4 Practical Ways to Pass Our Faith to the Next Generation
What is our ultimate goal as Christian parents?
Let’s start with what it’s not. Our ultimate goal is not to make sure our kids learn to share, participate in the right sports, eat healthy food, or excel in school. It’s not even to make sure they are happy, for that matter. While all of those are good desires for our kids’ lives, they aren’t the end goal of our parenting.
Our greatest calling as parents is far bigger than those ends.
God has given us the task of teaching our children to know, love, and follow him for a lifetime.
Jesus alone is where they will find a deep, abiding joy for all eternity. And, while our children’s salvation is not ultimately in our hands, God has given us a big role to play.
So, let’s get practical and think through a few ways to “pass the baton of faith” to the next generation.
1. Work on growing closer to Jesus yourself.
Deuteronomy contains the instructions God, via Moses, gives to his people before entering the promised land. Pay careful attention to the order of these instructions in chapter 6…
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.Deuteronomy 6:5-7
Did you catch the order of “passing the baton of faith”?
1) Love and follow God yourself, and
2) teach your kids to do the same.
Not surprisingly, the National Study of Youth and Religion supports this. Their research found that by far the most important factor for determining whether children will retain their faith as adults is if a parent models genuine faith in Jesus.
“Parents are huge, absolutely huge, nearly a necessary condition… Without question, the most important pastor a child will ever have in their life is a parent.”Professor Christian Smith, Notre Dame
What does this practically mean for us?
We must find ways to grow closer to Jesus ourselves.
Attend church, read God’s Word and pray regularly, join a small group or Bible study with other Christians, find a place to serve in the church. Let your kids see you doing these things and talk to them about what you’re learning. Demonstrate a humble heart when you mess up and extend grace to your kids when they do, too.
2. Read the Bible with your kids regularly (or encourage them to on their own).
It’s never too early (and it’s never too late) to start reading the Bible to your kids.
By spending just a few minutes a day reading the Bible with our kids (or encouraging them to do it on their own), we can help our children learn how important it is to meet with God regularly. The Bible is where they will learn that are loved more than they could ever imagine. That they are part of the greatest story of all time. And that they can depend on Him with their entire lives.
It’s helpful to invest in a Bible that’s age-appropriate for your child. I’ve written an extensive review of my favorite children’s Bibles here and some of the best Bibles for tweens and teens here.
For tweens and teens, you may also enjoy these daily devotionals for families.
3. Incorporate prayer into your daily routine.
First, pray that God would be at work in your kids’ hearts and minds, helping them to know and follow him. Invite the Holy Spirit into your efforts. Start by praying Psalm 25:4-5 or Psalm 86:11 for your children.
Second, pray with your kids often. Praying to God together as a family demonstrates our dependence on him. And it shows our children how to connect relationally with our Father in heaven.
Here are some ideas for natural times in the day to pray together:
- Before or after you read the Bible together.
- Before meals.
- In the car on the way to school (when it resumes).
- Before bedtime. (I’ve noticed this can be a time when our children are more open to sharing their fears, worries, and prayer requests.)
My husband and pastor, Nathan, wrote an article with some great tips for praying with kids here.
4. Make church and Christian community a priority as a family.
All of us (kids and parents alike) need other Christians in our lives to help us grow closer to God. Jesus established the church for this very reason.
As Glen Stanton notes, “Our kids need to have the faith they learn at home supported and encouraged by the larger ring of admired adults around them.”
Connecting with our church community takes concerted effort, though, especially right now during the pandemic.
If you haven’t yet, make attending the worship service on Sunday mornings a priority for your family. Until we can resume meeting in our building, we hope you’ll take advantage of the Live Stream worship services.
For children through 5th grade, you can access our online Crossing Kids lessons here until we start up classes again.
To help get your middle schooler or high schooler involved, learn more about Crossing Students.
Parents, as you work towards putting these practices in place, there will be fits and starts. You will feel like a failure at times (I know Nathan and I have!). But, let’s remember Paul’s words:
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.Galatians 6:9-10
Let’s never give up on tilling the soil of our kids’ hearts and asking God to be at work in their lives.
Crossing Kids provides regular content for children to learn more about God. Subscribe to their YouTube channel for all the latest resources.