Tuesday, September 4, 2012

FAMILY: Parents are lifetime faith builders!

Parents are the greatest influence in a child's life... their WHOLE life.  While most parents think during the adolescent years kids may be throwing away what their parents believe and have taught them, research shows that not necessarily to be the case.  They try new things and may explore other beliefs but are actually looking for confirmation of what they've been taught.  If parents leave everything to the church, kids learn that their faith belongs in the church.  If parents actively live and speak of their faith, kids learn that their faith is a part of their lives.  How, then, do we equip parents to teach faith to their kids? 

The key is intentionality.  If it's not something that comes naturally in the family, parents need to make the effort to intentionally talk about their faith.  If your children ask what you believe, do you know what you would tell them?
  • Family devotions after dinner.  It's ALWAYS a good idea to read scripture!  You can read a devotional book appropriate for the age of your children or just read the Bible and pause every so often to paraphrase what you're reading so they understand.  There are some exciting things in there!
  • Praying before meals.  Simple thanks for the day, for food, and for everything God provides... EVERYTHING!
  • Eating dinner together and discussing life.  Turn off the tv and talking about your day can be very enlightening.  Kids say things to each other that give you insight into their lives and an opportunity for you to model and discuss appropriate behaviors, attitudes, and how Christ is a part of the journey.
  • Make parents a part of confirmation instruction.  Some programs include parents as small group leaders or like them present during class to help with behavior issues.  The benefit, however, is that parents have the opportunity to rediscover things they probably haven't thought about in a long time.
  • Moments for meaningful discussion.  After church every Sunday you can either consider it over or take it a step further and help kids think more about it.  Churches can provide simple discussion questions in the Sunday bulletins or have them printed for/emailed to homes after Sunday School.  They can be about what was discussed and can either provide interesting dinner conversation starters or would be great while you have kids trapped in your car while driving places.
  • Family prayers.  A lot of people don't pray out loud in front of their children but it's a lot easier for parents to teach their children to be comfortable praying in public than for it to happen in church.  Teach and model for your children how to pray/talk to God.
  • Actions speak louder than words.  They really do.  Tell your kids what you believe but show them even louder. 
  • Encourage questions.  If your kids ask questions you can't answer, tell them you'll find out and call the pastor.  When you bring it up again later they'll see that it was important enough for you not to forget.

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