What are the essentials for children’s faith formation? How do we cultivate a child’s passion for Jesus and an authentic faith-filled journey with Him? While there are many factors involved in children becoming more like Christ, here are five prerequisites:
A life-changing encounter with Jesus.
The most important requirement for a child’s faith formation is following Jesus, imitating Him, and carrying on His ministry.
Faith formation is the revolutionary process of believing, belonging and becoming more like Jesus every day. New Testament Professor Michael Gorman says, “Faith is actually to enter into Christ; it is to have our own being taken into the being of Jesus.” It starts when a child discovers that he or she exists to love and live for Christ (Acts 17:28). It’s consolidated when a child responds to Christ’s invitation to follow Him (Matthew 16:24, John 8:12). And it progresses when a child rejects the ways of the world (Romans 12:2) and seeks the kingdom of God above all else (Matthew 6:33).
Dynamic engagement with God’s Word.Regular vigorous interaction with God's Word is essential for informing, forming and transforming a child's life. Click To Tweet
Regular vigorous interaction with God’s Word is essential for informing, forming and transforming a child’s life.
The Scriptures provide the content and context for children’s faith formation. To disciple children effectively, we must create active opportunities for them to enter into and embrace God’s Story as their story (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). Bible engagement is the chief agent of faith formation. When children connect with God’s Word, the Word connects with them because it’s “alive and active” (Hebrews 4:12).
Substantial involvement from parents.
Parents are the principal human influence in the faith formation of their children.
God entrusted parents, not the church, with the primary responsibility of nurturing their children’s love and commitment to Jesus. How parents speak about, model, and value their faith profoundly influences their children’s faith formation. That’s because children relate their parent’s faith to the realities of their own lives. Parents should, therefore, invest themselves fully in connecting their children with Jesus and His Story. If they don’t, they compromise the healthy development of their children’s faith.God entrusted parents, not the church, with the primary responsibility of nurturing their children's love and commitment to Jesus. Click To Tweet
Bear in mind that even when parents seek to live out and motivate their children’s faith development, they can’t make their children embrace Christ. As the practical theologian, John Westerhoff said, “Faith cannot be taught by any method of instruction; we can only teach religion … we can only expand in faith, act in faith, live in faith. Faith can be inspired … but it cannot be given by one person to another.”
Meaningful relationships with other Christians.
Significant interactions with other Christians (adults and children) profoundly affect the solidity of a child’s faith formation.
Younger and older generations in the church should connect and interrelate. When we provide inclusive opportunities for children to talk about, pray, sing, seek and serve Jesus with us, it considerably boosts their faith formation. Research confirms this. According to the Barna Group, children are three times more likely to read the Bible independently, obey the Scriptures, and rank church attendance as the high point of the week when they have meaningful relationships with one or more adults in their church. As pastor and trainer Twyla Kuntz notes, “It’s not the kids who grow up in the church that continue in their faith. It’s the kids who grow up being the church.”
A clearly defined sense of purpose.
Children are created by Jesus and for Jesus. Knowing and understanding God’s intentions and objectives for their lives consolidates children’s faith formation.Every child has a unique assignment from God that He ordained before He created the universe! Click To Tweet
For a child’s faith to be fully formed we must help him or her ask and answer this question: Why do I exist? God’s plan is for every child to live only all for Him. For parents, teachers, and pastors, the objective should be to equip children to think and act more like Jesus (Mark 12:30). Every child has a unique assignment from God that He ordained before He created the universe! Helping children identify God’s mission for their lives, and how to use their gifts and talents to fulfil His mission, is essential for the maturing of faith and the deepening of their relationships with Him.
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