How do you pass on the faith in God to the next generation? There are plenty of blogs, books, and studies conducted by research institutes on the topic that it is easy to ask “Why do we need another voice on the topic?” I have read plenty, listened to more, and watched countless experts videos only to feel like I wasn’t doing enough to ensure my kids claim their faith in God as members of a Christian Church when they become adults. The place where they profess their faith is the key, but before I go there I just want to say that I have yet to come across anything that has a proven track record of 100% guarantee that my kids will choose God and the Church as adults. No one can threaten or reward another human being enough to make sure that they willingly choose faith in God and participation in God’s work through the Church.
Why am I stressing that it has to be in the Church? The Church is God’s vehicle for the ministry of reconciliation in the world. You’re salvation is a gift from God, but your maturation as a disciple of Jesus happens in the Church. God stepped down into this world for all of us and then called us together as a community founded on grace. A collective of people who forgive and bless everyone. Sure, the Church does not always behave this way and that should not be so surprising since it is made up of people. It is discouraging to hear tales of moral failures, backstabbing politics, slander and gossip. That said these same problems are present in a PTO, HOA, or any other gathering of human beings. The is no doubt in my mind that the Church must behave better, but it has a better chance of changing with us in it.
What exactly do I want my kids to profess? I want my kids to love God, confess that they need a savior, that they are free from sin due to the sacrifice and resurrection of this savior and they are now commissioned to participate in the sharing of this Gospel with the world through the ministry of a local congregation.
What am I to do? Show them with my life and choices.
If God is the core of my life then I must show them. If working with a congregation that participates in the reconciling work of Christ is important then I must do it now. If gathering with others to hear the Word of God, offer songs of praise and prayer is vital to my walk with God then I must take them with me to services of worship.
If I do none of these things, but just hope it all works out in the end, then I will be disappointed. It is never easy to get to a worship service in the morning. It is by the grace of God that my wife and I get our four kids out the door on Sunday morning. There are plenty of times when it would be simpler to just stay home. Sleepless nights, no one can find anything to wear, tempers get short, the weather is not cooperating. I get it.
My wife and I believe that if we withdrew from Church we would not be giving our children the resources they need to navigate life. Let me ask us to consider whether we would take someone out to the middle of the forest without a compass, map, gear of any kind and say, “I hope you find your way.” NO, of course not. In all other areas of life be it sports, Scouting, the arts, school, we sacrifice hours of our lives to help our children develop and mature in their skills. Why would we believe that teaching our children our faith is any different? There is no question that people can be found by God no matter where they are in life; wandering or firmly planted within the Church. As far as I see in scripture a parent who has already been found by God is commissioned to teach their children the faith; not abandon them in spiritual forest and hope that it all works out in the end.
It IS hard! There is no easy way or special short cut to building up our children in faith. The reward will not be seen now, but years from now. Let me quickly add that if your children were raised to claim the faith you hold dear and they chose a different path do not listen to the lie that you are a failure. You fulfilled your calling and you can still pray. Remember we are all in the hand of God and only God knows that which the soul wrestles with each hour of the day. We may not see evidence of them seeking God, but God knows exactly where they are and what they are seeking.
If you have a congregation that you meet with for worship keep going. Do not let that practice slip away. God will give you the strength and patience to persevere as you and your families’ faith grows stronger through this practice.
If you have not been affiliated with a congregation for some time or ever there is no time like the present to make it a part of your week. I believe God will surprise you with a hope in the future that you will not be able to discover on your own.
My prayer is that this post will give you something to consider. May the Spirit of God lift your heart today. Our kids follow our example, what will we teach them is important in life?