Focus on the Family's James Dobson said the family is disintegrating, and Christians may soon lose the ability to win younger generations for Christ.
Citing Barna research showing that individuals only have a 6 percent chance of accepting Christ once they pass their eighteenth birthday, Dobson said if the family collapses, then the "soil in which the seed of the gospel is planted will turn acidic."
Dobson made his comments June 13 at the closing session of this year's Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, where he was scheduled to appear live but instead spoke via satellite uplink when mechanical problems forced his plane to make an emergency landing back in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Saying the latest U.S. Census reveals "the dam has broken" in regards to the family, Dobson said households with unmarried partners have increased 72 percent, single mothers have increased 25 percent, single fathers have increased 62 percent, and for the first time ever, the nuclear family has fallen below 25 percent among all American households. In addition, 70 percent of all African American children are born out of wedlock, Dobson said.
Even though these statistics are a "shocker," Dobson said most Americans have responded to the news with a yawn and "there's hardly been a peep from Washington."
The destruction of the family is particularly hard on boys, who are "more likely to get into difficulty when there is chaos in the family," Dobson said, noting that divorce, in general, deprives boys of a role model more than girls.
Dobson said when he was sixteen his own father deliberately limited a successful ministry as an evangelist so he could come in off the road and be with James for the last two years of high school. That sacrifice "let me know that I mattered to him," Dobson said.
"Pastor, does building your church outrank the spiritual welfare of your own children?" Dobson asked. "Would it be enough if you built a gigantic church and your own children don't know the Lord?"
And if you're a layman, "Pray for your kids everyday," Dobson counseled. "If you feed them watery soup when they're young, they'll spit it out when they're old." Rather, teach them there is an absolute truth, Dobson said.
Closing with an anecdote recalling how children once learned the value of working all day on the family farm, Dobson told Southern Baptists that the fight for their families demand that they stay in the fields, no matter how tired or discouraged they may be.