Polling finds that 94% of people become Christians or decide on the faith they will follow (or lack of faith these days) before the age of 18 — and most them much younger and research shows that parents are number one in forming their children’s spiritual lives, followed second by church.
To think that children decide on their faith for a lifetime so early on is major incentive to develop a plan. When I learned this information, I got really passionate about doing it well for my kids and telling others about it
After having my first child 6 years ago, I didn’t think much about how I would raise him the faith. I figured we’d go to church and he’d get it by osmosis. I never remembered any major extra efforts in my own life from my parents. But then I started to think about how many people I knew that had walked away from faith or not retained what they grew up with at all — including some of my own relatives.
Faith Under Attack
The truth is, faith systems are under attack like never before…it’s not like it was even 10 or 20 years ago. In 1999, 70% of Americans belonged to some kind of religious institution. Today that is under 50% and nearly 25% say they have “no religious affiliation.” This isn’t just concerning because lack of faith in general, but faith in individuals has an amplifying effect on every aspect of a person’s life, from childhood to adulthood. Things like depression, anxiety, marriage rates, suicide rates, general happiness — all of this is affected dependent on whether one has an active faith in their life or not.
As I read and researched for articles I was writing, I began to realize even I, someone who considered herself a strong Christian, didn’t even know or understand certain, basic theological truths of Christianity. I had a hard time answering even the simplest of criticisms or doubting questions. It was great I had faith, but what about those who did have questions or criticisms? I didn’t want my ignorance to be a hindrance — to them or to my own children one day. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned and want to share with you.
9 Ways to Create a Strong Faith in Your Kids
1. Model by example. Before you even begin to teach your kids, get your own walk on track. Your actions will speak far more than your words. Model a committed faith walk in your daily prayers, Bible reading, attitude, repentance and more. Take time to re-align yourself with your faith and you’ll be better prepared to help your kids.
2. Make family a priority. Our first community is our family. We know God values you this above almost anything else. It’s the first thing He did in the Garden! Create space for sacred family time every day and do not neglect it. This builds a Godly foundation full of trust and safety.
3. Create Biblical habits. Even when kids are little little – habits become ingrained in their minds. Think of those nightly prayers from you were a kid. I know I still say the same prayer I learned as a 4-year-old each night! Talk about a powerful word. Set rituals like prayer at meals, praise at the dinner table, a Bible verse or devotional before bed. Make a habit of praising God for the sunrise and the stars, of praying when your little gets hurt or is scared. Re-instituting these habits over and over will create a lifetime of faith by habit.
4. Find a Home Church. It’s time to find and stay with one church. Seek God’s guidance on where that may be, but instilling the importance of true, Biblical community from a young age will set the stage for a lifetime. It’s important to attend regularly and show your kids that God’s house is sacred and important to your family. It’s not just about taking the action, but providing a space of safety and comfort…it’s a place your child can always go back to later in life where they know there is guidance, prayer and healing.
5. Teach Theology Young. Don’t run away! Just the word “theology” can sound daunting. Trust me – I’m no pastor! But by implementing basic theological concepts and words into your daily learning, you will help ground your kids in the true meaning of the Christian faith. Best of all? You can learn WITH them. I’ve been doing this for two years and it has been SO enlightening for my faith too. I’ve got some great ideas on how to do this at the end so sit tight!
6. Pray With and For Them. We tend to underestimate the power of prayer – but don’t! Get specific about prayers for your kids. Say aloud the things you hope for them. Believe that God will bring them to pass. Trust His faithfulness! Spend time each day praying with them as well – short bursts for others will show them how important prayer is. I also recommend writing prayers down with them and going back later to see how God actually answered them!
7. Invite Other Christians to Invest In Them. Parents are the most important people in a child’s life. However, surrounding them with other, Godly influences is super important as well. You want them to feel safe and trusting, able to go to another resource if it’s too hard to talk to mom and dad someday. This is where a strong, church community can be incredible. The more safe, loving adults a child has in their life, the better off they are and bonus points if those adults also love Jesus.
8. Be a Servant of All. My mom didn’t do a lot of this for me when I was a kid but one thing she did do? Serve and love others with a beautiful heart. I grew up watching her volunteer at the homeless shelter, buy groceries for the poor, host friends who were down and out at our house and give away a lot of money to charity. Model this servant love for others in all you do and it will become a faith value for your kids later! One of the key tenets of christianity is being a servant of all and it’s these actions that make a big impact.
9. Share Your Faith Regularly. Sharing your faith can be hard, but hear me out. When we are in a loving relationship with God, that energy naturally flows out of us. Rather than think of this as “evangelism” – just speak openly and honestly to others about your life. If a prayer was answered or God helped you through something difficult, talk about it! When your kids hear you regularly talking about God, they’ll naturally follow suit when He helps them in their own lives. The more you speak freely about God, the more naturally it will come to you and honestly, begin to transform your life.
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Check out my video on this topic below:
- Mama Bear Apologetics
- Talking with Your Kids About Jesus
- Bible Belles
- Raising Kingdom Kids
- Jesus Storybook Bible
Check out some of my podcast episodes featuring great female leaders to follow on this stuff including:
- Phylicia Masonheimer, Every Woman a Theologian
- Amy Gannett, Tiny Theologians
- Laura Wifler, Risen Motherhood