Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: Passing Faith To Our Children

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Passing Faith To Our Children

One of these days, by the grace of God, Andi and I are going to have children. We enjoy thinking about how our life will change and the things we want to incorporate into our lifestyle when children come along. I have been working with teenagers in the local church for almost a decade. Andi is currently a counselor for children in a hospital. One of the challenges I have faced through my 9 years of church youth/family ministry is guiding parents in their ability and desire to demonstrate genuine faith in their household. With many of my students, their faith far surpasses the faith of their parents. As my model for youth ministry continues to evolve into a more family based model, I am left pondering some important concepts to be used in my own home one day with my own child. I have recently been asked by two separate families how to best strengthen the presence of God in their homes. Here are a few suggestions.

First, do not forsake the dinner table. Over the last few years I have become convinced that this "ol' time" concept of gathering around the dinner table is a necessary routine for the family. I recently heard an interview with a professor of mine who has 6 children. He was recalling how often his family receives comments in restaurants in awe of their well-behaved children. The source of their good behavior stems from a nightly routine of sitting at the dinner table. He adds that this also affects other areas of their lives, not least of which is sitting through a church service together. At the dinner table is not only where the day's events are retold, but where prayer and reflection are offered.

Second, read the bible. Perhaps not the most alarming of concepts, but based on the number of families that actually read the bible together, you would think this radical idea has never previously been thought of. Just read the bible. A chapter a night, or even half a chapter. Along with that, it is never too early to begin teaching children doctrinal truth. I believe this is best done with the use of a catechism. A catechism is simply a set of questions and answers. The Westminster Shorter Catechism is wonderful, and there is even a Baptist version out there for my fellow Baptist friends. Parents will be surprised how even the youngest of children will begin answering the questions on their own. Anglican archbishop Peter Jensen has recently written that "doctrinal truths are essential if we wish to grasp the meaning of the stories and sayings of the Bible. We found it helpful to have a very simple catechism."

Third, remain committed to church. I would not be in favor of the child being out of the morning worship service every Sunday (as children's church is prone to do). Make sure your family is sitting together in the church service. I know some churches have fantastic children's church programs, and my church has about as good of one as I have seen (I support it and play a role in it), but that should never take the place of the family worshipping together. Even if the parent is worried that the service will be "boring" to the child.

Fourth, watch the tongue and tone (James 3:6). Through my NT study this past semester, my professor discussed how the course of life is partially set by the use of words. Pay attention to the words you say to your children and spouse, and the tone in which you speak them. You might be surprised.

Finally, only God can bring about faith. How many parents have raised their hands in despair, asking God what they did wrong. The parent has an enormous responsibility to properly teach and demonstrate the things of God, but even that does not produce guaranteed results. With a deep breath we are reminded that salvation belongs to the Lord. Thank God for that.


Anonymous Paul, in Bethel Park said...

In our house, we have family devotions after supper. We do this before anyone has a chance to take off for other pursuits. We use the Bible, along with the "Portals of Prayer" publication. In addition, we have a table altar hand made by my wife's brother, as a beautiful centerpiece.

If you want to see an example of these awesome table altars, go to our brother Dan's blogsite. Simply Google "Daniel Schumm" and you will be pointed to it. He is a terrific Pastor in Carmel, Indiana and the craftsmanship he has developed can only be a gift from God.

May 24, 2007 7:45 PM  
Anonymous Paul, in Bethel Park said...

The reference on Google is "New Mission Workshop". I promise you won't be disappointed.

May 24, 2007 7:48 PM  
Blogger stephsorrell said...

I am glad you are not against children's worship. Because you are so AWESOME in Hosanna House. I truly appreciate all the work you do with children and youth at GBC. And do not worry... the kids will not have Hosanna House every week... we can not even handle once a month! :) LOL! Thanks, for all you do! Blessings to you and Andi!

June 20, 2007 12:52 AM  

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