A Pastor friend of mine from North Carolina shared with me that one out of every four children who grow up in the Church abandon their faith once they get out on their own. (Usually off to college) Startling, but true facts.
How do we prevent our children from being on the bad side of this statistic? Many friends, including fellow Pastors have asked me what Susanne and I did to rear 3 boys who are all active and solidly planted in a local church, and who continue to walk faithfully even after becoming adults. Rearing children, especially boys seems to be a very hard task in the age we live in. Here are my answers to those who have requested my help with this over the years.
1. The New Birth – Be careful to make the new birth in Jesus a constant and clear message. Refuse to allow church membership or attendance to become a substitute for spiritual life. Gathering with other believers with commitment is important, but nothing meets the importance of true Spiritual life through faith in Christ! Attending church without the new birth is only a religious exercise. Attending with a genuine faith makes it alive and refreshing.
2. The Totality of Life – Make sure that the Christian faith is expressed in the context of the full expression of life, and do not let it become lost in a ‘religious’ framework of ‘church.’ A robust faith in every facet of life is a healthy and biblical faith.
3. Demonstrating Repentance and Openness – As parents, be quick to live out the humble and real practice of repentance and openess before your children. Repent to them whenever you fail before them. Nothing makes Christianity more real to our children as our brokenness and repentance. Using godly wisdom, discuss your own journey of maturing in faith, and be open about your struggles of seeking God’s will.
4. Demonstrating a Life of Prayer – Make sure they are included in your life of prayer by sharing prayer times with them. This helps them see God answer faithful prayers and learn about the exciting Spirit-Filled life. They will take prayer as the normal practice of Christianity instead of a go to event during trials.
5. Committed Bible Study – Teach them young and often about the principles of God’s Word in every day life. Also, let them see and participate in the discipline study of God’s Word with you. Let biblical knowledge cross the bridge from information to life application.
6. Playing the Devils Advocate – Challenge the finer points of faith and Christianity at given opportunities. This was actually one of our favorite things to do as we enjoyed dinner together as a family. I would challenge their convictions and world view by playing the devil’s advocate and prod them to be able to communicate and defend their faith. This equipped them, well beyond their years, to be able to speak up and defend the truths of Christianity.
7. Sending them Prepared – By doing the previous six principles, when they went off to college, they were not swooned by silver-tongued atheist college professors who sought to impress young students by challenging their rational understanding of life. They were prepared in a very rounded and robust Christian faith. Yes, they ‘locked horns’ with some of these type of professors, and because their faith was strong and built on an understanding of God’s Word they stood the test!
From these principles, Susanne and I have seen all three of our boys grow up to become men of solid faith and examples for other young people. One is a Pastor and presently in seminary, another has specialized college medical training and works in the medical field and is active with youth ministry and discipleship, and the youngest is active in Christian groups as a senior in college and is strong in apologetics. By God’s grace, I pray it helps you to make your home a fertile place for creating giants in the faith.