“Abandoned Faith”-McFarland & Jimenez

Abandoned Faith

Abandoned Faith: Why Millennials Are Walking Away and How You Can Lead Them Home by Alex McFarland and Jason Jimenez

Over the past few years, I’ve been heartbroken to observe the turning away from faith by a few of my nieces and nephews. Although they were raised in Christian homes and stem from a strong faith heritage (my father has been a full-time pastor since 1966), they have, for all intents and purposes, rejected God. How does something like this happen? Why would a young man or woman—who was raised by Christian parents and grandparents; who was taught about God from a young age; who “invited Jesus into his/her heart” early in life; who knows how to pray; who has served when asked—turn his or her heart away from God and towards a worldview in total opposition to Him?

The truth is, most parents try to raise their children in the fear of the Lord. Unfortunately, many of these children (now adults) still turn away from Christianity.” (p. 6)

In their timely book, Abandoned Faith: Why Millennials Are Walking Away and How You Can Lead Them Home, Alex McFarland and Jason Jimenez explain what is going on, examine the root causes of this modern phenomenon, and offer valuable advice for parents, grandparents, and other adults who are deeply concerned about the choices their children and grandchildren (and nieces and nephews) are making which will affect their lives both now and eternally. While there is no official definition of the age range of millennials at this time, most demographers place their birth between the early-1980s and the mid-1990s with some extending it through the early 2000s.1

Based on well-documented research about the millennial generation and years of personal experience working with this age group, the authors present an excellent overview of what makes millennials tick, how they view the world, what it is they are seeking, and how to help them become rooted in Christ. Their insights are extremely valuable and relevant; their solutions, doable.

Following the model Jesus set forth in Matthew 7:3-5, the authors challenge their readers to first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” In other words, with compassion and boldness, they encourage their readers to first look at their own spiritual lives before that of their children.

Unfortunately, many of the problems millennials deal with stem from their parents…whatever the case—if we are going to see major turnaround among millennials, they need to see a change first in moms and dads.” (page 9)

One by one, the authors gently peel back the layers of parenting in order to reveal that many Christians are in unspeakable pain because of the decisions their adult children have made. They are paralyzed by fear and doubt as they suffer under waves of regret regarding their parenting blunders. By encouraging the reader to let go of “fear-driven” parenting and focus instead on “faith-driven” parenting, McFarland and Jimenez challenge moms and dads to lean into their unique and influential roles in the lives of their adult children:

You are God’s stewards. You represent Him and have been given the authority and responsibility to serve and to demonstrate His love graciously.” (page 19)

We must remember that as parents, we have a LIFELONG role in shaping our children’s perception of God and what it means to be a Christian—this doesn’t stop when they turn eighteen.

Once we’ve looked within, confessed our sins, and gotten our own lives right with the Lord, we are in a better position to understand what is going on with our children. Out of the seven key reasons for faith abandonment common among millennial Christians, the first reason will probably come as a surprise to some of my readers, but it’s true.

Many millennials (18- to 29-year-olds) who claim to be Christian never had a true conversion to begin with.” (page 27)

“But wait!” you exclaim…

  • “He was active in the youth group!”
  • “She went on missions trips!”
  • “They went to church camp every summer!”
  • “He went to a Christian school!”

Activity does NOT not equal relationship. What they have discovered is that young adults who lack deep, relational roots in the faith will fall away when confronted with questions they are unprepared to answer. Remember the parable of the sower. Not everything that sprouts thrives.

Not everything that sprouts thrives ~ Laura Zielke #abandonedfaith @jasonpjimenez @alexmcfarland Share on X

The book is organized into four key sections:

  1. What Went Wrong?
    Offering both hope and explanation, this section focuses on the roles of society, parents, and the church in the lives of millennials.
    .
  2. Forces Shaping Our Sons and Daughters
    This section paints an excellent picture of who millennials are, what drives them, and how much we need them in our lives and organizations.
    .
  3. Steps to Mend and Move Forward 
    With practical tips for helping to sustain and/or rebuild parent/adult-child relationships, this section will help the parent (or boss) understand how to relate to young adults.
    .
  4. Winning Back Your Millennial Child
    Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Practical tools include a prayer map for your millennial as well as instructions for building a foundation of biblical truth.
  • Appendix: When There Is a Failure to Launch
    This bonus section gives step-by-step instructions to help parents help their millennials move out on their own and enjoy a life of independence. 

Hope for MillennialsWhether or not they have walked away from the faith, if you have millennial children or grandchildren (or maybe they are post-millennial, like mine), you will benefit from reading Abandoned Faith. By the time you finish it, not only will you have a better understanding of millennials in general, you’ll also have a more clear picture of the millennial(s) in your own life. You will have more insight into the ways we, as parents, have exacerbated the problem and how we might contribute to the solution. Abandoned Faith will help you become more transparent with your kids about your own faith journey, struggles, and victories. This type of authenticity strengthens the parent-child bond and could potentially help your child come to (or return to) a fulfilling relationship with Jesus Christ.

McFarland and Jimenez remind us that God has not given up on this generation, and neither should we. The LORD continues to reach out in love to ALL who call on His Name.

I highly recommend Abandoned Faith to anyone in a parental or work relationship with millennials. My hope is that pastors, ministers, young adult workers, grandparents of millennials, and anyone else interested in reaching this generation for the Lord will make an investment in this book and read it from cover to cover. By understanding ways the church has failed this generation, readers will be empowered to change course and make necessary changes before it’s too late.

1 Wikipedia contributors, “Millennials,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Millennials&oldid=773009995(accessed April 1, 2017).


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

“While My Child Is Away” by Melson

Book Review

My only son started high school this year—I’m still in shock over that—and the thought he will be leaving home soon is something I can barely think about without becoming verklempt. Lately, he’s started asking about Driver’s Ed and getting his license. He’s fourteen. I’m not ready!

As I imagine my son out on his own, I experience both euphoria and anxiety: I’m excited that he’s ready and confident enough to want more independence, but I’m also anxious about what this will mean when he’s away without parent-approved adult supervision—whether for an evening with friends or a semester at college. One thing I know for certain, when he is away, I will pray.

Book CoverAs parents, we are all keenly aware that we cannot be with our children at all times. This separation process begins early and continues, I think, for the rest of our lives. (I mean, do we ever really completely separate from our children?!) So, whether your daughter was just married, your son recently earned his driver’s license, or your twins started a new daycare, it’s important that we know how to pray for our children.

This week marks the release of Edie Melson’s new book While My Child Is Away: My Prayers for When We Are Apart. Not only is this a handy reference book full of inspired prayers we can say for our children, but it is also peppered with devotions and prayers specifically written for us parents and caregivers.

While My Child Is Away

The book itself is divided into nine chapters:

  1. The Triumph of Love
  2. Making Good Choices
  3. Peace Beyond Circumstances
  4. True Self-Confidence
  5. A Foundation of Faith
  6. A Core of Strength
  7. Companions Matter
  8. My God, My Defender
  9. Fully Present

Within each chapter, the reader will discover a number of prayers for the kiddos, a handful of prayers for the parents to pray for themselves (thank you!), a few devotionals, and a section entitled “Parenting Thoughts.” It’s basically four books in one! The organized, calming format invites us to relax into the discipline of prayer for our families. With the prayers divided into categories, it’s easy to find the right kind of prayer when you need it.

While the prayers for the children are a helpful tool filled with love from a mama’s heart, I personally find the prayers for parents and the devotionals to be something I need just as much (possibly more). The personal stories included in the devotionals drive home her point again and again:

“[God] has lessons for each of us—even our kids—and we don’t always need to be there to make sure they get the point” (p. 20).

Amen, sister! Amen.

bookcover

In addition to the fantastic content, I cannot conclude this book review without commenting about the physical formatting of the book itself. The book is a small paperback that fits nicely into my hands. Whoever designed the cover deserves an award, because not only is it an aesthetically pleasing and calming design, it also has flaps on each side which can be used to mark the spot of favorite prayers or devotionals. It’s obvious to me that a lot of thought went into this book from character-building content to charming page design. Each prayer page features the subject of the prayer in bold print, an inspirational quote, the prayer itself*, and a related Bible verse. The book is something I will treasure and refer to frequently for years to come.

This book is not only a wonderful reference for any parent, it would also make a great gift for anyone who wants to pray effectively for his or her children.

* The prayers are both inclusive and exclusive. Inclusive, because they alternate between “he” and “she.” Exclusive, because each prayer will focus either on a son or a daughter. The prayers are easily be adapted for your own child.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

“How Many Times…?” by Carman

Book Review

You Can’t Judge This Book by Its Cover!

Don’t let the cute fonts and brightly-colored, busily-decorated cover fool you into thinking this is a shallow, feel-good-about-yourself parenting book filled with fluffy anecdotes and little depth. That’s NOT what this is. Rachael Carman’sHow Many Times Do I Have to Tell You? What God Wants Us to Hear When We Talk to Our Kids challenges the reader to pursue a more intimate relationship with the Lord by listening to the words coming out of his or her own mouth.

Rachael Carman’s premise is that God oftentimes speaks to us—His children—the same way (sometimes with the exact same words and phrases) we speak to our children. Throughout the book, the author demonstrates her thesis by sharing deep spiritual insights she’s gained through a wide variety of experiences she’s had as the mother of seven children.

Parenting 101

Whether we’re helping our son overcome lazy habits, teaching our daughter polite manners, or working with both children on sibling rivalry, Carman challenges us to prayerfully pay attention to what we say and listen for God’s voice in our own lives.

How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You? is a life-changing book. When you read it and take “the dare” mentioned in the introduction, you’ll see that what you think is for the benefit of your own child is often of as much, if not more, benefit to yourself. I definitely recommend this book.

HMT - Make room HMT - Look at me

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest, objective, and unbiased review. This is the first Rachael Carman book I’ve ever read, and I really did enjoy it. I gave it 4/5 stars on Amazon.com because I got the point early on, and I was ready to start listening to God in my own life rather than continue reading what God revealed to Rachael Carman about hers. However, that said, I gleaned a lot from what she shared, and I can see how it applies to me. I read it from cover to cover, and my spiritual life is forever changed. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”