Raising Kids that Keep Their Faith

1618445_10151891598676835_1094650859_nAfter 15 years as a professional minister, working with kids for 13 of those years, I have watched all sorts of young people grow up and make decisions to continue in the faith of their youth or opt to walk away. I have also read arguments as to who or what is usually at fault for the exodus of young people from the church. Colleges with secular agendas, public high schools, federal education standards, pop culture, and television are among the favorite targets. While all of these things may play a part in the trend, one of the major factors that gets far less attention is parental involvement. While there is no guarantee that anything will guarantee that kids will continue in the faith after growing up, there are several common factors I have observed that influence outcomes enormously.
  • Parents who are active in their faith. Parents who actively live out what they believe raise kids who follow their parent’s example. Teaching kids to love their neighbor as themselves, to forgive enemies, the importance of caring for widows and orphans, etc. are all part of living out the teachings of Jesus. Children are observant and know when their parents say one thing and do another. Earnestly living out the teachings of Jesus is the best way to teach kids how to earnestly live out their faith.
  • Parents who talk about their faith with their kids. Talking with kids about what you believe on a regular basis is a vital part of teaching them. This is important because kids learn to think through issues and make decisions as they grow up. Teaching them how to consider various aspects of life and decisions from the perspective of their faith is important. It doesn’t happen naturally; it is the product of teaching.
  • 15807_10152392291191835_2354946417354094654_nPray with and for them. Prayer is like breathing to spiritual life and development. It’s also powerful and effective. Going before God and raising up your kids daily is important. It’s also important to teach them how to pray and its importance. Thanking God together, praising Him in prayer, learning to confess our sins against Him, and seeking His assistance in our lives are all practices we teach our children when we pray for them.
  • Active participation in their faith life. Raising a child who learns the value of their faith requires participation that goes beyond dropping them off for Sunday School or Youth Group. Asking questions, encouraging them to talk about it, participating in service opportunities together, and studying the Bible as a family. Parental involvement is important.
  • Parents demonstrating the importance of weekly worship. Attending worship as a family demonstrates the importance of worshipping God. It’s of particular importance for the father to be involved in family worship, because kids tend to watch what their father does and learn from it. Sitting together, worshipping together, praying together, and other worship activities are central to the task. Family worship participation is an important key to raising a child who values their faith.
When children grow up, they make their own choices. The best things a parent can do are 1) teach their children values and 2) teach them about their faith so that their kids can make an informed decision when they are mature enough to do so. Until then, training in the faith is more than a passing acknowledgement of it. It’s a demonstrated lifestyle.
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20 thoughts on “Raising Kids that Keep Their Faith

  1. Wally Fry says:

    I was raised by an unsaved mother and an atheist father so needless to say I grew up a non believer. Sadly, I raised my family that way as well. My own two children are lost to this day. Due to the sin of Divorce, however, God was able to do as He does and turn evil to good. When I finally reached the place of total brokenness, I was able to see my need for the Salvation offered through Jesus Christ. Even more amazingly, The Lord has given me a second chance with a new family to do things differently. What’s really amazing is that God has given me the honor of raising a young man who has been called to preach God’s Word and is attending our Seminary as we speak. That’s good for an Amen for sure! Your post is totally right on the money and great guidance for any family wanting to have some chance of having children who remain in The Faith. Thanks and please keep up the great writing!

    Liked by 5 people

    • patchingcracks says:

      Thanks! Praise God for the work he did in redeeming your life! In the end, it’s His Spirit that brings the increase from the seeds planted. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. lucinda408 says:

    I agree with this point of view , because whether you like it or not your children observe what kind of fruits you as the parent produce in your daily walk.

    Liked by 1 person

    • patchingcracks says:

      Thanks! I appreciate your comment and that you read my site. It’s a hard thing to keep focused on the fruit of our walk with Jesus and how my kids observe it.

      Like

  3. faithfulwon says:

    I just read this to my family around the table! We need to pray more together but we agree with what you have written.

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  4. m says:

    I would say it is particularly important to Walk the Walk. In my own childhood I heard all the Talk but never saw my family’s faith practiced as more than saying grace before dinner. In my early teens I refused to participate in what I had begun to see has hypocrisy and self-service. Luckily I made a friend who walked the walk, 17 years later I asked where he went to church and began attending again, impressed to see someone live out Jesus’ teachings in day to day living year after year. I am now trying to show my children that faith is not rules to follow but a way of being in relation to God and others. Thank you for another thought provoking post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • patchingcracks says:

      It’s so common to hear kids complain about their parent’s inconsistencies. It’s a huge deal for us to be consistent. Thanks for reading and commenting. It’s very much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you so much for visiting me at http://www.thewritesteph.com! It’s awesome that someone all the way in Montana has read my little blog! I really enjoyed your blog about faith and parenting, and I really agree. Well, I don’t have a big kid, but this is how we’re raising our young one. We do all of these things, and I hope that it all rubs off when she’s off on her on and making her own choices. Best regards, and thanks again! -Stephanie

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Anna says:

    This is so true…thank you for posting and Praise Jesus with the work He did in Wally…:)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. lifehelps says:

    You made the point that it is especially important for the father to be in Church, worshipping with his family, because children watch what he does. This reminds me of a report I heard several years ago: A study done by a University (not a Christian one, which caught my attention) found that children who live in homes where both parents are present and the father is actively involved, setting standards and being examples, are 70 times more likely to be involved in constructive activity, choose a successful vocation and go to college. They are just as unlikely to get involved in drugs, alcohol and sex. Children who live in homes where the father in particular is absent, either because he works too much or resides somewhere else, are 70 times more likely to have poor grades, get involved in nonproductive or hurtful activities and choose unhealthy friends. Again, the fact that this was a secular study, which would not have any sort of agenda, caught my attention, especially in an age when pointing out something as gender-specific as the father’s role in the family is unpopular to say the least. Interesting. Hannah

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  8. Trevor says:

    These are all valid points. Let me add one more: The authenticity of the faith that is proclaimed and prescribed by the faith community in which they are raised. I find that the youth of today want to investigate, question, and decide for themselves, maybe more than our generation and those before ours. They can smell a bait-and-switch a mile away…and sadly, the church is real good at that. So, many of our young people leave the church because what they have been taught just doesn’t add up because they don’t see it displayed in the life of the faith community.

    And one other thought (since I’m already in deep) – you mention “the faith of their youth.” Is it their faith…or the faith of their parents? I would contend that if it is their faith, they will own it sooner or later. If it is the faith of their parents or someone else, don’t count on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • patchingcracks says:

      I definitely agree that the community is a huge part of the process. There is no doubt that a church that demonstrates rank hypocrisy will tend to drive people away. I’d suggest that even when this arises, parents ought to use it as a teachable moment. Sometimes people behave badly simply because they are fallen and get stuck in sin. Parents who teach through these instances and demonstrate grace will do better. It’s hard, but can be very effective.
      Regarding your second thought, I agree with you there as well, but would add a caveat. Children need to take control eventually, but until they are mature enough to do so parents ought to raise their kids according to their own faith. Ideally, kids own it. I’ve talked to many folks who choose not to take their kids to church because they want their kids to choose for themselves. Essentially they are just ensuring that there is no training or preparation.
      I really appreciate your thoughtful comments. Very insightful.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. riverbendcog says:

    excellent stuff. Are you familiar with the Faith-At-Home movement (Mark Holmen)? This is identical material. I was introduced to it about 5 years back and it has made me embrace a paradigm shift. I see the role of the church and pastor as equipping and supporting households in making their home the primary place for spiritual formation. That biblical (Deut. 6) teaching needs to be recaptured. The false philosophy that has enabled people to out-source spirituality to the church needs to be corrected.

    Like

    • patchingcracks says:

      I’ll have a look at it. I tend to agree that one of the issues the church faces is outsourcing spiritual leadership. I’d argue that this goes both ways. It’s also suggest that it’s important the the church community be a part of spiritual formation. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Like

      • riverbendcog says:

        Yes. I would whole-heartedly agree with your comment. It is a partnership. The premise of Faith-At-Home is to hold one or 2 “seminars” a year to teach households a particular “faith skill” and resource them in implementation. And then of course the church continues to play a part in journeying together and discipleship. But the movement in a corrective and a change in balance of emphasis.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Katherine says:

    Great entry! I think you’re right on point with parents having to set the example they want their kids to follow. Nothing is more off-putting than someone who does not practice what they preach.

    I think another extremely important factor is helping children and teens OWN their faith, which is something we emphasize a lot in the youth ministry I work in. It’s one thing to teach kids what you think, but another entirely to teach them how to think, how to ask critical questions about their own faith and beliefs and to take ownership of those beliefs as not just something their parents taught them, but a faith that is their own.

    Like

    • patchingcracks says:

      One of the biggest blessings I had as a young believer was a dad who would argue bible and theology with me. He helped me learn to evaluate and defend my beliefs. It was great.

      Liked by 1 person

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