For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
What brings a child to a place of Christian faith?
What keeps them there when questions come, challenges arise and they need to wrestle through the faith they discovered as a child?
The answers are many. Often, it is through relationship with another person that a child is brought to a place of discovering who Jesus is. A parent. A pastor. A grandmother or grandfather. A neighbour who invited that child to church with their family. A VBS program in a local community church. An after-school program. A soccer camp. You.
Whoever you may be in that child’s life, your role is critical to that child developing a deep understanding of who God is, His love for them, and the place of salvation they can have because of God’s Son, Jesus. This can happen in a one-on-one conversation at church, but the place where a solid foundation for faith in Christ can be birthed and nurtured is in the home.
We live in a busy world these days. In many household settings, two parents work outside the home. Days are filled with demanding work schedules, school schedules, meals to be made, shopping to be done, homework to be completed, and chores that are assigned. Yet, the reality is that if you want to instill faith in the life of a child, the commitment of time is the most important.
So what do you do to ensure this happens? Do you schedule it in on your iphone or post it on an already full calendar on the fridge? Do you determine one night a week for family night, only to find yourselves at the movies or out of the house for a fun-filled activity. Quickly, you will come to realize that those precious moments for faith foundation building have just slipped through your fingers once again… until next week.
It is critical for Christian parents to take up the challenge of “being there” spiritually in the lives of our children. Passing this off to another person or “the professional” keeps you from journeying together in the most beautiful aspect of life—our life with Christ, and with one another. Those ordinary, everyday exchanges in life from driving in the car to playing with dolls or trucks, to reading aloud at bedtime, to grocery shopping together or searching the internet can be turned into holy moments. Those holy moments are ours, only if we take them and shape them, and invite our child to journey together with us as we journey with God. It does means open dialogue, intentionally turning conversations in such a way that God is talked about, seen, recognized, and understood in the everyday moments of life.
In today’s world there is a very strong cultural current to swim against. If you’ve ever experienced what an undertow feels like, you might even equate the feeling to that—one of being pulled back strongly from the direction you are wanting to head. There is a fight that is on, against you, to remove you and those who are standing with you, from the very place you want to get to.
Yes, we must admit it, there is an enemy that would seek to tow us in a direction other than the one we would desire to go. And all the more so, for our children. You can never be guaranteed that your child will not be caught in a current so strong that for a season they are pulled in a direction other than the way in which you desire them to go, and in the way which God intended. Yet, as a parent, the responsibility of faith development is yours, making the most of every moment in those early and formative years when faith is being developed to plant well, helping roots to form and go deep. As we know, when the roots of a tree are firmly planted and grow deep, the strength of the tree is able to withstand even the fiercest of storms.
So many times for parents the task of tackling those faith-filled moments of everyday life can pass all too quickly, and before we know it that young four-year-old is off to college or university, and moving into a dorm of students with different views, opinions, thoughts and beliefs. Determining to start today is always the best place to begin. Don’t be caught looking back with regret, wishing you had done life differently.
Allow us to help you by providing some of those faith-forming conversation starters that can pop up in your next drive to swimming lessons, your Saturday shopping day, or your dish drying time at the kitchen sink. The questions are simple, and can lead to life-shaping faith-forming conversations:
- When was a time that you felt most close to God? How did you feel?
- What is one thing you would change about yourself, and why? This leads well into a conversation about how God made us and why we are each uniquely different. Use this conversation to build your child’s self-esteem.
- When have you needed God’s help, and knew that He was there?
- Many people live in fear or deal with feelings or anxiousness? How can you tell when someone is afraid? When was the last time you felt afraid? What did you do? Could you have done anything different?
- What is one thing you would like to improve on in life? How can you do that?
- What makes you laugh? What is the difference between laughing and being happy in the moment, and being joy-filled?
- What is a problem you have had that God helped to solve? Be sure to not only ask, but also share your own adult problem and how God stepped in.
- Can you think of a time in your life when you wanted God to answer a specific prayer in a certain way and He answered it in a totally different way, and now you can see why?
- What is the difference between little sins and big sins? What do the consequences of sin look like in someone’s life? Does it make a different the size of our sin?
- How do we know that the Holy Spirit is with us? How do we see Him at work in our lives?
- Can you think of a time when the Holy Spirit helped you to do or say something?
- Have you ever found yourself wanting more of God? What can you do in those situations?
- Where is your favourite place to get away with God, interrupted from everyone else?
As a parent, be aware of your child’s “God space” and be respectful of their time there. Don’t interrupt unless you know the Holy Spirit is prompting you to do so. Pray for them that the Spirit would visit them in a supernatural way in that place and space.
The next questions are yours. Once you begin to set a pattern for intentional and natural daily dialogue that is faith and God-centered, it will flow out from you more easily and regularly. Take hold of those quiet moments to journey together in the Christian faith with your child, your grandchild, or the children that God has placed around you. Live out Deuteronomy 6:5-9:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength. Memorize his laws and tell them to your children over and over again. Talk about them all the time, whether you’re at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning. Write down copies and tie them to your wrists and foreheads to help you obey them. Write these laws on the door frames of your homes and on your town gates. (CEV)
In other words, carve out connecting time every day with a child so that they will know that wherever you go, whatever you do, that God and His ways are woven into your life, are a priority in your home, and are of utmost importance to everyone in your family. Talking about God, His goodness in your life and His greatness in this world is the best everyday conversation you can have. And, it can only help to deepen the roots of the younger trees rooting up around you!
Lord, help me today to love you with all that I am … heart, soul, strength and mind. Allow me to keep my daily schedule empty enough so that I can fill it with time spent with You, in worship and in your Word. Help me to know your laws, to live by them so that a younger generation would never question my faith journey, but would also desire to walk with You. Keep me from idol talk, mundane conversations and mindless chatter. Help me to focus my thoughts on you, and to make ways in my everyday conversations to allow You to shine through. Help me manage the daily duties of life in such a way that time with You and with my family and even other children is not staged and structured, but natural and yet intentional. Show up in our conversations, our prayer times. Help us to rely on You, to see You in the everyday happenings of life, and to acknowledge You for who you are … our King of Kings and our Lord of Lords. Amen.