The town we are visiting hosts an annual “Gospel Song Fest” featuring groups from around the U.S. and Canada. My husband and I enjoy all types of Christian music and eagerly attended the three-day concert.

When seated, I began noticing most of those attending were our age or older. I jokingly remarked that I had never seen so much gray hair. Where were the younger generations? Was it the type of music being sung? Probably, and that’s okay. Everyone has a style of music they prefer. But was the lack of interest because of the music, or a growing disinterest in all things Christian?

I’ve observed the same phenomena at the many churches we’ve visited in our travels. Large churches with active children’s programs tend to have a good number of young families while small and mid-size churches not so many. What could be the reason for the decline in church attendance by young people?

I have to look inward. What shaped my personal belief and value system? How did I first learn about God? It was, of course, in my home. I can’t remember a time when God or the things of God was not a natural part of everyday conversation.

I first learned of God’s power to heal by hearing the story told, more than once, by my Mother, of having been near death as a young woman. She had a high fever that the doctor was unable to bring down. She finally awoke, the fever broken, and saw her teenage brother on his knees beside the bed praying for her. She was telling us what a good brother she had. The truth that stayed with me was, the power of God and his willingness to intervene in the affairs of men.

I was taught scripture. My elementary school was about five long city blocks from our home. On cold dark mornings Mother would walk a friend and me to school. It was a time spent learning multiplication tables and Bible verses. We would start with John 3:16, Psalms 23, and, later, entire passages on the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was made enjoyable, challenging, and the blocks disappeared quickly. Throughout the long walk, my knowledge was increased and values were being shaped.

Music in the home consisted of my grandmother playing hymns on the piano and the painful noises of my brother learning to play cello. Efforts were also made to teach me piano but were unsuccessful! The radio was tuned to a Christian station where we heard hymns and radio ministers. If you are my age, you may remember the radio minister and Bible teacher, J. Vernon McGee. It was a program my mother never missed. Secular music was not played in our home. I never thought about it; never missed it. We did not own a television.

Church was very much a part of our lives. I remember Sunday School with stories of Joseph and his coat of many colors, and Jesus feeding the multitude, all displayed in vivid color using flannel board.

I remember the church services, hearing the orchestra play, singing hymns, and listening to the minister bring messages of God’s love and the need to repent. At the end of each service opportunity was given for people to come to the altar. Many made their way to the front of the church to kneel before God. It left an impression on this young child.

The lessons I learned from my childhood is that God is real, He is love, He is forever. I learned to enjoy singing His praises, studying His word, being with fellow believers. He is to be part of our everyday lives; part of our conversation. Plant the seed, and our young people will remember. They will go their own way; make their own choices, but they will never forget what they have seen and heard. It will be part of them forever.