Monthly Archives: December 2016
Many Christian parents have asked themselves this question. Their anxiety is understandable. They’ve heard the stories of kids who’ve left home and announced that they would no longer follow the family’s faith. In our work with young adults, we’ve witnessed such stories too often. Despite the historical footprint of Christianity in America, its mark on today’s young people is not as visible as it has been with previous generations.
But there is hope. While church attendance may be down, it’s surprising how many of today’s young people pray and hunger for real answers. Many desire to live a meaningful life, one that helps mend a broken world. But they’re not sure how to do it. They haven’t recognized how the faith they were taught fuels an authentic life.
As parents, we can trust that God will continue to pursue the hearts of those who are wandering. And we can partner with Him to help our kids see His love, truth and wisdom as a relevant, authentic source of strength. Here are some principles to remember as you help your children develop a faith that is worth holding on to:
Authentic faith is an integral part of life
Apologist Sean McDowell hears a number of explanations for why young people leave the church. “It can be for moral reasons. … It can be relational, spiritual or intellectual,” Sean says. Still, he sees a common thread through the different stories: Young people don’t see a connection between what the adults in their lives believe spiritually and how these adults actually live. “They’ve seen how spiritual things help on Sunday morning and Wednesday night,” he says, “but don’t see how it translates into their everyday lives.”
As parents, we have the opportunity and responsibility to help our children see Christianity in a holistic and meaningful way, to recognize how God’s loving wisdom applies to how they compete on the field, how they behave at school and how they interact with others.
In other words, we should discuss everyday activities with our kids through the lens of God’s Word. Make it a lively, normal part of life. Be open to questions, especially ones that keep the conversation going. Sometimes it’s hard to believe, but teens really do crave spiritual conversations with the adults in their lives. Not lectures, but real conversations. God instructs us to talk about His truth every day with our kids (Deuteronomy 6).
We must also provide space in our kids’ schedules for growing their faith. If children invest most of their time in sports, music, gaming or anything else that overshadows developing their faith, then essentially that activity is more important to your family than spiritual growth.
If our kids’ faith is to last, they need to see the Gospel as the center of the home. It can’t be just a part of the family routine twice a week; it must be an essential foundation for all of life.
Relevant faith helps us navigate the dark
A mother of three recently talked to us about her parenting journey. Mrs. Lee told us that she wishes she’d done better at helping her boys engage the culture, with all its pitfalls, risks and misguided worldviews. “I was more concerned with trying to protect them,” she told us. “My husband and I would freak out if the boys were around things we were trying so hard to protect them from. By the time they went off to college, it was a real culture shock.”
We’ve heard many moms and dads express similar thoughts. As parents, we can become so overly protective that we don’t lean into God’s protection for our children. We try to shield them from the consequences of their choices and from the challenges and obstacles of the world. But constant protection from a world that they will soon live in isn’t healthy for a child and his faith. Indeed, young adults from overprotective homes often end up rebelling, abandoning church or hanging out with the wrong crowd.
We must consistently show our kids that faith is compatible with the harsh realities of the real world. And not just compatible, but also essential for facing those challenges. When your child recognizes faith as a true source of strength — when it helps her overcome temptation, persecution, relationship problems or bad decisions — she is far more likely to rely on that source in the future.