The following is a review of Already Gone: Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it by Ken Ham.
It is a compiled and edited version of my “Review by Twitter” which consisted mostly of brief elliptical quotes from the book along with some summaries and comments. This only gives you a small taste of what you will find in the book Already Gone by Ken Ham.
Already Gone legitimately calls into question some of our folk wisdom and pet presuppositions about church and ministry. The last chapter of Already Gone is a call of accountability for parents and church leaders. Already Gone is a valuable resource and I highly recommend it.
Statistics of Disengagement from Church
twenty-somethings – 61% … – had been churched … during their teen years but … are now spiritually disengaged” “20% of those who were spiritually active during high school are maintaining a similar level of commitment.” “[If this trend continues] we are one generation away from the evaporation of church as we know it.”
England, once evangelist to the world – “only 2.5 percent of the population is attending Bible-based churches.” “Where Europe is today spiritually, America will be tomorrow – and for the same reasons …”
Children from evangelical families, 95% attended church in elementary-middle school; 55 % in high school; 11% in college. Surprise: So most children were actually gone from church in high school, not college. “We are losing many more people by middle school and … high school than … in college.” 39.8% first doubted the Bible in middle school; 43.7% first doubted in high school; 10.6% first doubted in college.
Sunday School’s Negative Effect
“Our research uncovered … Sunday school is … detrimental to the spiritual and moral health of our children.” “students who regularly attend Sunday school are … more likely to doubt the Bible … defend abortion … premarital sex … more likely to accept … gay marriage … become anti-church” etc. “Sunday School … is contributing to the epidemic … these numbers are statistically significant … “
“It’s safe to say that Sunday school attendance is tied to higher percentages of belief in evolution.” “if you are depending on these [S.S.] programs to properly teach and influence your children, it is just not happening.” “maybe youth ministry shouldn’t be fixed because [it] IS a major part of the problem?!” “youth ministry and Sunday school allows parents to shrug off their responsibilities as … teachers … to their family.” “It’s not just the Sunday school, it’s the sermon, the VBS, it’s most of the teaching programs … “
“Radical renovation is needed urgently. We are losing the next generation – we are losing the culture.”
“Deuteronomy 6:4-10 and Ephesians 6:1-4 clearly exhort parents to teach, disciple, and train their own children.” “the responsibility for ministry to our kids has never been removed from the parents.” “your church [should be] stepping up to the plate to equip you [to teach your kids God’s Word].”
[Comment: the Bible teaches that parents teach kids God’s Word, but parents, by their actions, teach kids that the Church teaches kids God’s Word. Supplement and complement does not mean delegate. Emergency does not mean the normal state of affairs.]
Of 60% students who no longer go to church, part say the Bible is irrelevant, the other part say the church is irrelevant.
“For creationists … humans were perfect … then there was the fall, [death,] deterioration and degeneration.” “With evolution you start with primitive little wiggly things, [then] progress from single-celled animals to humans.”
“[Now, in school] kids learn what they perceive is the real stuff, the relevant stuff. In Sunday school they learn ‘Bible stories.’” “The Bible, God, and the Church became irrelevant in less than three generations.”
“What happened in Europe [in the last century] is happening [in America] today. We are on the same road.” “Our spirituality has become compartmentalized. … the Church basically disconnected the Bible from the real world.” “Effectively, the Church basically hands over the history of the universe to the secular educational institutions.” “[We are] taught that in church, one doesn’t deal with [science, but only] with doctrines and … spiritual matters.”
Believing in Billions of Years Casts Doubt on the Bible
77% of Americans believe in the flood; 75% in Adam and Eve; 62% in Abraham fathering Isaac; 60% in the tower of Babel. “yet only 20% believe that the earth is less than 10,000 years old” “The number-one area of disbelief is the age of the earth.” “Compromising Genesis has contributed to the loss of biblical authority … “ “Believing in millions of years … does affect how the next generation … [views] Scripture … “
“the majority of the people leaving the Church do not believe in evolution.” “millions of years is the issue; it’s not really evolution.” “the day age theory, … the gap theory, … progressive creation … supposedly fitting millions of years … into the Bible … “ “millions of years 1. … undermines the authority of … the Bible … 2. … leaves open an excuse to justify … evolution”
“If they won’t believe what the Bible teaches about earthly things, how will they believe about the heavenly things?” John 3:12 “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?”
“[A child] can’t discern the difference between observational [fact based] and historical [conjecture based] … science.” “[A child] will get about 10 minutes of focused … input … this week at church, … none of it will include science.” “many of the “facts” … learned [at school] seem to contradict … faith – but no one talks about those things at church.” “[To a child,] church people seem to have faith in spite of the ‘facts’”
“Satan laid down the doubt … [not] a direct accusation at first – just a hint of a suggestion … a slight possibility:”
“Did God really say … ?” … the question is always the same. “Did God really say … ?” “casting doubt into the truthfulness of what God has said and the relevance of God’s words in practical everyday life.”
“an attack on the Word of God is an attack on the gospel.” “Ultimately, every single biblical doctrine of theology … is founded in the historical account given in Genesis 1-11.” “What we have actually done is made man the authority over God’s Word.” “man can reinterpret God’s Word according to what the majority in the culture might [want to] believe.” “We think that … because [someone] … is not directly attacking Jesus or the Cross that he’s not attacking them at all.” “In Europe [19th and early 20th century] the attack began when scientists threw doubt on the age of the earth.” “Did God really say” … was meant to cause Adam and Eve to reinterpret God’s Word [to] … determine truth for themselves.” “The culture went from being built on the foundation of God’s Word to being built on the foundation of man’s word.”
2 Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
Applying the Truth of God’s Word is What’s Relevant
“music is seen by many … [as what] will draw people in … [but] research showed … [people] … want good teaching!” “cultural forms do not make you relevant, they just make you cool. Truth makes you relevant.”
“the foundation of the authority of the Word of God both inside and outside the Church needs to be rebuilt.” “The Church needs to … diligently deal with the issues by introducing relevant apologetics courses.” “Most Sun school lessons, sermons … are not … [answering] questions of the day … connecting the Bible to the real world.”
“Church leaders today … think that programs, entertainment, music … are … need to reach people … keep them in .church.” “[Research showed] that people want good Bible teaching … making it relevant to them in today’s world … “
1 Peter 3:15 … always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you …
“disconnect between faith & fact is nothing but an illusion created by an overwhelming misinterpretation of the facts.” “Good observational science supports faith. … It’s time to bring the facts back into our faith.” “practically, in this culture we are talking about answering the skeptical questions to uphold the Word … “
Leaving the Irrelevant Church
“over half … who have left the Church are still … believers in J. C. … the Bible is relevant … but the Church is not.” “at least half of those who are leaving the Church haven’t left the faith; they have left the fellowship.” “‘Church’ has become an institution that no longer reflects the characteristics and priorities … in the Word of God.” “the Church is losing men as well as it is young adults.” [see David Murrow, Why Men Hate Going to Church]
“People within the Church are not living authentically Christian lives based on the Word of God.” “the number-one perception of the Christian Church today … comes down to one word – hypocrisy.” “one of the reasons people aren’t living by the Word is that they aren’t being taught the Word.” “church people by and large just do not understand that the Bible has to be the foundation for all of our thinking.” “Thus their worldview becomes a mixture of biblical morality and human opinion.”
“evangelical churches pride themselves on doing things ‘by the Book.’ But is that really the case?” “Are our churches built on the Word of God or the wisdom of man?” “In the Western world … “church” … [brings] to mind: a building, an order of service, sermons/Sunday school, and musical worship.” “How many of these ‘church’ things are found in Scripture? How many of them are man-made traditions?”
“There is not a single place in the New Testament where the term ‘church’ refers to a building.” “ecclesia [=‘church’] in the N.T. refers to a gathering or network of believers in Christ, not a physical structure … “
“every evangelical Christian service follows the same basic format for ‘church’ every time we meet.” “you can look through the entire N.T. and find no … suggestion … Christian gathering should follow such an order.” “there’s nothing biblical about it … and yet it’s one of the most important aspects of our … definition of ‘church.’” “By the 4th century, the ‘Church’ had adopted a format … a single man stood in front of a passive audience and lectured.” “in the first-century … teaching believers was done in an interactive small group setting.”
“Sunday school didn’t appear … until Robert Raikes of England … in 1780 … it’s not a biblical element of ‘church.’ “So then, if your Sunday school isn’t working, … why not do something different!?”
“the type of [musical] worship that dominates and controls so much of ‘church’ cannot be found in the N.T. … at all.” “music isn’t the reason our young adults are leaving, and it’s not the reason that they will come back.” “… not saying music is [or the other things are] wrong – it is all a matter of what the focus and priority … should be.”
“Do you know the seven last words of the Church? – we’ve never done it this way before!”
“if one of the … Apostles visited … today, he wouldn’t have any sort of a clue that he was in a Christian gathering” “‘Church’ today is … driven by man-made traditions … not by … biblical mandates to defend … and live by the Word of God”
“Willow Creek … seeker-sensitive … [church did] a … survey … to see if their church was really helping people grow.” “Church activity alone made no direct impact on growing the heart … it was a flat line … a stunning discovery for us.”
Mark 7:7-8 “ … in vain they worship Me … For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men.”
“When it comes to ‘doing church,’ are we relying on man’s wisdom or God’s Word?” “If the forms and traditions that we use … aren’t working, we have a responsibility … to change … provided … we do not neglect the commandments of God.” “unless we know what the Bible means by ‘church,’ all of our efforts and concerns might be misguided.” “We need to be willing to question all assumptions that we have about ‘church’ and let the bible speak for itself.” “church is supposed to be … a community of people whose lives are empowered, directed, and energized … by personal interaction with the Word of God and with each other.” “churches [need to] connect with reality and regain … relevance … lost [from focusing] … on our man-made traditions.”
“Some traditions need to be kept, others are optional, and some need changing.” “typical church does not provide [personal connections with other members] or relevant teaching to their young adults.” “Much of the activity of young adults … takes place outside congregations.” “young people who have left the Church … are trying to find it elsewhere … they’re not finding it within the buildings” “right or wrong, they are redefining what ‘church’ means to their generation.” “ … movements are arising … that are not biblical, … but seem … attractive … more ‘loving’ and ‘gentle’ and ‘caring.’” “these churches have no real foundation – no real substance.”
“Many seekers across the world have shifted to information on the Internet instead of going to a place called church.”
“The resurgence in the ‘home church movement’ has been significant.” “Many people feel … this … is a step backward … that home churches lack accountability, order, resources, … authority.” “Many of the young adults who to them, however, feel like they have been ‘burned’ by a traditional church.” “They … make it known that home churches are not just a place where … renegade lone rangers go to tie up their horses.”
“[para-church] organizations … take up the slack where the traditional churches have been dropping the ball.” “many of these organizations excel at defending God’s Word and living by God’s Word.” “Answers in Genesis is a para-church organization … raised up to assist the Church.” “[We pray] one of the consequences of this book is that churches will be changed from the inside out by the Word of God.”
“committed believers … [need] to find a group of individuals that prioritizes the sharing of the Word of God … teaching how to defend the Christian faith and uphold the authority of the Word in today’s world … and lives by the principles of the Word of God.”
“80,000 surveys … revealed: … [reflecting] on the meaning of Scripture in [one’s] life is most predictive of growth.” “True spiritual growth and a healthy church all start with an individual … accepting the Word of God for what it is … and treating it accordingly.”
1 Peter 2:2-3 “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby”
A New Reformation
“we need … a new Reformation … to call the Church back to the authority of the Word of God, beginning in Genesis.”
“The current Sunday school … can even be significantly detrimental to the beliefs and the faith of the children” “The current state of ministry to twenty-somethings is woefully inadequate to address the spiritual needs … of young adults.” “We need to defend the Word and we need to live the Word.”
2 Timothy 2:15 “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed … accurately handling the word of truth.”
“a four-pronged approach … Parents,Christian educators,youth pastors,&pastors … teaching creation and biblical apologetics”
“To Parents … Action points
 … submit yourself to [God] to be used as a tool … for ministry in your own home. …
 Make the Word of God a natural presence in your home.
 Evaluate your church.”
“Your first priority as a parent is to live the Word of God in a natural, sincere way. … Deut. 6:4-9” “The faith of your family starts with you.” It’s your job to [show your kids] … how to answer the skeptical questions of this age.” “Show that that you do not compromise God’s Word with man’s fallible word.” “You can no longer depend on the Sun. school and youth ministries … this was never their responsibility in the first place.”
“To the Christian Educator … Action Points …
 Humble yourself before God … (Matt. 18:6)
 Make your own spiritual life a priority.
 Take responsibility.
 Get trained.
 Get armed … with solid curriculum [confronting skeptics].
 Teach Bible history, not Bible stories.”
“one of your major objectives is to help students … make a connection between the Bible and reality.”
“To the Youth Pastor … Action Points …
 … recommit yourself to effective ministry. …youth ministry should [not favor the] ‘cool’ factor … but whether teens have resources to pursue Christ intentionally …
 Equip your parents.
 Develop teenager’s abilities to contemplate and develop their own personal worldview.”
“To the Pastor … Action Points …
 Reevaluate your call. … (2Tim. 4:1-4) … (Eph. 4:12-13).
 Simplify and clarify your objectives.
 Draw some lines in the sand.
 Defend the Word.
 Teach the Word.
 Teach about the Word.
 Teach about the Church.
 Back off on the entertainment factor.
 Pass the torch.”
“We call for a new reformation. … we need … to call the Church back to the authority of the Word of God.”
Martin Luther: “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the Word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him. Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle front besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”