‘Fake’ Christians

More studies are backing up the facts that we are losing a generation of teens in the church.

Author: More teens becoming ‘fake’ Christians

If you’re the parent of a Christian teenager, Kenda Creasy Dean has this warning:

Your child is following a “mutant” form of Christianity, and you may be responsible.

Dean says more American teenagers are embracing what she calls “moralistic therapeutic deism.” Translation: It’s a watered-down faith that portrays God as a “divine therapist” whose chief goal is to boost people’s self-esteem.

Dean drew her conclusions from what she calls one of the most depressing summers of her life. She interviewed teens about their faith after helping conduct research for a controversial study called the National Study of Youth and Religion.

The study, which included in-depth interviews with at least 3,300 American teenagers between 13 and 17, found that most American teens who called themselves Christian were indifferent and inarticulate about their faith.

The study included Christians of all stripes — from Catholics to Protestants of both conservative and liberal denominations. Though three out of four American teenagers claim to be Christian, fewer than half practice their faith, only half deem it important, and most can’t talk coherently about their beliefs, the study found.

Teens want to be challenged; they want their tough questions taken on, she says.

“We think that they want cake, but they actually want steak and potatoes, and we keep giving them cake,” Corrie says.


15 thoughts on “‘Fake’ Christians

  1. “We think that they want cake, but they actually want steak and potatoes, and we keep giving them cake,” Corrie says.

    I believe that, too. My husband and I teach Sunday school to 3/4 graders and the materials we use are very cakey. We are trying to make them into a full meal. One that will stick!

    Berean Wife Reply:


    Well over ten years ago my husband stopped using the canned curriculum for Sunday School when he taught. He went to writing his own lessons. The Life Way curriculum was and still is just horrible. No meat, same lessons, same points over and over…

    Children that age will just devour lessons that actually answer their questions. Where did Cain get his wife? Dinosaurs on the ark? They want to study Revelations and Daniel, they like the prophecy lessons. I’m afraid many children are dying of starvation sitting at a banquet of cake. 🙁

    Berean Wife

    Ma Reply:

    We usually take the “lesson” for the week and just verse by verse it through that portion of scripture. I think the Sunday School lessons are just so dumbed down that it is not even funny. The kids do need answers to their tough questions and even an honest “I don’t know” is much more gratifying to me as a student than something made up.

    Berean Wife Reply:


    If you don’t know an answer and admit it and then encourage the children to help you examine the Scriptures for the answer, they love it. We may not ever answer all the hard questions but we can often rule out some potential answers. Children will read and study their Bibles if given a good reason for it.

    Berean Wife

  2. I can relate to this story as I have three teenagers who all confess Christ and only one who shows any sign of having a serious desire for the things of God apart from her father and me.

    The good news here is that we see the potential pitfalls of simply assuming that they are truly converted because they say they are. And we pray and parent accordingly, recognizing that it is God who saves, and not us.

    Another important factor is that we confront them whenever the door is opened to the truth of what it means to be a follower of Christ. I think the worst thing a parent can do is become complacent because their kid stood in a prayer line at a youth service.

    “You shall know them by their fruits” applies to our children, too.

    Berean Wife Reply:


    When you have teens it is very hard to tell how much faith they have and how much is just following along with their parents. You always wonder would they go to church or do anything related to faith if it wasn’t for parents, church friends and/or sheer habit. At least they are not in the rebellious category where you know they are rejecting the faith. It is hard and we can only pray that the Lord will call them.

    You’ve recognized the biggest hurdle though. That children who may have prayed a prayer, been baptized and even served actively in the church may not be believers in a real heart sense. There are several in our church who came to that realization as adults serving as deacons that they truly weren’t saved. We’ve baptized three youth who had made the profession of faith as young children and yet realized they just did what was expected with no heart change.

    It is always wise to encourage everyone, young or old to examine themselves and see if they are in the faith. (2 Corinthians 13:5)

    Ten Tests of True Christianity

    Ten “Christians” God Will Not Allow Into Heaven

    Six Signs of a False Conversion

    These are all good ways to examine yourself as an adult but they aren’t really as helpful for children and youth. One pastor I heard explain how can you check the fruit of a child or youth suggested the most important fruit in their life will be willing obedience to parents even if it causes self-sacrifice and hardship.

    But I know you know that. 🙂

    Complacency is a very bad thing. Always be willing to question and examine, parents are “fruit inspectors”. 🙂

    Berean Wife

    Ma Reply:

    Being as we’re all mothers I think it is often tempting to prompt a profession out of our kids in order to help us feel better.

    I have tried not to do that and just pray pray pray for the salvation of my little ones.

    Berean Wife Reply:


    You know if I was not as familiar with many who as a child made professions and were baptized but never again stepped foot in a church I might would have been more likely to push for a profession myself. I can’t tell you how many adults I know now that admit they didn’t believe unto salvation as a child. They admit they didn’t just rededicate – they weren’t saved to begin with.

    It would be nice if we moms could see a little mark on their foreheads to know they were saved. But the Lord doesn’t do that, I guess so we don’t slack in prayer for them. I think though at some point He does allow us some peace and comfort for some of our children’s salvation.

    Berean Wife

  3. I agree with this. Our oldest daughter (who suffered under the teachings of a youth pastor who was removed from his position before her Senior year of High School) moved away last year and has worked at a Christian thrift shop for the past year. We have now found out that she has not been completely honest (imagine an honest teenager!) with us. She has now moved in with her boyfriend (although she says that she is still waiting until marriage for intimacy…). However, we believe that her fruits are showing otherwise and I am convinced that she did not have a true conversion and am praying for her.

    I am now being asked about baptism by my 6 year old and although I believe she is too young to fully comprehend, I am answering her questions and allowing her to take the lead in responding. I am hoping that it is God working in her since we have tried to raise her on biblical principles, but then again, I don’t want her Christian foundation to be her parents either when it should be Jesus Christ.

    Berean Wife Reply:


    I’m so sorry to hear that. 🙁 I can’t imagine how heartbroken you’ve been over your daughter. Continue to pray for her and I pray that the seeds of the gospel that have been planted through the years will begin to grow. I’m sure more of these moms will also pray for her. Has she ever listened to Paul Washer’s sermon for youth?

    Are You Saved?

    Many, many youth have come to realize how they were just playing at Christianity in their youth groups through listening to his sermon.

    When my middle children were younger and they were in the typical SS classes, I had to fight to get the teachers to not pressure them for decisions and professions. I remember having lengthy talks with two teachers who felt my children were ready for a profession and baptism. They felt since my children knew all the answers that they were ready, but honestly any child who has grown up in the church knows the answers in their head, but the key though is their heart. As a mom I knew they weren’t ready but would comply if asked.

    With my children I just answer their questions and explain what is expected of believers but I don’t pressure them nor do I allow others to pressure them into a decision. I want the Lord to be the One pressuring, not man. (That is a little different with adults – you can pressure adults to decide today. Adults don’t tend to just want to please others.) Thankfully, we are in a church now that realizes that children are not usually fully prepared to count the cost of salvation nor to appreciate what Christ has done for us. (Course, most of us adults don’t either. 🙁 ) If your daughter is truly ready then this won’t be a passing fancy due to another friend’s baptism but it will be something she continually contemplates and comes back to.

    I’ll be praying for both your daughters and you.

    Berean Wife

    Teri Reply:

    Thank you for the prayers. We can definately us them. You are “spot on” when you say that they can have the answers in their head. My oldest knows all of the “sunday school answers” from years of church. I don’t believe they have found their way to her heart yet.

    @Ma: Thank you for your encouragement. I believe that we are saved once and if we are truly saved, there is not a turning away from the faith. Yes, as Christians we can fall for a moment (we are after all human), but we do not continue in the sin after being admonished for the sin if we are truly in the faith. She was told that it is a sin to live with a member of the opposite sex outside of marriage (not quite that bluntly). She even lost her job due to choosing to live with this boy (and his 40 year old roommate). However, she chose to continue to move in with the boy. All we can do at this point is pray that God will bring her through it (with minimal scarring) and guide her to Him.

    Berean Wife Reply:


    The Lord can work on her heart just not always in our timing. I pray that He does so sooner than later. I also pray your visit with your grandmother is successful.

    Berean Wife

    Ma Reply:

    I’m so sorry Teri. I wouldn’t say she wasn’t saved though, I think all teenagers will go through some sort of rebellion..think of the prodigal son… that will break our hearts. Mine are still young and I am not looking forward to it. May the Lord give you strength and comfort.

    BW, I am on the same page with the forced professions. It is something I was upset about at our church, but have decided that the MR. and I will be the ones to lead our children to Christ and are not leaving it up to SS teachers. I think a forced and too early profession does much more harm than good. If they are HIS, it will be made manifest in its time.

  4. I think many years of being around teenagers and youth groups with canned curriculum has jaded me. Mark has for several years now written his own curriculum. We have seen far too many false converts in our days. I love this article. I posted it on my facebook pages one day. It says so many things Mark and i have been saying for years. So many churches are opting for *fun* and *cool* rather than Biblical. If we (churches in general) would really teach rather than try to make kids happy about themselves, the fruit would speak for itself.

    Berean Wife Reply:


    I can understand how frustrating it can be to see youth that you’ve known in the church just fade away, walk away or continue to play at church with no real faith. Those are so hard to reach I wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to have never been in the church than to get the skewed perception of Christianity some churches give.

    Keep giving them the meat of the Bible and the Lord will produce the fruit. 🙂

    Berean Wife

Comments are closed.