If you are a person of faith, one of the biggest concerns you face as a parent is how to raise godly children. How to instill faith in your child, a faith that lasts. If you desire to help your child grow spiritually, you are in the right place.
My husband Jeremy wrote the article below. I hope you find it helpful and full of encouragement.
How do you Help Grow the Faith of a Child?
As a young man, my assumption was always that Christian parents will produce faithful children. As I grew into adulthood, even before having children of my own, I came to realize that this doesn’t happen by accident.
I saw parents with a committed and active faith raise their children and watch them leave home without cultivating an active faith of their own. Sometimes this happened slowly over time; sometimes in a short burst because of a significant life event. And, sometimes, despite the parents’ best efforts and good example, they were unable to instill faith in their child.
Of course, not every child loses their faith as they age out of their parents care. In some, the faith survives and roots. A select few even begin to produce fruit independently.
Teaching Children about Faith
I watched this process play out among my friends and mentors. These are people I respect for their own strength of faith.
At this point, I began to ask, to investigate, why some children pursued God into their adult years while others were content to assimilate to a faithless society.
What was different among those whose faith flourished and developed independently? What causes a child to lose interest and fall away?
As my oldest child began to leave her toddler years and become a child, I attacked these questions more vigorously. I desire for my children to know God, love God and take their faith seriously.
There were two ways I pursued this: Interviewing people with faithful godly kids and reflecting on what the Bible says about this.
Interviewing People with Faithful Kids
The Secret Service is the agency responsible for identifying and pursing counterfeit money. When they bring a new agent on board, they need to teach them how to spot a counterfeit. They don’t bother teaching these agents all the ways that counterfeiters have failed to produce spot-on money.
Instead, they drill into them exactly what US currency is like. They teach them the fonts, the colors, the watermarks, the inks, the papers, the metals, and so on. Knowing this, it becomes crystal clear when money is counterfeit, as it has failed at perfection.
This is the tact I took when identifying the familial behaviors that lead to faithful children. Rather than trying to identify the million ways that I could fail to achieve my intended result, I focused on asking parents of faithful children how they accomplished this.
I didn’t sit these parents down and record this with formal conversation. Instead, I asked parents while we were painting together, working together, eating together. At first people responded with humility, but when I pressed them further, these were the behaviors that stuck out.
Talk to Them About Things of God
If I could I only choose one answer that was given to me; this would be it. Parents who talk early and often about the gospel given, the hope we have, and the commandments we have been asked to hold to were the most successful to instill faith in their child.
The most important thing was to share the good news, God’s grace, the instruction of the Lord about godly living, and becoming a Christ follower.
This doesn’t mean these parents had all the answers. They just had conversations, asked questions, read together and explored together.
There was no need for perfection here – just the act of bringing it up was enough.
Get Them to Church when the Doors are Open
We attend a conservative Christian congregation and have church services on Sunday morning “Sunday school” and worship, Wednesday night (singing and bible class), and Sunday night (Singing and bible class) so there are lots of opportunities to engage.
Parents of believing children were active in these services. Sometimes the parents were dragging the kids along and sometimes the kids were drawing in the parents. Going regularly to services allows relationships with other Christians to develop, and knowledge and faith to grow.
Develop a relationship with them
Parents of faithful children managed to cultivate an amicable relationship with them. Sure, young adults will push boundaries and question authority as they develop their own presence in the world. Parents who managed to push through these barriers and develop two-way communication had the most success with raising adult children who are believers.
Reflecting on What the Bible Says About How to Raise Godly Children.
The Greatest Commandment
If I only got to choose one scripture from God’s word to tell you how to raise godly children, I would point to the Old Testament where God first gave the Greatest Command.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”
When Should we Talk about God?
Think about the various situations that God said we should talk about his Word.
Sitting at home – when you are relaxing.
Walking on the road – walking on the road was how they traveled akin to driving a car today. We’ve had many important conversations with our oldest daughter as we drive her places.
When we have a long stretch of time in front of us and nothing but open road, it’s a great time to talk about God’s commandments, doing the right thing, sexual purity, and Christian values.
When you lie down and get up – twice a day.
Tie them to your hand and bind them to your foreheads – figuratively as you take the word of God with you everywhere. (Some people of the Jewish faith do this literally).
And my favorite, to your doorposts & gates – talk about the commandments of the Lord every time you go in and out of your house on and off your property.
How often should we talk about God’s Word?
All. The. Time.
This might mean setting aside time for regular family devotions: time spent singing and explaining God’s word in bible study. Talking about the good things God has given us.
Explaining the grace of God and showing our children grace. Giving age appropriate examples of our own faith and talking about what it is like to be godly adults.
Our children’s futures depend on these simple conversations.
Our family has set aside one evening a week to have a family devotional time together. Every member of our family is involved from the oldest to the youngest.
We let the kids plan which songs we will sing, we read out of a Children’s Bible and we spend time singing and talking about God’s word.
It’s a beautiful thing to see our kids singing songs of praise to God.
It’s not easy in today’s world of chaotic schedules to make this happen. But we set boundaries to make this happen. We don’t schedule things on top of this time, we are prioritizing raising children who know God.
We have to make dinner time a little early, and admittedly it’s not always easy to set aside this time.
However it’s important to our family, taking time to teach our small children and older children alike about God.
The Prodigal Son – Luke 15:11–32
The story of the prodigal son is a preacher’s tale given by the greatest preacher of all time. The father exhibits two characteristics critical to creating a safe space to cultivate faith.
Forgiveness – the father, no questions asked, forgave the son, welcoming him back home. A forgiving parent is one that a child can approach when they encounter the struggles of life.
Humility – the father exhibited great humility in throwing a party for a son who had squandered his wealth. He looked like a fool, even to his other son. He was reckless in his love.
Discipline is necessary
“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” Proverbs 13:24
Children can’t go undisciplined. We have to find, as Christian families, appropriate ways to discipline our children all the way through their teenage years. A child left unchecked will not respect authority and will likely not fear God either.
Christian parenting is hard work, but we owe it to the next generation to make sure our main goal in parenting is sending our own children in the right direction which includes discipline and teaching godly behavior.
Pray about your child’s faith. Teach your child the importance of prayer and be active in your own prayer life. Pray over your child. Pray with your child. “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16
May we never underestimate the power of prayer and how our heavenly father can help us raise Christian children, godly sons and daughters that love God with their whole heart.
In closing, the number one key to how to raise godly children is talking to them about it – all the time.
It is not the job of the church. It’s not the job of a youth minister. It is not the job of a minister/preacher.
It is your job to instill faith in your child and it is possible to do, but it will take work.
I hope you’ve found some encouragement in this guest blog post about how to raise godly children by my husband Jeremy! Feel free to ask questions or leave comments below!
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