SERMON DATE AND TITLE: 2010-04-11: "The Adult Child"

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T h e    A d u l t    C h i l d


          The problem of pastoral care in this generation is that few are mature enough to make an adult commitment to Christ.  The slightest wind of adversity blows their commitment to Christ out-the-door. I have pondered the Adult Child phenomena in our churches for the decades I have served the traditional church. There are several reasons for this complex problem.

          People are birthed on the planet as self-centered helpless infants. They need others to be responsible and care for them. As they grow naturally they are able to care more and more for themselves. This is especially true if they are loved, cherished and nurtured by empathetic caring adults. When they thrive and grow through the stages of life, one day they launch out on the sea of independence and adulthood.

          Unfortunately, not all of our kids are nurtured, cherished and instructed on the challenges of life and how to overcome them. As this occurs many of our kids stay back emotionally in the earliest stages of childhood development. When they are regressed emotionally, they are regressed spiritually as well. Substance abuse can take an otherwise healthy person and regress them back to infancy. Substance abuse (“SA”) robs them of valuable resources like their will and drive, their intellect and their emotional and spiritual health.

          The SA people are also emotional and spiritual infants. There is a myth that when substance abusers leave their old life style and begin attending church and stay sober, then the damage done to them and by them is magically erased. This is wrong. The SA people remain adult children unless they are individually challenged into healing and personal growth. Plus, the friends and family members the SA people damaged during their years of abuse still carry the scars of the past.

          If the Substance Abuser in an individual’s life during the first dozen years of childhood was a parental figure, then they will probably be assigned roles in early childhood and remain frozen in those roles most of their adult lives. Pastors and

The Adult Child, p.2

counselors need to find out if a problematic person they attempt to help has these types of backgrounds. If they have been raised in a SA home, the Adult Child problem can cause havoc in churches they attend. Try to involve them in Alanon or the “Adult Child” Support Groups of Alanon.

          There are certain kinds of church and ministry styles that appeal to the adult children in our midst:

1) The Salvation-Only Church attracts a lot of adult children, who wrongly assume because of the redundant salvation message, salvation is all that G-d expects of them.  They gather at the entrance to the Kingdom of God, but many never actually enter G-d’s Kingdom and mature.

2) The Let-Me-Entertain-You Church pays a lot of money for entertainers and big-name speakers to come and entertain the neophyte believers and lull them into spiritual slumber. Many adult children end up in these kind of churches and the pastors haven’t a clue as to why all the temper tantrums when things don’t go their way. They wrongly assume that G-d doesn’t expect them to grow in character and spirituality.

3) The Religious Country Club Church expects accepted members to pay their dues, errrr, ah, “tithes” and attend all the services offered by the church. Somehow, all this is supposed to automatically earn you a “get-out-of-hell free card.” Quite a lot of geriatric adult children end up in this type of church. Unfortunately, you walk on gold in heaven and no one there remembers there all the religious activity you did during your time on earth.

4) The First Church of Magic Words teaches their members that saying the right words forces G-d into becoming their celestial bell hop, granting them every desire and whim. Loads of adult children are attracted here, because they can skip the difficult and sometimes painful process of character-building. Of course, many of the Magic Words people drop out in less than five years when a major calamity happens that renders them out-of-control. The religious burn out rate here is very high. Few of their leaders can explain unexpected and unplanned tragedies that occur outside of their magical explanations.

The Adult Child, p.3

          This sermon explores this challenging area of “Adult Children” in our midst and considers the need for real, honest discipleship training in growth in Jesus Christ.


Pastor Phil  <><<




April 11, 2010

Sheepfold Ministries, Pastor Phil Roland


T h e    A d u l t    C h i l d

LUKE 7:31-35 - Matt. 11:16-19

“The problem of pastoral care in this generation is that few are able to make an adult commitment to Christ.  The slightest wind of adversity blows their commitment to Christ is out-the-door.”                                         Pastor Phil


"To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation?  What are they like?

They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:

"'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;

we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.' For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners."'

But wisdom is proved right by all her children."                     Luke 7:31, 35



          A. Children in the Marketplace - 2 Corinthians 10:12

               “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who

                 commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves,

                 and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”

                        1. Dependent on the approval of others

                        2. External Self-Esteem

                        3. Fickle and Bored

                        4. Desiring Entertainment

                        5. Arbitrary - Decisions made by Whim and Caprice

                        6. Mundane - Concerned only with the ordinary

                        7. Mediocrity – By their own choice

                        8. Apathetic – Lethargic and Indifferent

            B. Emotionally and Spiritually Immature

            C. Frozen in an Emotional / Spiritual Vacuum

                        1. Perpetual Children – Arrested Development

                        2. Seeking Inspiration and Amusement - 2 Tim. 3:7 

                            “always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.”



          A. Predictable traits of the perpetually immature

                    1. “PERFORMANCE ORIENTED”- Moral Goodness / Moral                                         Badness based on performance, not the internal decision

                              of choice.

                        2.  PHARISEES - Judge others on the basis of externals

                        3.  PASSIVE – Doesn’t assert themselves in relationships -

                             Life “happens” to them.  They do not “make it happen.”


THE ADULT CHILD, cont., p.2


                        4.  DEPENDENT - Continuously looking for someone to take                                   care of them / To be responsible for them

                        5.  EGO-CENTRIC - All relationships are based upon whether                                   or not personal needs are met by others.

                        6.  EMOTIONALLY IRRESPONSIBLE - They refuse to take                                         control of their emotions.  Other people “make them” feel                                good or bad.

                        7.  CHRONICALLY DEPRESSIVE - The Adult Child is constantly                              depressed, usually over circumstances that they believe                               they powerless to change.

                        8.  ANTI-AUTHORITY - The Adult Child cannot take rebuke.                                       YOU are wrong, and they are never wrong.  They reflexively

                             attack any perceived authority persons.

                        9.  PERPETUALLY IMMATURE - The Adult Child Wishes Never                                to Grow Up. Growing pains scare them and they retreat.

                        10.  CANNOT REPRODUCE - The Adult Child is evangelistically                              sterile.  If they do seem to be reproducing themselves, it is                              misleading, for they can only relate to other Adult Children                                   like themselves. “Birds of a feather, flock together.”


                “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some

                  evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the

                  saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

                  till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son

                  of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of

                  Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and

                  carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the

                  cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love,

                  may grow up in all things into Him who is the head; Christ” Eph. 4:11-15

                        1. Only mature/emotionally whole adults can nurture others

                        2. The adult child has a firm grip on the past

                        3. They have a short attention span

                        4. Walk in a cloud of confusion

                        5. Technically un-teachable

                        6. Lack the ability to gain insights from life experience



“In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.”

            A. “Add to” your Faith. . .2 Peter 1:5-7

              “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith

                   virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control

                   perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly                               kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.”

THE ADULT CHILD, cont., p.2


          B. Stop cursing pain and adversity – Mark 10:29-31

                 “So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one                       who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or

                   children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, "who shall not receive

                   a hundredfold now in this time; houses and brothers and sisters and

                   mothers and children and lands, with persecutions; and in the age to

                   come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first."

                        1. Jesus told us maturity would come on the anvil of pain

                        2. It is a lie of the flesh that Christians will escape adversity

            C. Allow the Fruit of the Spirit to develop - Gal 5:22,23

               “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness,

                    goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is

                    no law.”

                   1. These are traits of Christian Character

                        2. The Developing Character of Christ in us

            D. Grow Up – Matthew 5: 48

                "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

                        1. Greek Understanding - PERFECT = “TE-LIOS”

                           ”Growth in mental and moral character”       “Completeness”

                        2. Be like Him

            E. Pastors: Move on, don’t continue to cast your pearls on dull ears

                        1. Find receptive hearts and pour yourself into them

                        2. Lower your expectations of adult children that refuse growth

                        3. Don’t entertain and amuse them, they will want more

            F. Jesus didn’t play to the crowds, neither should we

                        1. The gospel ministry of Jesus isn’t a popularity contest

                        2. Our approval is from the Lord



T h e    A d u l t    C h i l d,  TEXTS:

LUKE 7:31-35

“And the Lord said, "To what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like?

32  "They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, saying: 'We played the flute for you, And you did not dance; We mourned to you, And you did not weep.'

33  "For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.'

34  "The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'

35  "But wisdom is justified by all her children."


MATTHEW 11:16-19

Mat 11:16  "To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

Mat 11:17  "'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.'

Mat 11:18  For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.'

Mat 11:19  The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." ' But wisdom is proved right by her actions."




T h e    A d u l t    C h i l d


Closing Illustration

A master carpenter who worked for the same builder for nearly 50 years announced he wanted to retire. The builder told him how much he appreciated his work. He gave the carpenter a $5,000 bonus and asked him if he would build just one more house. The builder owned a magnificent lot with a spectacular view and he wanted to build a dream home.

The carpenter was bitterly disappointed at the small bonus, but his last building fee would help him buy a small cottage, so he agreed to build the dream house.


The carpenter prided himself on his uncompromising commitment to quality, but his resentment caused him to cut corners, ignore details, and accept shoddy workmanship from other workers. He even looked the other way when some of them substituted cheaper materials and pocketed the difference.


When the house was finished the builder shook the carpenter’s hand and with a huge smile he gave him an envelope with a thank-you card and a folded piece of paper. The carpenter was disdainful -- until he unfolded the paper and found the deed to the house he had just built.


The carpenter was ashamed that he had misjudged his old friend and betrayed his own values, and he was remorseful that the house he would live in for the rest of his life was made so carelessly.


Our character is the house we live in and it’s built piece by piece by our daily choices. Deceit, irresponsibility, and disrespect are just like shoddy workmanship. Whenever we put in less than our best and ignore our potential for excellence, we create a future full of creaky floors, leaky roofs, and crumbling foundations.


REPUTATION is what men will one day chisel on your tombstone.

CHARACTER is what the angels will say about you before the throne of God.