I Finally Figured Out How to Form Faith in Our Children
Forming faith in our children matters. It matters to me as an elder in a church with hundreds of children under eighteen. It matters to me because I have five grandchildren ten and under. I am blessed to have two grown children who are faithful Christians. Not perfect, but faithful. So I started thinking about what really formed their faith to see if it would still work. First of all, I am thankful to God and give him the glory and credit. And I want to be clear that I believe parents have the primary responsibility in raising faithful children. My kids were blessed by strong Bible schools and youth programs. Good Children and Youth Ministers. But ministers and programs are not the things I am most thankful for in raising faithful children. Nor were they the most helpful.
We were blessed to have a faithful extended family. Grandparents who loved Jesus and really invested in our kids. But I also remember the small church where I preached when the kids were little. The whole church adopted our kids. Half the time they sat with "adopted" grandparents and half the time some teenager had them. Our kids were safe and secure at church. It was a place they loved to be.
When the kids were in elementary school, I worked with a large campus ministry. There were always college kids hanging around. They showed up at the kids' ballgames, they took them for ice cream and to the movies, they sat with them at church.
And not just our kids. We had a group of families that did life together. Worshipped together, hung out together, raised kids together. I do not think I really realized how important these spiritual role models were to all our kids. Athletes who loved Jesus. Cool kids who were committed Christians. Smart kids who were involved at church. Young people our kids wanted to be like when they grew up.
We did church life together with our kids. They have gone to funerals all their life. Sung praises at church, at youth devos, and with a room full of college kids. Stood in hundreds of prayer circles. Listened to countless Bible studies, and heard untold number of Jesus stories. Witnessed more baptisms than I can count.
So here is what I have learned about forming faith. It is not the programs that do it. It is the people you do life with. Older Christians who prayed over our babies and who made them feel special growing up, starting with their own grandparents--even now our family still has a four-generation row at church. Having friends who were all invested in each other's kids. Lots of role models to show our kids how to live faithful in the next stage of life.
So do not worry so much about finding the best Children's Ministry or Youth Ministry. Instead, find the right people to do life with. Get connected to those role models.
And if you want to form faith in the children you know...then be that role model. Be that extended family. Adopt some young people to pray with and for, to cheer on at school, and to worship with.
I think the popular phrase these days is intergenerational community. I just call it finding role models who love Jesus and who love your kids.
So thanks to all those who helped form the faith of my two. And thanks to God for connecting them.
Keep it up.