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Raising Your Kids in Christian Faith

By Pastor Tom Anderson

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6.

The greatest gift any believer can give to their children is to pass on their faith to them. Children are not lumps of clay that parents can shape to their own liking. They are real human beings who eventually set their own direction in life. But the greatest influence in anyone’s life is their parents. And the most powerful education any parent can give a child is to harness the power of example. My own parents did this for me and I am deeply grateful. Here’s a few things they did for me that made a lasting impact on my life.

They showed up. Mom and Dad went to church every Sunday. It was the rhythm of our life. It was a statement of faith in space and time. It was on the calendar. It was a natural expectation in our home–just as much as the cereal in the cupboard. I could rely on it, that it would happen every week. Mom and Dad never stopped doing this their whole lives. They made sure I saw that their calendar revolved around worship and thanksgiving to God.

They talked. Faith, mission and Christian community naturally emerged in their conversations around the dinner table. It wasn’t because I asked questions or that it was pre-planned and scripted. It was organic. I heard about missions, projects, events and people of faith. I absorbed it like a sponge. I thought this is how normal adults get along in the world.

They prayed. My dad was the spiritual leader in my home. He said grace before our meals. He taught my brother and I a set prayer that we could use. For many years we took turns saying the blessing every other day. The words are still with me but now I know it wasn’t the words that were important. It was me participating in my family’s faith. We now know the statistics on fatherly influence. If the father is active in his Christian faith, there is a 70% chance his children will remain active in the faith when they grow up. It’s obviously not a sure thing but it is pretty significant.

They lived kind and gracious lives. Everyone has some hypocrisy but overall, my parents conducted themselves very much in alignment with their faith. They showed great patience and self-control when it came to disciplining me. They did not speak negatively or gossip about other people. They were active in helping other people in the community. For many years my mom worked with Lebanese immigrants in east Dearborn, many of whom were poor and illiterate. She volunteered in their schools and mentored young single moms in finding jobs and organizing their households.

They had me baptized. Going through my parents' papers recently, I found my baptismal certificate from 1958. It’s a treasure to me now. I know that from the beginning they surrendered me to God. They dedicated me to God. They knew that before I was their son, I belonged to God. I know they prayed for me all along. They knew that my life was not up to them–they could only do so much. The rest was between God and me. This is complete reliance upon the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is our teacher. He is the one who leads us into faith and no parent should forget that.

In many ways the world around us has turned negative toward Christian faith. It is clearly out-of-favor socially and kids pick up on this very quickly. Major corporations have written plans to promote their values and beliefs to the people who use their products. The software they provide for us is not without hidden messages.

Even among Christians there is often to be found an anti-church attitude that results in neglect of faith and discounting worship. I hear this all the time from stay-at-home believers. Ultimately, we have to take the world on its own terms and not waste our time wishing it were different. Instead we have to be different. We have to step up to actively pass on Christian faith and values to our children and grandchildren. None of us can take passing on our faith for granted. It’s the greatest thing we can do for our children.


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