VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – If you look at the data all across the country, you can see that we are failing the young generation, said the youth leader of one of the largest teen movements in the nation.
"We have failed to pass on our heritage and our faith to them," Teen Mania founder Ron Luce said bluntly as thousands of Christians acknowledged the weak and apathetic state of the Church and sought revival at an event marking the 400th anniversary of the first landing of English settlers in North America.
Just weeks after the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history left 33 people at Virginia Tech dead, prayers of repentance and rededication of the nation to God called attention to the youth and the need to recommit to their upbringing as Christ followers.
"The older people need to rededicate themselves to Christ and then commit to disciple and train the young generation," commented Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in College Park, Md., on Sunday at the culmination of The Assembly 2007 gathering in Virginia Beach. "The young generation will no doubt live out our decisions."
A startling Barna Group statistic has revealed that only 4 percent of today's teenagers will be Bible-believing Christians as adults.
But parents play a significant role in reversing that trend.
Young adults who received more guidance from parents actively-engaged in applying God's words to life and family formed deeper standards of faith in their lives, according to research from The Barna Group. John Bartkowski, a sociologist at Mississippi State University, also founds that kids whose parents regularly attended religious services and talked with their kids about religion are better behaved and adjusted than other children.
"You can influence your kids but the most powerful influence you're going to have is the life that you live," said Luce. "Is your lifestyle reflective of the faith you say you have? That will be the influence on their (kids') life.
"And if you're double talking - in other words, you're saying you believe one thing but you live another way - that will influence them to turn away from God," the youth leader added.
Luce is traveling the nation, banging the drum in what is called a Battle Cry movement to warn parents, youth leaders and teens that they have to act now to turn the statistics around and take the young generation back for Christ. Otherwise, in less than five years, "we lose," says Luce as a parent and a Christian.
But it's not just about taking the youth back for Christ; it's about helping the youth take the nation back for Christ.
The baby boomers and the senior pastors of today's churches are not going to take the torch and run the last mile, Jackson noted. So there has to be investment in the youth.
"The Virginia Tech incident shows us that even the brightest and the best ... can go bad because of something called sin. And that generation needs to be won and they need to hear the gospel," said Jackson.
"We have to have a mindset that we're going to win the younger generation and we're going to truly disciple them so that they can take the nation for God."