Today’s culture follows a specific recipe to give their children “the best future possible”. Outsourcing.
Want your child to be great in baseball? Find the best coach.
Want your child to be great in science? Find the best tutor.
This recipe forces a question on parents when it comes to spiritual development. If I haven’t gone through any formal religious training (or patience training for that matter), how can I teach my children to have a strong faith that holds up to the world’s forces?
If you want your child to be great in faith, find the best children’s ministry. Right?
The church has trained leaders, fun programs, curriculum, and classrooms for kids. To weary, uncertain parents, this feels like a recipe for success.
Please don’t misunderstand me. Those are great things! But when they are utilized as the primary means of passing on faith, we find problems. Outsourcing may be the best answer if you want your child to be a soccer star, but God’s plan for passing on faith was designed to be done in-house. He laid out in Scripture exactly how the next generation will rise up in faith, and He provided the best people to carry it out.
It isn’t the church. It’s the family. Scripture tells us repeatedly that faith is passed down through generations by intentionally integrating it into family life and making it personal. When we don’t follow the recipe, it can bring unintended consequences.
As a ministry leader, when I read any of the latest research and statistics on faith today it is about the equivalent of dropping a hammer on my foot! Church attendance is plummeting. Young people are leaving the faith. It feels like the worst of job performance reviews. I know I’m not alone in my overwhelming feelings of grief, doubt, urgency, and frustration. Somewhere along the line, the recipe given through Moses in Deuteronomy 6 got altered, and we’re seeing the consequences in the worst possible way.
The good news is we have the opportunity to change these outcomes, and prayerfully, change the future of faith for generations to come.
There are tools the church can use to walk alongside parents and help them embrace the incredible responsibility and privilege of passing on faith. By combing through the extensive amount of research done in the last four decades, we know that there are three key elements parents need in order to find confidence to raise heroes of faith.
While God intended for parents to be the primary disciple makers, He never intended them to do it alone. The church, among others, serves in this critical supporting role. A guide is someone who leads in unfamiliar places, interprets and shares significant information, and answers questions. The church family should be coming alongside parents in a similar way.
Whether it’s a personal Bible study, weekly meals, or vacation; having a plan to follow gives us the push and self-assurance we need to take the first step. A plan provides standards to follow while still allowing room to adjust for each unique situation. There are many suggestions when it comes to spiritual formation plans. At GrowFamily, we developed the spiritual benchmarking tool called GrowthRings as a place to start. You can learn more about this tool at growfamilyfaith.com or see our article in the May 2021 edition of Entre Niños Magazine.
When it comes to a plan to help your children grow spiritually, there are two things to remember:
- There’s always room to move in a plan. Let the Holy Spirit direct as you commit your efforts to Him.
- A plan is only a tool. The Bible is far more powerful than any tool or pattern of life. It’s the Word that shapes us into the likeness of Jesus.
Life is busy for everyone, especially families! The busier we get, the easier it is to wander away from the plan.
This is not any easy journey, either. Parents will constantly question themselves into believing they are not the right people for the job. The more unqualified we feel, the more prone we are to outsource. Having a person or group to help keep parents on track toward the goal is a key to success. These accountability partners are not afraid to ask difficult questions while giving encouragement along the way.
The church can empower parents to follow their calling by coming alongside them with these three tools: guidance, a plan, and accountability. You’ll find the journey of family growth across generations to be priceless, both in the home and in the church!
You can access this entire magazine for free here: Edition 33