Nurturing Your Child's Faith
It’s that time of year. The stench of camp laundry, dirty shoes and damp towels wafts through the air. Sunburned teenagers return home feeling the best kind of tired. They’ve unplugged from their phones, the news and other distractions for a week. They are excited about their relationship with Jesus and are sometimes unaware of the many challenges awaiting them.
This is the common scene of summertime. As a Christian parent, I want to help nurture that new-found excitement about their relationship with the Lord. So how can I help without pushing and nagging? How can I support the decisions made at camp? How can I encourage them in their walk of faith?
When my kids were small, we made an investment in sports equipment and musical instruments. We registered them for swim lessons, piano and taekwondo. We provided the shoes, the instruments, the uniform. We equipped them to be successful at their hobbies and sports. I did this so they would be positioned for success. But as I have grown older and my kids have become teenagers, and as I have seen the world collide in direct opposition to the Word, it’s become increasingly apparent that I need to nurture and equip my kids with the tools they need to become spiritually strong. I can’t do it for them, but I can support their hunger, interest and curiosity for spiritual things.
Here are 10 ideas to help spiritually nurture this generation:
1. Make spiritual things part of your everyday conversation. It doesn’t have to be weird or awkward. The younger you start, the more natural it becomes.
2. Use the Bible as truth and as a guide. If the Bible says it, it is truth. Let your teens see you putting your faith in this truth.
3. Be an example. When appropriate, talk with them about decisions you have to make. Let them see you seeking the Lord.
4. Pray with them and for them. Let them hear you talk to God.
5. Find ways to be involved in ministry together. As they grow older let them “try out” areas of ministry where they are interested and spiritually gifted. Good examples are: food pantry, cleaning the church nursery, helping in children’s ministry, church yard work, senior/shut in ministry, sharing their salvation story with others.
6. Proclaim God’s goodness. Let them know when God answers prayers, when someone blesses you, when you see God’s goodness around you.
7. Be honest about the hard times. We do our children a disservice when we make God an over indulgent grandpa, instead of a steadfast God. He is dependable and faithful at all times.
8. Go to the church building. Make it a priority. I know the people are the church—it’s not the building—but the point is to meet with others for fellowship, encouragement, worship and teaching/preaching. Seeing others practicing their faith, hearing testimonies and joining in worship with the same people week after week creates a beautiful bond within the fellowship of the church.
9. Admit failures. Be quick to admit you aren’t perfect.
10. Provide resources, Bibles, age-appropriate devotionals and books, apps, music and opportunities for them to grow.
What would you add to this list?
(Thanks to Susie, Eva, Nelly, Carrie, Edna and others who helped form this list of tips.)