FAITH AND FAMILY
By Amy Bishop, Director of Children and Family Ministries
In today’s culture, we as parents strive to feed our kids the most nutritious foods, give them access to the best education, expose them to the most diverse experiences, all in hopes that they will grow up to be well-rounded individuals. Why wouldn’t we want to be as intentional in our children’s spiritual growth and development? Children involved in a faith community is extremely important because it helps develop their spiritual training. But the parent is the primary faith influencer of the child. The church has a limited amount of time with a child. There are 168 hours in a week. If you bring your child to church 1 hour (1/168), or even 2 (2/168) or 3 (3/168) hours each week, the majority of their time is still spent with parents.
Mothers and fathers who practice what they preach and preach what they practice are the major influence related to adolescents keeping the faith into their 20s, according to data from the National Study of Youth and Religion.
82% of children raised by parents who talked about faith at home, attached great importance to their beliefs and were active in their congregations, were themselves religiously active as young adults, according to this study.
We are intentional about getting our kids to music lessons and soccer and basketball and dance and field hockey, etc. Shouldn’t we also guide our kids in their faith, something that will make an eternal difference? Our investment will pay off in our kids, grandkids, and future generations!
Some of you may feel that you don’t know how to do this or don’t feel you can do this well. It is not necessary to be a pastor, teacher, or know everything about the Bible to be able to guide your children in faith conversations. One easy thing to do with your kids is to talk to them about their take-home papers from Sunday school or children’s church. Ask them what they did, what they learned, what was their favorite part. Simply start a conversation with your kids.
Family devotion time is also something that can be done. The first step toward effective family devotions is setting aside a regular time. Many families have devotions after breakfast or supper. These times naturally bring the family together and can lead into devotions. Other families find just before bedtime works well. This is the time that we have found works best for our family. Whatever time you choose, consistency is important because it shows that time with God is a high priority. Devotion time can include different activities, but most family devotion times include reading from the Bible, discussion, and prayer.
You may want to read a chapter or portion of the Bible each day, follow an online Bible reading plan or use a devotional guide. My family uses “Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids” by Sarah Young, most nights.
Many families find it helpful to keep a prayer journal. This might include special needs/prayer requests of the family/ neighbors /missionaries/ government leaders. It can also provide a record of answers to prayers. My family uses a binder with loose leaf paper as our prayer journal.
After we read from the Bible and our devotion book, we take turns sharing our prayer requests (test, theater performance, sick friend, etc.) and writing them in our prayer journal. We take time to look back over our past prayer requests and talk about answered prayers.
You can close your family devotion time with prayer. Figure out what works for your family. In our family, Hailey closes our time with prayer, Hayden recites the Lord’s Prayer, and Hannah reads a poem at the end of our devotion time.
You may chose to include other things that make your family devotion time unique. Faith conversations about what your kids did at church, and family devotion time, are just a couple of ideas to help you be a positive faith influencer of your children. The key is to choose what works for your family so that you will be more likely to stay consistent.
Let’s be intentional in our children’s spiritual growth and development. It is the most important investment we will ever make.