Times change. Trends change. Technologies change. What can we expect to stay the same? In the midst of change, our children need a faith that withstands the test of time. Our goal as parents is to raise children who become firmly rooted in faith as adults. So, we have been given the task of imparting a view of the world not only in our words but also in our deeds. We demonstrate for our children an understanding of who God is, how deeply they are loved, and what living a life in relationship with Christ can look like, day-to-day.
Revolutionary Parenting by George Barna offers research-based direction that can help us parents with a level of intentionality that is counter-cultural today, establishing the consistency needed to help children to grow in faith. Here are ways revolutionary parents encourage spiritual champions:
As parents, we know consistency matters. We can see the impact that this has on our kids, especially in terms of behavior. But, revolutionary parents also say it out loud and live it in the teachable moments. Showing our children that some things are stable and constant helps them understand the consistency of God's design in the world. Offering this consistency also allows us to relax and trust that they are safe as they wander into world. Sometimes things aren't as stable as they should be, and we can acknowledge that. Sometimes people break things, but God is still faithful and his designs are still the way things are supposed to be!
As Christian parents, we cannot overlook that we model for our children that which Jesus offers each of us--the generousness and faithfulness of God. What He says is true, is true. What He says will come, will come. Sometimes this is about keeping promises, sometimes this is about sticking to our own rules, sometimes it's about following through with consequences. While this may seem like a common sense approach to parenting, it is also a deeply spiritual lesson that is lived out before our kids every day.
In a world where people can change their behavior like a teen changes clothes, it is vital that we teach our children that what is right and wrong is not situational. It's not about convenience or who you're with. Instead, our behavior and our very personhood should remain consistent from one environment to another. Whether we are with our church friends, or on the sidelines of a high school football game, or chatting online, we are to live in the way that we have been taught. In teaching this expectation, we are educating them to recognize what a Christian life looks like and giving them the tools to live out this faith regardless of whatever others are doing or whatever environment in which they find themselves.
There is no way around this truth. When we live a consistent Christian life in front of our children, they not only see the world biblically but also find the structure comforting and enabling. As we talk with them about how we understand the world around us from a place of faith, they begin to more easily see the role that God plays in our everyday lives and in the world around us. The world may be broken, but there is sense to it. This faithful understanding matures with our children and provides for them a solid ground upon which they can stand even as they grow and life becomes more complicated.
It takes a community and church to raise our children, but the church must help, not lead. Parents are the spiritual leaders in the lives of our children. We are given the task of forming them as citizens of God's Kingdom. We help them not only know about God but also to know Him personally. We help them see how all the earth is the Lord's, and all endeavors are meant to glorify him. This is not work we can delegate! And while the church plays a vital role in helping all the members of a congregation grow spiritually, it is not their job to parent. The church is both a resource and a context that speaks life and truth into the lives of our children. It is a place that can offer us community and opportunities to serve. But if we delegate to the church the spiritual formation of our children, we make them spiritual orphans, left to the care of others. It is to us they will turn with questions. It is to us they will return when mistakes are made. And, it is to us that they look for a daily example of a faith lived out loud.
Yes, times and trends may change. But, as revolutionary parents raising children in Christian faith, we teach our children that God remains true and consistent throughout our lives. We have been given these years to live out our faith consistently before our children, not only so that they see faith in action, but also experience deeply the God in which we believe. We model a deep relationship with Christ that will impact their choices and decisions for decades to come. Children who do not depart from what they have been taught are a blessing, indeed!
Rev. Jason Ruis
Rev. Dr. Steven Koster