I recently read an article talking about the growing popularity of witchcraft among teens and millennials in America. The article said that while interest in Christianity and religion is decreasing every year, belief in horoscopes, tarot cards and palm reading is increasing. Not only do more and more people feel that it is ok, studies show that over 50% of millennials believe that astrology is a science and read their horoscopes daily. I believe that part of this acceptance is due to the normalcy that modern culture puts on New-Age references. Board games, computer games, children’s-fiction, video games, TV shows and other forms of entertainment make the occult seem normal and permissible.
However, I believe that there is a much larger reason as to why so many teenagers and millennials are leaning towards witchcraft (or other similar mediums) for guidance. I believe it is because we are created to look to the supernatural for direction, and many are not finding it in the Church.
As human beings, we have a deep sense that there must be something beyond us. Even though many Americans would say they are not religious, a recent study said that 89% of Americans still say they believe in a god or a universal spirit. It is in our very DNA to long for something beyond us, and we crave a connection to the supernatural. Almost every person still prays to something when her or she is about to get into a car accident or a close friend is dying. All humans are desperate for something beyond them, and yet, so often in modern churches, people go to a church service and leave without ever connecting to the supernatural. Christianity to many people is a good, moral worldview, but in reality, seems absent of any sort of real power.
It makes sense that people who are actually desperate for a real power beyond themselves may have gone to a church and left because they didn’t find it there. It may not be that they like the idea of Satan over God, but more so that they see the evidence of something beyond them in witchcraft and just a bunch people doing “good things” church. If they are already struggling with how to get through life in their own power, a worldview comprised primarily of a list of rules is not what they need. They need something real.
So how, as Christians, do we help prevent our children from falling into this same trap? Do we try to scare our kids into obedience by forbidding them to interact with anything associated to the devil or the demonic? I don’t think so. In fact, in many ways I feel that this approach does more harm than good, because it is giving off the impression that Satan is stronger than God. 1 John 4:4 says, “For he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world!” Instead of just telling our kids to avoid Satan, we have to show our kids an even greater power-- the power of Jesus Christ. Once they actually encounter the greater power, they will be able to recognize the counterfeit power that the enemy offers as fool’s gold compared to true gold.
John 1:5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.” Light is always stronger than darkness. You cannot turn on the light in the room and have darkness decide to stay--it must leave. We should not be afraid of Satan, but rather, he should be afraid of us! The problem is not whether God is more powerful than Satan, but whether we are actually giving God opportunities to show his power.
Our churches need to be places where people come in and encounter something that is beyond themselves. We have to start asking him to speak and learning how to listen. We have to start praying and expecting God to answer. We have to start asking for miracles and sharing testimonies-- and this will only become real in our churches when it becomes normal in our homes. True encounters with God start around your dinner table, in your car while driving to soccer practice and in your kids’ bedrooms at night when you pray.
Some practical ways to lead your kids to actually encounter a real and living God are as follows:
1. Pray for real things and share testimonies around the dinner table about how God is actually responding to your prayers. All too often we pray for things at night with our kids but don’t report back on how God answers or how He is responding to our prayers. This makes God look like an unresponsive statue-- when in reality he is more real than anything around us! We need to teach them how to listen as they pray and look for answers to their prayers over the next few days and weeks.
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”- James 5:16
2. Read Scripture together as a family every day, and teach your children how to hear God’s voice through it. All too often we just study the Word like a textbook, but don’t learn how to let God actually speak to us through it. Have them ask God questions, and then as you read scripture together, have them share what God was putting on their heart in response to the passage.
“Direct my footsteps according to your word…”- Psalm 119:113
“For the word of God is alive and active.”- Hebrews 4:12
3. Teach your kids how to encounter God during worship. All too often our children think that worship is just singing songs about God-- when in reality it is so much more. Teach them how to actually connect their hearts to their Creator and respond to what He is doing in their lives with an overflow of worship. One way you can do this is put on worship music at home, give them some crayons and have them draw what comes to mind as they hear the words of the song and share what they felt God was speaking to them through the lyrics. You can also have them write out a list of things they saw God do in their life over the past week before they enter into worship so they actually have something to worship Him about. Another idea is to ask and encourage them to write their own worship songs, or write out prayers during worship rather than just singing someone else’s lyrics.
“Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your love is better than life, my lips will praise You.”- Psalm 63:2-3
4. Teach them to ask God for ideas. When they are struggling with something, have them ask God to put an idea in their mind and share that idea with you so that you can help guide them with whether the idea lines up with scripture. If they don’t learn to ask God for ideas, they will begin to want to go to other sources such as horoscopes, tarot readings and astrology for guidance. God loves to speak to his children, and loves to respond when we ask Him for wisdom!
“As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.”- Psalm 138:3
5. Teach them how to walk with God. Take time regularly to pray as a family, and have each person ask God to put someone on their mind or heart to reach out to as well as what they should do for that person. They may have an idea to call a grandparent, or feel like God wants them to write an encouraging note to the homeless guy on the corner. Once everyone shares their ideas, go out and do them and then report back what happened. By teaching them how to live in response to the urgings of the Holy Spirit, they will learn that life with God is so much more exciting and real than just living a life trying to make themselves happy.
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."- Isaiah 30:21
Most of all, pray for your children. Pray that they will encounter the presence and power of God in a real way. Pray that they will get to know his voice, follow his promptings, and be a light in the darkness. Pray that they become a force to be reckoned with, and that whenever Satan hears their footsteps, he will tremble and flee. Knowing the reality of a powerful God not only means that they can resist the temptation of a lower power, but also that they will be the ones charging the darkness with the light of Christ. Parents, do not be afraid, but instead, lead your kids to experience the reality of the truth that our God is stronger!