“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” Proverbs 22:6.
Whether this is an absolute promise or a general indication of the way life goes, there is no denying the correlation between the way a child is brought up and the outcome for the child.
While no parent is perfect, we shouldn’t hold back from doing all we can to share the gospel and walk through the Bible with our kids even if it’s our first time reading it. We should be having ongoing conversations about faith and training them to do the same.
Why do we hold back?
I am very thankful to work with Awana Canada. On a daily basis our team connects with pastors, leaders, parents and youth. We also get to connect with other great ministries here in Canada and they share with us what they are hearing and experiencing. Through all of these conversations, we consistently hear the same comments regarding how or if the gospel message is being shared in the home and whether discipleship actually happens.
There seems to be some consistent barriers to these two things happening in the home. Here are a few:
“Faith has got to be their choice!”
Some parents may be hesitant because they don’t want to “push religion” on their kids. They encourage participation in normally scheduled activities like church, youth group and prayer before meals, but that’s about it.
It’s not enough. If we truly want our kids to “own” their faith, we need to show them how to do it. If we believe the Bible has the answers to our biggest questions, we need to dive in as a family.
We need to regularly discuss what the gospel means to us and journey through the tough questions together. Vulnerability goes a long way. When our kids struggle through a valley, we want them to know that this is okay, because they have also seen us walking through our own.
The Hemorrhaging Faith study (Evangelical Fellowship of Canada) shows a relationship between a parent’s commitment to prayer, community involvement, Bible reading and engagement in other spiritual disciplines, and a young adult’s commitment to their religion. Young adults with highly engaged parents are five times more likely to attend church on a weekly basis.
When our relationship with Christ is a priority, our kids are going to see what this looks like and develop these habits themselves.
“I’m not trained to disciple kids. I don’t want to mess it up!”
If we are completely honest, we don’t know how to answer our own questions most of the time. How do we answer the complex and seemingly never-ending questions from our kids from a biblical perspective with confidence? “That’s a great question for your youth leader,” is the answer I received from my parents.
We are all on a faith journey. Rather than worrying about where we are along the way, we should be concerned with asking the right questions and being open to finding good answers.
Consider the impact on a child if the response was, “Great question! We should do some reading and figure that out,” or “Let’s chat with Pastor Mike about that. I would love to know the answer to that as well.”
With that response, the child has experienced the true nature of relational-discipleship. Journey together to strengthen your faith and be open to learning from others. Honest, transparent relationships build trust and credibility between youth, parents and leaders.
“We just don’t have time!”
Ok, bold statement time! The glorification of busy has got to stop! If we say our faith and the development of our children’s faith is important, we need to make time for it.
It’s hard to carve out the time to sit down together to get into God’s Word and pray as a family. That’s the case in my home. We had to have some hard conversations with our kids, to determine how we would spend our time.
We make time to improve in areas such as school, work, health, hobbies and sports. Our faith, and the faith of our children, need the same (if not more) consideration.
It is also important to be present in the small moments. Carve out enough time to listen to the questions, model service in the home, and let your kids see you reading God’s Word. Your kids may present you with the greatest opportunity of all when they ask, “What are you reading?”
Take the first step
Today is a good time to take the first step toward making discipleship in your home a priority. As a family, make the commitment to learn about God, engage with the church and find ways to change the world for Christ.