I’m often asked these types of questions as I travel and speak to parents around the country and internationally: How do you raise godly kids? How do you raise kids that love Jesus? How do you raise kids who don’t walk away from the church? In this episode, I’m going to dive into nurturing spiritual development in your children.
This episode is sponsored by BJU Press Homeschool. Visit bjupresshomeschool.com for trusted educational resources from a biblical worldview.
As parents, we often witness our young children express enthusiasm and love for Jesus and the church. However, as they grow older, they may start asking difficult questions or experiencing doubts. They may encounter conflicting ideas from friends or struggle to understand certain biblical passages. Eventually, some teenagers or young adults may even question or reject their faith altogether. There’s no formula to follow that will guarantee that your child will move from religion to relationship. It’s a living God who works in the hearts and minds of each of us, including our kids. While good, there’s more to it than a list of magic steps like reading the Bible to them, having them do copywork, and taking them to church each week. Nurturing spiritual development in children is much more about your relationship with them, the routines you put in place, and having the difficult spiritual conversations.
Parents Are the Primary Spiritual Influence
Deuteronomy tells us that we are to teach and train our kids in the way that they should go. You are supposed to be teaching and training them. The second part of that passage tells us that when they are old, they will not depart from it. Now, I know some of you listening and reading did everything right and your child still walked away. It is crucial that you recognize that it is your job to teach and train your child in the way they should go, but it is the Lord’s job to draw them near to Himself. Remember that when they walk away, it might not be forever.
It is crucial to recognize that you, as a parent, are the primary influence in your child’s life. Despite the challenges and external influences, you have a significant impact on their moral and spiritual development. You, not the youth group leader, the Sunday school teacher, the Christian school, or the co-op leader, are responsible. Your daily actions, conversations, and modeling of a godly life shape their understanding of faith. Do they see you spending time in prayer and reading God’s Word? Do you engage in conversations about the Lord, addressing their doubts and questions? By actively participating in their spiritual growth, you cultivate their enthusiasm and eagerness to know God.
Routines and Rituals
To instill a deep love for God, it’s essential to incorporate routines and rituals into your family life. These practices can reinforce the importance of faith in your everyday activities. For instance, you can have family Bible reading or devotion time, share prayer requests, or put up Bible verses around the house. By consistently engaging in these activities, you demonstrate that your relationship with God is not limited to specific times or places. It becomes an integral part of your lives.
Having Spiritual Conversations
Children observe and imitate their parents. By modeling a godly life, you show them the practical application of faith in various situations. But, they also need you to acknowledge their questions and doubts, responding with patience and encouragement rather than mockery or dismissal. Take time to affirm their curiosity and create a safe space for them to discuss their thoughts and concerns.
Encourage your children to appreciate God’s presence in the world around them. Teach them to marvel at the beauty of nature and see creation as a reflection of His glory. Foster empathy and compassion by praying for those in need, whether it be accident victims or the homeless. These experiences help children develop a heart for others and recognize God’s love and provision in their lives. Your kids naturally want to know more about God. Remember, faith is a journey, and doubts are a natural part of it. By intentionally fostering conversation, you help them deepen their relationship with God.
The Journey Not the Outcome
Don’t make learning about the Lord a task or school subject or just something that has to be done. Make it fun and creative and engaging. As parents, we have the privilege and responsibility to nurture spiritual development in your children. While we cannot guarantee the outcome or prevent them from experiencing doubts, we can create an environment that fosters their relationship with God. By having relationships with them, incorporating routines and rituals into our lives, and engaging in meaningful conversations we can guide them toward a faith that transcends head knowledge.
References and Links
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