Spiritual Formation of Families

If you asked the parents in your church about their plan to spiritually train their children, what would they say? The majority of parents want their kids to have a strong faith but do not feel equipped to pass it on.

The church has worked hard to create programs that help children's spiritual development and knowledge. While programs have a proper place, parents need to be the primary spiritual trainers of their children; a church will never have the same amount of time to invest as parents do nor will it ever have the depth of relationship that parents have with their children.

Pastors, alleviate yourselves from thinking your staff members are the primary spiritual educators of children. Instead, move into the right role: training and teaching parents to build God-honoring marriages and raise God-honoring kids.

How can your church be more family friendly? Most families walk into church only to be broken up — kids to one classroom, teens to another, parents to the nursery or adult classes. Figure out how your church can bring families together and keep them together. The personalities and situations of the families in your church will determine what works best.

Pastors, alleviate yourselves from thinking your staff members are the primary spiritual educators of children.

Churches also need to help parents get back to the Deuteronomy 6:4-9 model of passing on faith, a model of day-to-day teachable moments. Teach the adults in your congregation the Bible and how to study it for themselves. If parents know the Word, the foundation of faith will be there to pass to the next generation.

Give adults aids for talking to their children about God and the Christian life. The transition from knowledge to teaching for most parents is the hardest part. How many parents have tried doing a Bible study or devotional with their children and felt it failed?

  • Give them questions to talk about or songs to sing during car rides.

  • Provide CDs, magazines, books and other resources to listen to and read with their children.
  • Offer dinnertime discussion starters for ages 2 to 12.

  • Role-play with parents, asking them tough questions about cultural trends and why they oppose them.
  • Schedule apologetics classes for adults.

By training parents in their faith and creating a family environment in your church, you can help today's children become tomorrow's Christian leaders. Kids will reach middle school prepared to face peer pressure. They'll enter high school ready to stand strong in their faith. They'll sit in college classes and not buckle under the scrutiny of unbelieving professors and students. The church has a part in forming a new generation of faithful Christians. But it's through the parents.

Taken from Focus on the Family magazine, April, 2008.
Article copyright © 2008, Focus on the Family.
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