Churches all over America are shrinking—not because new blood isn't coming in, but because old blood is going out and never coming back. It's easy to grow up in church and identify as a Christian culturally when all your friends are there and popularity hinges on public displays of piety, but when you get older and experience life outside youth group and corporate worship it's just as easy to lapse into apathy and even rejection of Christianity.
Karl Graustein grew up Christian....and lived to tell about it, which he does now for the benefit of Christian young people who've always gone to church because their parents have and it's just the thing to do. A graduate of Wheaton and the principle of Covenant Life School in Gaithersburg, MD, Graustein was the epitome of a church kid. (In the first chapter he offers a list of traits to help determine if the reader is a church kid, too.)
There are a lot of dangers specific to church kids, he argues. They tend to assume they're Christian because they've always gone to church and have Christian parents, or they think maybe they're all right because they've never done anything seriously wrong, or the world and the love thereof proves stronger than they can resist. When kids like this become tested in any way, the truth soon surfaces and many of them pack up and leave.
But there are plenty of upsides to growing up in church, too—if kids are alert they'll learn how to actively develop a relationship with Christ, love Scripture, think biblically, trust God and develop their own convictions. And if they never "fall away," they'll enjoy a lifetime of growth unburdened by the regret and guilt experienced by many converts.
Growing Up Christian is a warning, an exhortation, and an encouragement for those born into faith. Graustein's passion is for the children of believers to remain within the church community in pursuit of Christ. While he writes directly to teenagers and young adults, this also makes a great book for parents, both to understand how their kids are likely thinking and to know how to respond. Graustein's text is urgent and serious, and makes a fine counterpoint to much of the wishy-washy material currently available for Christian young people.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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