Are you a parent who wants your child to love and live for Jesus? Do you wonder, “How can I help my child grow spiritually?” Are you sometimes unsure about how to make it happen? The good news is it isn’t brain surgery – every parent can do it!
Here are five parenting practices that help develop your child’s faith:
Connect with the Bible.
The primary factor affecting the spiritual health of your child is Bible engagement. Every child should learn the activities or methods we use to connect with the Bible. Lifeway Research in the USA discovered that children who regularly read the Bible have a 12.5 percent higher spiritual health than children who don’t. So teach your children to listen, read, study, interpret, contemplate, journal, memorize, sing, pray, discuss, and apply God’s Word. [I’ve written more extensively on this vital practice in the Bible Engagement Blog – Connecting Children With the Bible and Ten Ways to Help Children Engage With the Bible]The primary factor affecting the spiritual health of a child is Bible engagement. Click To Tweet
When children pray, God fortifies their faith. That’s because prayer develops intimacy and humble reliance on God – an essential ingredient for spiritual formation. It’s, therefore, a no-brainer that we should prioritize regular prayer in the home. As you do, recognize that prayer is multi-faceted. No two children pray the same way. Yet every child should learn how to pray prayers of adoration, supplication, intercession, thanksgiving, petition, confession, repentance and transformation. Also, teach your children how to pray the Scriptures; it provides content for their prayers and helps them pray according to God’s will.
Actively participating in church or community service projects is another decisive factor affecting the development of your child’s faith. When you involve children in serving others, they experience what it means to be like Jesus. You can establish service habits by encouraging children to do chores at home, go on mission trips, volunteer at soup kitchens, care for the environment by planting trees, doing creek cleanups, and so on. [Note: In a consumer culture, providing opportunities for children to help others is crucial because it counters the spirit of entitlement].
Listen to Christian Music.
Augustine, the renowned church father, said, “We sing the truth into our hearts.” Introduce and encourage your child to download and enjoy Christian music. When children listen to Christian music, their faith is stimulated. Conversely, when children mainly listen to secular music, their faith declines. Maybe in part, that’s why Paul says, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts” Colossians 3:16 (NIV).
Model your Faith.Parents are the most potent human force shaping the faith development of children! Click To Tweet
One of the themes in Kara Powell’s book Sticky Faith is that parents must be what they hope to see in their children. Stop and think about that. How children observe your faith in action really matters. Do your children see you reading the Bible, praying, sharing your faith, worshipping God, serving others, pressing into Jesus, emphasizing forgiveness and grace, and structuring your life around a Christian worldview? In most cases, the quality of your faith is reproduced in your child. Parents, you are the most potent human force shaping the faith development of your children!
Like it or not, your beliefs and practices are the benchmarks for your child’s faith formation. You have far more influence on your children than you think. Most of the time, children grow up to be products of what their parents believe. Simply stated, your children usually value what you value. If your faith is nominal, your child’s faith will probably be minimal or non-existent. If your faith is vibrant, your child’s faith will probably be vital.
The findings of Christian Smith and Amy Adamczyk highlight the vital role parents play in the faith formation of their children. Their book Handing Down the Faith: How Parents Pass Their Religion on to the Next Generation concludes that regularly and naturally talking about faith in the home is what matters most. Why? Because children know that what their parents talk about is what they care about.
Research insight.You can't outsource your child's faith formation. What takes place in your home profoundly impacts the spiritual health of your child. Click To Tweet
Finally, research reveals that church activities have a limited influence on a child’s spiritual health if the core parenting practices mentioned above are not happening in the home. You can’t outsource your child’s faith formation. What takes place in your home profoundly impacts the spiritual health of your child. Having your child involved in church activities like Sunday School or Vacation Bible School will only supplement what you do at home. So make it an ongoing priority to activate and maintain these five parenting practices.
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© Scripture Union, 2022