While some Christian children "lose their faith" and turn away from God and the church, they must realize their faith needs time and effort to grow, the Rev. Billy Graham said Tuesday.
In response to a question regarding lost faith in The Kansas City Star, the 97-year-old evangelical leader says that while there are many reasons why a young Christian might turn away from God, one of the main causes is they don't realize their relationship with Him needs to grow.
"Like the seed in one of Jesus' parables, a plant with no roots eventually withers and dies — and the same is true of faith," Graham writes.
Young people also turn away from their faith because they lack commitment, or they get distracted with other values and friend groups, ultimately making the decision that there is no room for God in their adult life.
Even though children may lack commitment, this doesn't mean they don't understand the meaning behind it.
"Children may not understand everything — but they can understand that God loves them, and Jesus Christ came into the world to offer them the gift of eternal life," Graham writes. "Moreover, they can understand that they need to commit their lives to Jesus by inviting Him to come into their lives. Faith and commitment go hand in hand."
This basic understanding of commitment equips children with the ability to grow in their faith, but they must make an active effort to do so.
Children must also keep their faith as a central part of their life despite distractions and potentially harmful influence from friends.
Sometimes, young Christians "… simply get too busy or preoccupied with other things. Or they get in with a group of people who never think about God, and they give in to the pressure of the crowd."
"Still others conclude that faith simply has no place in an intelligent adult's life," the Baptist minister says.
Graham concludes his message by encouraging adults to pray for children, that they might maintain their commitment to God throughout their lives.
The evangelical leader has addressed the topic of leaving the church before, writing in an April 2008 post that no matter how long you've been away from the church, God loves you and will always welcome you back.
God "yearns for you to leave the dead-end road you're on and come back to Him. He knows the price you've paid for leaving Him out of your life and going your own way — and He doesn't want you to have to pay it any longer," Graham wrote. "This is why He is willing to forgive you, if you will only turn back to Him in repentance and faith."
"After all, Jesus Christ has already paid the price for your forgiveness — the price of His own blood, which He shed on the cross for you," the evangelical pastor continued. "Satan will try to convince you that you have gone too far — but it isn't true."
Graham then cited Isaiah 55:7, which reads: "Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon."