“Listen to this,” I told my son, “according to this study 88% of children raised in evangelical Christian homes will leave the church by the age of 18.”
What do you think?” I asked. “Do you think you will ever be a part of this 88%?”
My son turns 16 next week. He is just a few years shy of this age. So I genuinely wanted to know his thoughts on the subject.
“I don’t know, Mom” he replied. “But I do know that if I ever did get out of church that I would have you and Dad and my church family there to exhort, admonish, and encourage me to come back.”
I explained to my son that none of us are above falling into sin, or are we immune from straying from the fellowship. But I assured him that should that happen in his life that he would always be loved and prayed for.
It was comforting to know that my teenage son had a clear understanding of part of the ministry of the local fellowship. He understood that if he were to stray from God (and then the church as a result) that his brothers and sisters in Christ would be there to hold him accountable.
Regardless of what some will say today, exhortation is a biblical principle.
“Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren…” (2Co 9:5)
“Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.” (1Th 4:1)
“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.” (1Th 5:14)
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2Ti 4:2)
“These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” (Tit 2:15)
It is detrimental to a person’s spiritual growth to be removed from the fellowship of the local church. Yet, many enthusiastically walk away. When this happens in a young person’s life and they fall into sin, it’s good to know that their parents will always be there. But how much more powerful is it knowing that a whole group of others who love you is there as well – bearing your burdens, lifting you up in prayer, holding you accountable, admonishing you when you sin, and rebuking you in love.
A church that truly loves each other will exhort one another. We do it because we love. We do it because it pleases God. We do it because if we don’t, sin will harden our hearts.
“But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb 3:13)