, I do think we are bucking that national trend. No matter what other churches might do, our church is helping every kid who comes in learn how to feel and practice the compassion of Christ to all people. Nevertheless, we adults might need to work harder out in the world to help buck that trend of Christians being more judgmental and self-centered. Instead, we should be more loving and self-less. That would be a wonderful Christ-like witness to people who are watching us, especially our children.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12).