Sean McDowell | June 30, 2020

Don’t Teach Your Kids to Be Christian for the BENEFITS. Teach Them to Be Christian Because It is TRUE.

Not long ago I had lunch with a group of young Christians from the same youth group. After discussing social media, sports, and a few other topics, I asked them a simple question, “Why are you a Christian?” Here’s the main answers I received:

  • My parents are Christians
  • I enjoy going to youth group
  • My friends go to youth group
  • I enjoy being a Christian
  • Christianity gives me a purpose

Let me ask you a simple question: Are these good reasons anyone should be a Christian? To me, the answer is clearly no. Here’s why.

Being Christian for the Benefit

Except for the first response, the main reason these kids gave me for being Christian was the benefits they personally received from attending youth group. They enjoyed the social and relational aspect of the group and it gives them purpose in life.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with enjoying youth group. And I love that students can find purpose in a Christian activity! But if a young person goes to youth group because they enjoy it, what happens when it is no longer fun? What happens when something else becomes more enjoyable? The answers are obvious.

If you are a Christian because of the relational and social dynamics in youth group, what happens if those relationships break down? What happens if you find better relationships somewhere else? Again, the answers are obvious.

It is also a poor ultimate reason to be a Christian because of one’s parents. If we should follow the faith of our parents, it would follow that kids with Muslim parents should be Muslim and kids with atheist parents should be atheists. And further, what if parents change their religion? I have personally seen this happen with the parents of my own students.

Why Be A Christian?

When it is all said and done, there is only one good reason to be a Christian: If it is true. If Christianity is true, then believe it. If not, don’t waste your time.

The apostle Paul said, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Cor. 15:14). If Jesus stayed in the grave, claims Paul, then Christians are to be pitied for their false faith. But if he rose from the grave, then Jesus is the God of the universe and the Christian story is true (Rom. 1:4).

If we teach young people to be Christians because of the benefits, then they will likely abandon their faith when the benefits no longer outweigh the costs. But if we teach young people to be Christians because it is true, and we equip them with good reasons why it is true, we put them in good position to stay strong even when their faith costs them something.

If you are looking for a resource to know why Christianity is true, so you can share it with your kids, check out the updated Evidence that Demands A Verdict (co-written with my father, Josh McDowell).

Evidence that Demands A Verdict (updated)

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author, popular speaker, and part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell, TikTok, Instagram, and his blog: