Within Our Reach - Carl Kerby | thebereancall.org

Kerby, Carl

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Carl Kerby: We’re losing a generation because we’re not investing in this generation. 

Jeriah Shank: We fill ‘em up with pizza and pop and fun music and games at youth group, and then we think that’s somehow going to stop them from abandoning the church when they get to adulthood. 

Carl: If you don’t give this generation not just what to think, but why to think and how to think about these things, they’re going to get chewed up and spit out.

Scott: They don’t have answers to the hard questions. They’re going to war every day armed with Nerf guns.

Jeriah: We can teach them how to play sports, we can teach them to do the best in school, but if we don’t teach them to know God, what’s the point of it all?

Carl: You’re never going to have true peace if you are allowing your child to go down a road that is going to destroy them.

Hi, I’m Carl Kerby, founder of Reasons for Hope Ministries, and what you just saw should shake you to the core, because I know it does me. We’re losing our children at an alarming rate, and we have to ask why? Why are they willing to adopt the worldview that is contrary to what they’ve been taught? And what can we as parents, grandparents, pastors, youth pastors, sisters, brothers, and friends do to overcome the mass exodus of the next generation?

Narrator: What better place to start than addressing the pervasive influence of social media? Almost 95 percent of our youth have access to a smart phone. But it’s not just phones—tablets, video games and TV all play a part in separating our youth from their spiritual identity.

Carl: So reality is this: we’re not—parents are not communicating with their children, so somebody is.

Dr. Jim Tillotson: In my age, if you had a question, you had to ask your parents or ask an adult. These young people just ask Siri. So they don’t ask adults anymore, they Google everything. But they take everything they find on Google as if it was God’s truth.

Trace Embry: You know, how much time is lost in pursuing the God of the universe that created all the elements that actually make one of these things because we’re on here looking up YouTube videos?

J. Warner Wallace: And this kind of individualization, I think, is dangerous for kids, because it strips community. We don’t see any tie to larger communities, the traditions, and mores of our…we think we can craft all that for ourselves on our phones.

Bethany: Kids are looking for answers, and they have all of this technology at the tips of their fingers, but they don’t know how to use it.

Lindsey Allen: They’d almost rather lose their arm than you take away their phone.

Haley Walker: I think that parents are putting these devices in their children’s hands way too early. I think that these teenagers, these children, and even adults, I mean, sometimes just cannot—they can’t put it down.

Brent Snook: And because parents are on their devices so much, now they feel like a hypocrite to tell their teenagers to get off. And so what has happened? They either have to get off and be the example, or they have to stop telling their kids to get off. And they’ve chosen the easy way.

Carl: Didn’t you read the rulebook? Yeah, the parental rulebook when we all got our first child, right? We got the rulebook, and it said, “Rule number 3: Make your child mad.” It’s in the rulebook! That’s our job! I said, “But think about it: if you take cocaine away from a cocaine addict, what response do you think you’re going to get?” This is a drug, and when we put a drug into our hand and pay for that drug 90 percent of the time, to put it in their hand, and then we’re shocked when our children are addicts? Guys, you’re going to have to make the tough call. There will come a time when you have to take that away. It takes an intervention. It takes somebody caring enough to go through that ugliness, that meanness, because you know on the other side there’s good things that will come out of it.

Narrator: Genesis clearly states that God called Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, establishing the family as the first institution in Scripture. So yes, it all starts at home. But controlling media is only the first step.

Ben Paschal: There’s a lot of—there’s a million things we could talk about that are causing problems with the youth and, you know, their faith and all this kind of thing, but the number one thing, if I had to pick one thing, it would be weak Christian leadership or no Christian leadership in the home.

Dave Glander: I always like to go back to Little League and when I coached Little League, and we’d have 25 kids for an hour and a half on Monday, an hour and a half on Tuesday, and then we’d have a game on Friday. So I had a total of four hours. In four hours, 25 kids, and three grown men trying to impart what we know about how to stop a ground ball, how to throw a ball, how to pitch, how to hit. Four hours divided by 25 kids and three people, you do the math. You don’t get a whole lot of time, so I would try my hardest to encourage the parents when you’re at home, play catch with them. When you’re at home, throw them ground balls. You have got to supplement more so than what we’re able to do, not equal, but more than what we’re able to do if you want to see little Johnny succeed. And little Johnny every week would come in, just as terrible as he was the week before, because the parents never spent any time adding to that. Flip that into church now. Man, as a youth pastor, we would get, you know, two hours on Wednesday night and some facetime on Sunday morning, and maybe a special outing every once in a blue moon. You expect me to raise your kid in Christ with a total of three hours a week? I can’t do it!

Carl Kerby, Jr.: And we’re thinking that two days a week of church, about an hour each time, is going to overcome how many hours in the school? How many hours online? How many hours just…the world throwing a message at them? It’s not working.

Hector Torres: I think parents nowadays are more concerned with entertainment than with personal growth in their kids. I believe now…and I believe there’s a root of laziness in that.

Bob VanderPlats: It’s the adults in their lives that have changed, not the youth. And when the adults change, the kids are going to change.

Dr. Jim Tillotson: When teens have questions, parents need to help them find the answer. I was a youth pastor, and I used to tell our parents all the time, “It’s okay if you don’t know the answer, but you’ve got to go find it.” And the worse thing we can do with our young people is they come with a question we don’t know the answer, and we drop it.

Hannah: My kids are growing up in this. They’re going to have to face sinful things, and so already just laying it out on an age-appropriate level and building on that as they get older, to say, “Here’s what the culture is saying, but here’s what the Bible said.”

J. Warner Wallace: My idea as a parent is to be respected, not liked.

Bub Kuns: Mm-hmm, that’s important to be respected. Right.

J. Warner: You know, in the end, you have to have the respect of your kids. So I’m—I have friends, and I have children. Now, turns out my adult children now are my friends. 

Bub: Sure, yeah.

J. Warner: Now, when they were kids, they had to remain in that kid category, so I have to make sure I keep that separation.

Lindsey Allen: Stop worrying about having a 15-year-old friend. Worry about that kid when they’re 25 or 26 years old, because if you start being a peer at 15, 13, 12, and being afraid of how they’re going to respond, I promise you, 25 and 26 could be a whole lot worse.

Daniel Estep: I grew up in the foster system. I didn’t have parents myself. I went through several different houses, and I can say for me the ones that affected me the most were the ones where I could rely on an adult to make decisions and put structure in place.

Candace: It’s not always easy saying no, or…but I think that’s where you have to remember, like, the Lord made you the parent of this child, and we only have so much time with them. And so if I have to say no so that it will help them later, then it’s worth it.

Carl: The greatest advice a guy gave me was like, “Carl, your children are like a bank account.” What? He said, “Look, if you open a bank account and for 16 years you put nothing in, and you go try to take a withdrawal, what are you going to get out? Nothing.” He said, “Now, if you’re putting in regular contributions all along that way, come 16 years from now, you’re going to be able to withdraw something.” 

People are talking to me all the time about how their teens have gone off the rails. Well, that’s probably because you didn’t start down here and invest all along the way.

J. Warner: So what I see is this: it gets frustrating, because there are a lot of parents who will be listening to this, and they already know their kids have walked away from the faith. And there’s a sense of, “What did I do wrong? I’m the reason why this failed.” The first thing parents have to do is stop that. Stop that, because this is a story that’s still in progress, and there’s a sense in which I cannot fix the things which I’ve messed up in the past. Well, I have the same regrets about things I could have done better. I mean, I had a career that kept me at work long hours and on holidays. It’s not funny—people will kill each other on holidays.

Bub: Yeah.

J. Warner: So I got called out all the time for homicides on holidays. Missed a lot of stuff. But it’s never too late.

Ben: When I make a mistake as a Christian, it’s not that I won’t make mistakes, because I will. It’s that I take ownership of that, and I say, “You know what, I did make a mistake.” I’ve talked to God about it. I’ve repented. I’ve asked for the Holy Spirit to help me with this—whatever it is—struggle. But being honest about that, I think, is so important! It’s not that we can perfect. We can’t! If we could be, Jesus wouldn’t have needed to come, right? We wouldn’t have needed a Savior. We could attain this perfect place and be acceptable to God on our own merit, and that’s not the gospel.

Trace Embry: I wrote a document called The Youth Culture Manifesto, and I said, “We have a youth problem,” which we do. We have a youth problem because we have a greater parent problem. We have a parent problem because of a greater cultural problem. We have a cultural problem because we have a greater church problem. No one wants to hear that. 

Brent: The distinction between what the church is really called to be and culture. And it appears to me, as I’ve been in ministry for a long time, that the church, in order to be cool, in order to be relevant, has done everything we can to go out and see what people want in a church. And it doesn’t matter whether they’re unsaved, whether they’re ungodly, doesn’t matter if they’re worldly, and we’ve adapted so much to be relevant that we’ve lost our salt, and we’ve lost our light.

Michael A. Jones: You can’t blame Washington DC for the problem in our country today. I think the blame is right here in the church, because the church is nothing more than a bunch of families. And if a church will influence families, and the families will influence their neighbors, you know, the countries are made up of a bunch of families, we haven’t influenced our country the way we ought to.

Steve Deace: Do people leave church on a Sunday understanding why they believe what they believe? How about any Sunday? Do they walk away from there understanding why they believe what they believe? Because I can tell you as someone who talks to a large—rather large, significant audience of believers every single day on a very large media platform: the number one piece of feedback I get from them, other than, “Could you be nicer?” the other piece of feedback that I most often get from them is, “How come I don’t hear this stuff at church? I’ve never heard this stuff before.” There needs to some depth, and it needs to be on Sunday morning in front of the largest people that assemble, because they need to walk out of there understanding that there are real reasons for what they believe.

Carl: The church needs to be this tool that comes alongside what I as a parent am doing. If it reinforcing what I’m doing, that’s a good thing. If it’s contradictory, then I shouldn’t be in that church, first of all. But that shouldn’t mean that I’m walking in and I’m not being pushed out of my comfort zone, because when I’m growing as a parent, then I can pour even more in.

J. Warner: For young people at this generation where we’re at right now, I think we have to provide what I call “two whys for every what.” And the two whys, first one’s pretty simple: “Well, why is that true?” So if you’re telling me something is true about Jesus, the first question I think most young people want to know is, “Well, why? Why is that true?” I mean, how many times have you heard even young kids get stuck on the why? “Well, why? Why? Why?”

Bub: That’s all they…it never ends. The level keeps going…

J. Warner: Yeah, it keeps on going! And that’s the first question you have to be able to answer. And I think we can do that as Christians, and we have good evidence to support our claims. But this second “why” might be even more important, and it’s the “why” behind a lot of apathy, and that is, “Well, why should I care?” Okay, so this is…you can think it’s true, great. You’ve got some evidence for it, great. But why does that matter to me? Why does any of this stuff matter to me in 2022? 

And the second question I would say, too, is it’s not just the “two whys for every what,” it’s is…we are now at a place where I think we have to talk about: Is Christianity good? It’s not about the Godness of God, it’s about the goodness of God. Because, let’s face it, the culture is saying that every evil thing you can cite in culture, from misogyny to racism to homophobia to transphobia, whatever kind of phobia or -ism you can point to, people are now thinking, “Well, is Christianity at the root of that?”

Bub: Right.

J. Warner: And you’re going to see more and more that the claims will not a left-versus-right, or right-versus-left, it’ll be an unbelieving world pointing their fingers at Christians as the root source of all evil.

Dr. Juan Valdes: Our kids are being attacked. They are being bombarded. I’m talking about elementary, middle school, high school, college, across the board they’re being attacked. Their faith is being attacked. They’re being bombarded with questions, and they don’t know how to answer the questions. So at some point, and in some way, we haven’t prepared them for these attacks. And so that’s what prompted us to develop this poison capsule strategy. It’s a way of preparing our young people for these attacks. How do we do it? In a controlled environment, we expose our young people to small dosages, nonlethal dosages, of bad ideas directly from the atheist and the skeptics of our time, directly from the press, directly from school curriculums, and allow them to think it through. To work it through in their minds. To try to figure out how they would respond to this. And the key is that it’s a controlled environment, because they can work through these. It can provoke doubts in their minds about this, but at the end of the day, they’re going to be exposed to the truth: a response that will logically debunk the bad idea. And once you do that, you’ve created a sort of immunity against that particular poison. That’s why we call it the poison capsules, because you develop immunity against poisonous ideas by knowing how to respond. You develop antibodies. You develop a defense. So when you’re exposed to these ideas on a college campus, it has absolutely no impact on the young person. That’s why this is such a powerful, powerful strategy. 

There’s a three-step approach to analyzing these arguments, these bad arguments that are being thrown at us.

The first step is to figure out what the conclusion is. In other words, what’s the main idea? What is the author or writer or speaker, what is he trying to prove? So once we identify that, then we can take the second step. The second step is asking ourselves, Okay, how does he go about supporting that conclusion? What are the supporting arguments for that conclusion? 

Once we’ve identified these first two steps, we now have our argument in standard form, which makes it really easy to do step three. Step three is to critically evaluate the argument itself, asking ourselves questions like: Does the conclusion follow from the arguments that support it? Are the arguments that support it good arguments, valid arguments, logical arguments, or are they fallacious? Are they bad, are they weak, are they simply not true? So the critical evaluation of the argument is much easier when we put the argument in standard form. “Here are my supporting arguments that lead to my conclusion.”

So it’ll be a lot easier to understand, I think, if we put it into practice. So let’s try one of these poison capsule exercises.

Today’s poison capsule comes to us courtesy of Richard Dawkins, my favorite atheist. And he in this attack attempts to show us that the world we live in does not need a God, a creator God, as an explanation. It doesn’t. We live in a world that actually shows itself to be not created by God. That’s what he’s trying to do. Here’s the argument in his exact words:

“The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect. If there is a bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, and no good. Nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”

Let’s go through the steps. First step: What is being concluded? Now, sometimes, I’ve got to warn you here, sometimes the conclusion is implied. It’s not outright spoken, but it is definitely implied. And this is one of the cases. So let me help you out here as we get going. What is he concluding? He’s concluding that there is no evidence that the universe was created by the God of the Bible. That’s what he’s concluding.

Now, what are the arguments he’s using to support that conclusion? These are pretty obvious in the quote that we just read from him. The first premise, or the first supporting argument, is that we should expect the universe that was not created by God to have certain characteristics. Like “no design, no purpose, no evil, and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” That’s what it should look like if in fact the universe was not created by God. That’s his first premise. 

Now, the second supporting argument is that that is precisely the universe we observe. That’s his second premise. That is precisely the universe we observe. Therefore, there is no evidence that the universe was created by God. That’s his argument in standard form.

Now, let’s break it down. Let’s go to step three. Step three is analyzing, critically evaluating, the entire argument. So we’ll start with the first premise. This premise states that we should expect the universe, if it was not created by God, to have certain characteristics, like “no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” 

So let’s critically evaluate that. Let me give you the first major problem with that, and this is not a little problem, it’s a major problem. He is proposing that you can have a universe without having a god. And why is that a problem? Because he’s proposing an effect without a cause. You see, science has shown us that the universe had a beginning. Well, we knew that all along, because that’s what Genesis:1:1 says. But science caught up, and about 50 years ago started telling us that yeah, yeah, there was a beginning. Space, time, matter, energy all began to exist at some point in the finite past. Amen to that! But if that’s the case, then the universe is an effect, and if you have an effect, you have to have a cause. So what we have here is him trying to establish an effect without a cause. And trust me, if we allow him to do that, then we may as well forget about modern science, because that’s called the law of causality. And the law of causality is necessary for the scientific method to work. We throw away that, we throw away science. And I don’t think anybody’s willing to do that.

So the first premise is fatally flawed by establishing an effect without a cause. But you know what, there’s even more problems with it. Just for argument’s sake, let’s assume that there could exist a universe without a god, that a universe could have begun to exist without a god. So what would that universe look like? Well, if that’s the case, then he’s right. Then the premise would be pretty accurate. If this universe was the product of some kind of random chance or, you know, unguided, unplanned events that somehow got started, then we would definitely see no design. Everything would be chaotic, disorderly. We would see no purpose, because if there’s no mind behind it, no design, then there’s…nothing was done for any purpose. Things just exist randomly. There would be no objective morality, there would be no evil and no good, because objective morality would require a source for that morality that transcends men. Because if it comes from us, it’s not objective, it’s subjective. So that’s, you know, that’s what it would look like. We would live in a world with blind, pitiless indifference. 

So if we’re able to overlook the fatal flaw of an effect without a cause, then we could say that those characteristics would be appropriate as a description of a universe not created by God. 

But you know where the real problem lies? Premise number two. You see, in premise number two, he says that this is precisely the world we observe around us! Man, I don’t know about you, but I don’t know what universe he lives in, what planet he lives on! But the planet I live on, there’s a lot of design everywhere. It looks nothing like what he’s describing. You find design in physics, in chemistry, in biology, in astronomy, you name it, there’s design. There’s design in DNA, there’s design in the whole, you know, manufacturing process that occurs inside the city known as a cell, which is a manufacturing city. Design is everywhere, everywhere. And so to say that we live in a world without design? The human body: think about that design! Think about design in the animal kingdom. Think about design in the plant kingdom! I mean, there’s design everywhere! How could you say we live in a world without design and purpose? Are you serious? I mean, the finetuning of our universe points to the fact that this world, this earth, was created expressly for the purpose of sustaining biological life. There’s no question about that! There’s at least 80 measurements that pertain to our universe, our galaxy, and our planet that have to be precise to an incredible level of precision to be able to sustain life on our planet. That’s speaks to me of purpose! These measurements and these laws were established and finely tuned for the purpose of sustaining life. 

So we live in a world with purpose. And we live in a world with objective morality! There are some things that are right, and some things that are wrong, and it’s not a matter of opinion. It’s not. Everyone knows that torturing small babies for fun is wrong. Everybody knows that stealing and murder and envy is wrong. Now, because people don’t practice this, because people go out and violate these moral laws, this moral code, the fact that people violate this doesn’t make it an invalid code. The code is there, whether we live by it or not. There is objective morality, and it’s undeniable.

So when I read his description of what he thinks the world we live in looks like, it’s an epic failure. It really is, because it is nothing like the world we live in. 

So let’s take this to the next step. If the conclusion is like a tabletop, and the premises are the legs that hold up that tabletop, this particular tabletop is in bad shape, because the first premise is fatally flawed, and the second premise is downright wrong! So you cannot reach that conclusion that this world does not show any evidence of having been created by God. You cannot reach that conclusion using the supporting arguments you just gave. It’s not gonna happen.

So at that stage, it’s just a matter of his opinion. That’s what he thinks. But he doesn’t have anything to back that up. 

We could take this another route and show why we know that the universe we live in was created by God, because the properties we observe in this universe are exactly the properties we would expect if there is a God who created it, because what we observe is design and purpose and objective morality. That all points to a creator God. So I think his bad idea, his poison capsule has been inoculated. 

Carl: I cannot more highly recommend that you take this approach. Teach your children, as Juan showed, take the argument, and then deal with it. Because by doing that, you are preparing them to walk into the world to be the light. Many times people tell me, “I’m sending my children off to be a missionary to this school,” wherever. But the reality is unless you’ve trained them to go into that environment, you’re not sending them as missionaries, you’re sending them as lambs to the slaughter. And so this approach that Juan has given you, the poison capsule, take what the world is throwing at them, teach them how to deal with it, and then you truly have prepared them to go be light.

Now I know that some of you have been thinking, “Well, Carl, you’re just spending so much time on negative. I mean, 50-88 percent of the kids walking away from their faith, and this is all negative stuff.” Well, if 50-88 percent of the kids are walking away, that means there’s a percentage that are staying. And so what we want them to do is take a look at that percentage that are staying and see if we couldn’t glean anything from them to pass onto you and us, quite frankly, that we could apply in helping to train and teach our children to be able to deal with this culture. So in order to do that, we have brought in Dr. Holly Varnum. She is the Director of Curriculum Development for Reasons for Hope, and she’s just made the Impact Curriculum to help us to be able to do just that: to keep this generation from walking away.

So, Miss Holly, thank you for joining us.

Dr. Holly Varnum: Happy to be here.

Carl: So in your research for putting all of this together, what did you come up with? What did you see?

Dr. Holly: Well, I first went to Barna Group, because they are very well-known for doing their research and getting really accurate statistics for us. And in a recent study they found that 25 percent of Christian kids who are raised in the home, raised in the church are staying in the church. So it behooves us to look at that data and what is different? What is different about those families, about what those kids are exposed to, so that we can follow that path and keep more in the church?

Carl: Absolutely. Now, some of those things that we’re going to share with you, probably you’re going to say, “But, Carl, that’s like, duh! Everybody knows that.” Well, duh! They do know it, but we’re not doing it! So I think sometimes we have to reinforce that. And the first thing that they found was children that ate dinner in the home with their parents five nights a week were more apt to stay. That was one of the key things. Why?

Dr. Holly: Well, you would think that would be a “duh,” but it’s amazing how many families I’ve talked to in recent years that are saying, “Oh, we just don’t have time to do family dinner anymore.”

Carl: Yeah.

Dr. Holly: Those were those times that our family with our three daughters had some of the deepest conversations…

Carl: Absolutely.

Dr. Holly: …was at the dinner table.

Carl: Same with ours. My son and my daughter, I mean, that was the time: “Bring it. What’s been going on? What’s happening? Let’s go for it, no holds barred.” You had to create that environment where they could feel like they could come in and deal with it. Unfortunately, what we see today many times, it feels like homes have become hotels and not homes. You can come down and get breakfast whenever you want, you know, and then you’re out the door. So this is very important.

What else can we take away though? What are some things that people can do at that dinner table that’s going to help their children to deal with these issues?

Dr. Holly: Well, first of all, asking, “How did your day go?” So that parents know what’s going on in the lives of their kids. So many kids walk in the door after school, head to their room and get on their devices.

Carl: Yeah.

Dr. Holly: And so there’s no communication or conversation, and parents want to believe the best, but if they’re not aware of what’s going on in their kids’ lives, how can they meet those needs?

Carl: Yeah, absolutely. Some of the things that I would encourage you to do is, “Hey, how can we pray for you? I mean, what’s going on in your school world right now? What’s going on with your peers?” Because if we don’t know what’s going on, then we’re not going to like it when we do find out many times, because a lot of times kids are afraid to initiate. So we have to be the initiators. We’re the parents, we’re the adults, so we initiate. We bring those questions out.

And by the way, for the person who wants to say, “Miss Holly, you don’t know my life: I’m too busy! I can’t do this!” How do we deal with that?

Dr. Holly: I’ve heard it said more than once in my life that what you value most is what you will make time for. Shouldn’t we value our kids more than anything else on this earth? You can’t afford not to make time for this. And whether it’s learning how to use a crockpot, you know, so that you have a meal ready when you get home, or picking up fast food, the food is irrelevant. It’s the gathering time that’s the important stuff.

Carl: Yeah, the time that’s spent together is a key thing, and I would encourage that as well. If you think you don’t have time to do it, I’ll say that you don’t have time not to do it, because the consequences of not doing it are apparent. Turn on the news, look at what’s going on. Come spend time with us in a camp. We’re doing a stretch right now where we’re doing 19 camps in nine weeks. We’re with this younger generation, and every one of our speakers can tell you from real experience, this generation is hungry. They’re looking for somebody to do just this: to spend time with them.

Dr. Holly: Mm-hmm.

Carl: All right, so the second thing that they discovered, these families that 25 percent of their children did not walk away, the second thing that they did was they served in church together with their parents.

Dr. Holly: So that would presuppose their parents are in church…

Carl: Yes.

Dr. Holly: …on a regular basis, modeling for their kids this is what worshiping the Lord looks like on Sunday, or whatever day they go. I am amazed how many Christian families will make church one of those optional things in their lives.

Carl: Yeah.

Dr. Holly: And kids need to see that this is something we prioritize, that we’re in church together, we worship together, that we do ministry together. So what are some different ministries you’ve seen families do together?

Carl: You know, I’ll give you a personal experience. My son, when he was about 11, 12, he was basketball, and we love basketball. I coached basketball, I coached a high school basketball team, and we had a tiny gym at our church in Illinois where we were living at the time. 

And so what we decided to do was let’s open up the church…because there weren’t a lot of places that you could play indoor basketball, let’s open it up to the community. So my son and I, we were the first ones there. We cleaned, we set everything up. We did all this, and then the people would come in, and we’d wait till, you know, a certain time when people knew that we were going to do a sermon together, right? Something’s going to happen, so they’d kind of like, try and come in late to miss all that. We’d wait until all the people got there, then we’d get up and do something. But then when they left, we had to do all the cleaning up and all that. 

So I’m a big believer that evangelism is a conversation, not a presentation, and that we’re bound in evangelism by our lack of imagination. We used basketball as a ministry. Sports ministry, to me, is a powerful one. In our church now? Operation Christmas Child. 

Dr. Holly: Yes.

Carl: I mean, I can’t tell you how many hundreds of boxes our church puts together, and it’s families that come together and they do these things. So those are two simple things where the families can serve together. But the key is that they’re serving together.

And then we have one that we also do with the Debunked Bus.

Dr. Holly: Ah!

Carl: During Covid (this was fun), during covid we traveled 1900 miles, and every day we stopped at a different place. One day we did at least two different places, and people came out. Families came out, and then we took them down to a park in whatever city we were in, and the parents shared their faith. And it was like the first time ever for a lot of these families where the children saw their parents sharing their faith. And when we got done, you just can’t believe the responses. It was like the parents were like, “This was awesome!” And then the kids were like, “Man, this was so exciting!” So even something like that you can go do with your family.

Dr. Holly: We did a soup kitchen with our girls.

Carl: There you go.

Dr. Holly: We would go and help prepare the meal, they would help serve it, and then once the homeless people coming in were sitting down and eating, I encouraged our girls to go out and ask them their story. 

Carl: Yeah.

Dr. Holly: When they heard the stories of these people, they would come back and say, “Mom, Dad, we had no idea people lived like that!” And just the burden for others that that builds is invaluable.

Carl: Absolutely. And that’s where it’s real. That’s where the rubber meets the road. That’s putting the feet to it.

Now, the third thing that folks found is that they had—25 percent didn’t walk away, right? They had one spiritual experience in their home during the week. What could we do as parents, grandparents, to facilitate something like that?

Dr. Holly: Well, I may be a little biased, but we have a couple of resources, Carl, that would be fantastic for this. Those spiritual experiences that were the result of that Barna study involved things like prayer time, devotions, just having a spiritual conversation. Well, kids have questions, so one of the number one things that can be done and ties into what Juan was talking about in the poison capsule is tackling those hard questions and helping kids come up with the answers. But a lot of these are questions that adults have, too.

Carl: Absolutely!

Dr. Holly: So we have a book called Did Jesus Commit Suicide? and 27 Other Questions that Teens Are Asking about the Bible that Adults Want to Know Too.

Carl: Right.

Dr. Holly: So go through that together, you know, as a family. Our curriculum—we have a home version of our curriculum that takes them through apologetics, biblical worldview, critical thinking, our Debunked videos, unpacking the rich content in there to prepare them. But the key point being: getting in God’s Word together. Praying together. And the studies show just one time a week made the difference.

Carl: Yeah.

Dr. Holly: So it’s not asking families to do, you know, every night for an hour. It could be one time for 20 minutes in the week.

Carl: Yeah. You know, if you download the app, it’s free of charge, and it’s filled with hours of material. So one of the things that we put in there under the For Children, For Kids section, are the Fast Facts…

Dr. Holly: Mm!

Carl: Fast Fact videos dealing with the design features on an animal. I mean, you go to the zoo, who doesn’t love a zoo? You go to the zoo, you look at the giraffe, and now you as the parent, you can sit and look at the giraffe from a totally different perspective. The world’s going to tell them one way to look at this, right? Given enough time, right circumstances, naturalistic processes. But then we bring in and say, “Okay, let’s take a look at this one feature.” Try saying this quickly: “A giraffe has a two-toned tongue.”

Dr. Holly: Two-toned tongue!

Carl: Half of the tongue, the front, is dark, and the back is light. Now why could that be? Why would they need a two-toned tongue? (Three times!)

Dr. Holly: Tell me!

Carl: Well, think about it: they’re number one food is acacia, right? Acacia tree, and it’s got really nasty thorns on it. I mean, these are nasty thorns. And so they spend a lot of time with that tongue out wrapping around that, pulling the leaves in. So that means that their tongue is exposed to the sun quite a bit. If it was light, like me, I don’t tan, I burn. Their tongue would burn. So many scientists believe that the reason that the front of their tongue is dark is so that they don’t get a sunburned tongue.

Dr. Holly: More pigment in there, yeah.

Carl: So that’s a tiny thing. But then you get into even more. You can spend that time with your child. Those Fast Fact videos, the way that we designed them and the way that they’re in the app is that you watch a 90-second video, then there’s questions based on the video, and you and your children have a 15-20 minute conversation. I called them initially when they came out Dinnertime Devotions, because my goal was to get parents talking with their children about fun stuff, and then you culminate that…

Dr. Holly: Love it!

Carl: …by going to the zoo and putting application to it. So that’s one way of having those conversations.

Dr. Holly: So for teens, if you have teenagers, I’m thinking of our Debunked videos, our Apologetics in 60 Seconds…

Carl: Yep, yep.

Dr. Holly: You talk about teens having a short attention span. Okay, let’s sit down and watch this 60-second Apologetics and talk about it.

Carl: Now, the next thing: they had one faith-focused adult in their lives other than their parents.

Dr. Holly: That’s what kept me in the church. My Sunday school teacher was my next door neighbor.

Carl: Okay.

Dr. Holly: He was also my youth leader, he and his wife. They invested in me more than my mom had time to.

Carl: Right.

Dr. Holly: And because of them I learned God’s Word. I was in God’s Word. They, being my neighbors, they knew if there was anything going on in my life that they might have to have a talk with me about. But that was paramount in my Christian growth growing up. And so I saw that firsthand in my own life.

Carl: Hmm. I didn’t have the Christian, deep Christian faith growing up. My parents’ faith would have been…I believe they believed, but it wasn’t deep. As a matter of fact, with my dad, I really don’t think he believed until later in life. My earliest memory of my father was 6’8”, 350 lbs, one of the nicest guys you’d ever run into, but he snored like a beast. And so in church, snoring, and my mom elbowing him. So that was the example that was set for me. And the person that really laid out Christianity for me was not even a Christian. 

Dr. Holly: Wow!

Carl: So my experience was totally different. When I got married in Japan, my wife is Japanese, so her father is Japanese. Well, all of the guys that I knew that got married to a Japanese lady in Japan at that time, when they got married, the fathers would kick them out of the house. Didn’t want anything to do with their daughters, because they were marrying outside of the Japanese race. And so my father-in-law didn’t do that to us. I went and I worked for him. On my days off I’d go work for him. And after we got married, he actually introduced me as watashi no musuko, “my son.” Not giri no musuko, which is “son-in-law.” I was not a Christian. He and I were drinking buddies. But when I got saved years later, he came over to the United States, and I’ll never forget: they were in our house, and I wasn’t drinking with him anymore. And he was like, “What happened? You’ve changed.” I said, “Otōsan [father], you gave me my first picture of Jesus.” He was like, “What?” I said, “Well, when we got married, everybody else that I knew, they got disowned by their father. You didn’t do that. You took me into your family. You introduced me as your son, not son-in-law. When Jesus did that for me, He made me His son, His child, and the same way that I’m never going to do anything to disrespect you, I can’t do anything to disrespect my heavenly Father. And when I drink, I disrespect Him. So I have to avoid that sort of thing.”

So yes, having that person is vitally important, because I didn’t get it until I was later in life. And so I really pray that I’d have had those guys in my life earlier. So…

Dr. Holly: So us having this conversation and trying to help parents today, and grandparents today, who can be not only that influence, but kind of look out within their churches for someone that they would love to have be a part of their kids’ lives. 

My husband and I have a couple in our church that approached us several months ago, and the mother was in my Sunday school class when I taught a teen girls’ Sunday school class—I won’t say how many years ago, but it was a long time ago—and she now has a 13-year-old daughter. And she asked me if I would mentor her. She said, “I want her to have that influence of someone else other than just me. She’s homeschooled, she’s around us all the time, and we want that opportunity for her to step out.” And so that’s a privilege I have, now that I don’t have kids in my home, to reach out and help someone else.

Carl: You know, and the other thing that I would add is that one faith-focused adult in their life other than your parents, where I’m at right now, is same as you. Can you say “grandparent?”

Dr. Holly: Yes!

Carl: And this is the privilege and the opportunity that we have. Praise God you have somebody asking you to come and help with their children, but I can guarantee that there’s a lot of grandparents out there that you have that opportunity with your own grandchildren. And it’s not easy. I’m not gonna lie. I mean, especially if you have children that have—one of those 75 percent that did walk away and don’t want that around their children. Boy, I can understand that. But you have an opportunity to be able to reach out to a generation that really needs to know that. And again, I love that—find somebody, if you’re that grandparent and you can’t do it with your grandchildren, or you’re an older folk, more mature folk, and you don’t have a child that you can do that in your own family, do like this: find someone that you can pour into, because that is vitally important.

Dr. Holly: So, Carl, something came to mind as you were talking: what about those parents who right now have a child who has walked away from the faith?

Carl: Yeah.

Dr. Holly: And that hits home personally for me. Our oldest daughter had a five-year period where she walked away from our faith, and we felt helpless. She didn’t want to hear it. And what someone encouraged me to do through those times: to pray for her, love her. And how do we love them unless we know the perfect model of love?

Carl: Amen.

Dr. Holly: So when I think about that, it reminds me: we’ve got to be in God’s Word, and we’ve got to be in God’s Word with the kids we still have at home, and about the kids that have maybe walked away. And I know teaching our kids to go to the Bible first, that should be the first place we go. Looking at the example of Christ’s love in the Scriptures helps us to love our children better, and not to want them to be a certain way—to allow them to go “according to their bent,” as you said.

Carl: Yeah, yeah. You know, the last point that we’re going to share with you is one that didn’t really come from Barna, and it’s one that I’ve known for a long time, because I have some friends—one’s a professor at Liberty University, and the other’s with Baptist Admissions. 

Dr. Holly: Okay.

Carl: And they told me, they said, “Carl, we’ve been working with kids a lot of years now, and we have found parents that do one thing, only 3-4 percent of the children in homes of parents that do one thing, are the ones that walk away.” Only 3-4 percent! So I was like, “Okay, so what’s that one percent?” Because they hooked me, they got me.

Dr. Holly: Yeah!

Carl: And they said, “Children that grow up in the homes of parents who are actively engaged in sharing their faith, only 3-4 percent walk away.” Now, to me that ties in with those other things that we have brought up, because if you are modeling, if you are mentoring, if you are doing ministry with your child, if you have trained your child to have their own ministry, which I believe is vitally important as well—every youth needs to have their own ministry, something that they’re passionate about! And it doesn’t have to be what I do. I mean, my son did not want to speak, but now he’s a youth pastor. He wanted to be the guy in the background. 

What is it? If your children are seeing you want to get out into public and open your mouth and share the love of Christ with people, I would just about bet that those other things are happening. I would just about bet that the drive to and from church wasn’t like a battleground, and then you get in church and everybody puts on game face: “Hey, yeah, we’re perfect!” No. If you’re willing as a parent to go out and live this, and be real with it, I think those other things are falling into place. So to me it wraps all those pieces together, that if I’m doing this and I’m doing this and I’m doing this, this is almost a natural extension of all these things, and it ties it together like a bow. 

You see, guys, there is no other way to do this other than the parents to really get involved. Can’t tell you how many young folks we’ve worked with that have just been blown away at the fact that we’ll come in and we’ll take on a tough topic and not run from it. And that’s what you need to do: you need to be able to take these issues and break them down in a way to teach them how to start from the Word of God, that absolutely authority, that absolute standard from which we can judge everything else, and apply it in a world that’s gone crazy. That’s reality. Our children are within our reach. Our grandchildren are within our reach. You can do this. It’s not going to be easy, won’t lie to you. But you will never, ever regret spending the time to go after this younger generation.

Narrator: Okay, you’ve seen the problems, and we’ve given you some action steps. Now what are you going to do with what you’ve been given? You’re now receiving the Call to Action handout, which can also be found online at rforh.com/worhandout. Take the next few moments as music is played to thoughtfully respond to what is being asked. This is your opportunity to take the first step. Remember, your children are within your reach.