The Fear of the Lord is Key to Keeping Children in Church, says Evangelist

Correction appended

In his new book, evangelist and author Ray Comfort introduces the key to guiding children to a path of salvation.

In "How to Bring Your Children to Christ and Keep Them There" (Genesis Publishing Group, 2005), Comfort presents important biblical principles that can be implemented to help prevent children from falling away from their faith.

According to Agape Press, Comfort believes too many people in the church think all that is necessary for any child to be saved is merely to ask Christ into his or her heart.

"The correct way to bring a child to Christ and keep him there, by God's grace, is to teach them the Commandments," he says.

"And the reason for this is that, when they hit their teenage years and sin begins to rise in their hearts – specifically sexual sin – they will know that God condemns adultery, fornication, but it also considers lust to be adultery of the heart. So it brings the knowledge of sin."

Comfort, who also leads several interdenominational ministries such as Living Waters Ministry and the Way of the Master, emphasizes the teaching of fearing the Lord.

"It is extremely important to instill the fear of the Lord in the hearts of children," says the author. "In this way, adults can help to ensure that young people have a reverence for God, and they do everything in the light of His frown or His smile."

In his book, which is subtitled Avoiding the Tragedy of False Conversion, Comfort asserts God's law to be the basis for true conversion that follows biblical repentance – one's recognition of sin (violation of God's law) and a sincere understanding of God's grace and mercy.

"People think the fear of the Lord is something that you should shun," says the evangelist. "And this is because modern evangelism and popular preachers stay away from words like the fear of God, hell, Judgment Day, repentance, and all this sort of stuff because they don't want to make people feel guilty."

Guilt and fear, if presented in a biblical and complete manner, are regarded by Comfort as "appropriate responses to the gospel."

"To come to Christ, you have to feel guilty, because we are guilty," Comfort explains. "And the Bible says, 'the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.' And, in fact, Jesus said, 'Fear not him who has power to kill your body and afterwards can do no more.' The Bible says it is 'a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.'"

At the 2002 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life reported that an alarming 88 percent of children raised in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18, never to return.

Comfort believes fewer young people will fall away if they are given a firm scriptural foundation for their genuine conversion to faith in Christ from the beginning.

Correction: Monday, February 18, 2008:

An article on Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2005, about a new book by evangelist and author Ray Comfort incorrectly attributed statistics on children raised in evangelical homes to The Barna Group. It was the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life which reported that 88 percent of children raised in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18, never to return.