Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Raising Your Kids for Christ

My pastor recently also asked me to offer tips to parents on how they can talk with their children about Christian truths and evidences.  As a proud father of two young girls (5 and 7), I understand that I have a responsibility to train up my children in the Lord [Proverbs 22:6].

What follows are some of the tips I offered.

1. Family Devotions/Worship Time

It is my conviction that families should try to have a scheduled time each day to sit down, read, and discuss the scriptures, and to pray and praise the Lord.  This will look different for each family.  In our house, we do catechism questions [1] with the girls during dessert.  Before bed we read an account from the scriptures or learn about one of God's attributes. [2]  Lastly, we end our devotional time praying for others. Further, I sometimes lead the family in praise on my guitar.

2. Stop sharing "stories" with your kids

In my house we don't read Bible "stories."  We read Bible accounts.  I want to convey to my children that there are good reasons to believe that the events recorded in the Bible actually happened in space and time.  The Bible is not full of "stories" in the same way Cinderella is a "story," but gives an accurate account of history.  Therefore, I refer to it as such.  When my children ask me a Bible question I try to remember to say, "Let's check what the record says."

 I was very pleased the other night when my 5 year old daughter climbed into bed, grabbed her children's Bible and said, "I need to read an account from my Bible."

3. Share what you are learning

As parents we need to be actively learning how to make a case for the Christian faith and then share those arguments and evidences with our family. [3]  This can happen while driving in the car or over dinner.

4. Learn a new language

In addition to using words like faith and hope with our little ones, it important that when we talk about our Christian convictions we include words like trust, evidence, and logic.  Our children need to understand that Christianity is grounded in that which is logical and reasonable.  Therefore, when discussing our trust in Christ, we should emphasize the importance of sound thinking and reasonable conclusions.

5. Think out loud with your kids

A few days ago my 7 year old daughter came to the realization that there are many other so called "gods."  I pointed out that there are indeed numerous people who have worshiped all kinds of things as God and I asked her the following question- "If there are so many other people worshiping all these other so-called gods, how can we know that our God is the true God?"  She thought for a moment and said, "Because our God gave us the Bible!"  I thought that was a fairly good answer for a seven year old.  As she gets older we will talk about other good reasons to hold this conviction.

Challenge your kids with questions and think out loud with them regarding the answer.  If you don't know the answer, research it with them!

6. Teach Your Kids to Seek Answers to Their Questions

My daughters often ask me questions about the Christian faith or the existence of God and I'll freely admit that sometimes I don't know an exact answer.  When this happens I will answer the question to the best of my ability and then let them know that I am going to look into it for them.  Then I research the question and share the answer I found with them.  In doing this it is my goal to not only provide them with an answer to their question, but also to model a diligent search for truth.  As my children grow older my goal is to research answers to their questions with them so that they may ultimately learn to be independent seekers of truth.

7. Model Self-Control in Conflict Resolution

As the father of two young ladies, drama is in no short supply in the Gross household!  However, my girls know that my wife and I will not help them resolve a conflict or have a discussion with them until they have calmed down and are able to speak to us calmly.  Further, when we are having  a disagreement with them, we both try to remain calm and offer reasonable grounds for the decisions we have made.  This hopefully models for them how to engage in not only sound conflict resolution but will also transfer into their Christian defense as they get older.

8. Argue with your Kids

Some of you might be thinking, "Chad, I don't have a problem with this one!"  I don't mean that kind of arguing!  Allow me to explain.  My daughter and I were in a store awhile ago and she pointed out a Barbie doll that caught her eye and she said, "That Barbie is not dressed appropriately."  I continued by asking her why the outfit was inappropriate. She said, "Because her belly is showing."  I said, "What is wrong with that?"  She said that was only for God to see!  Ha!  We discussed the importance of dressing modestly and moved on.  But here is the point: I realized she said that because her mom and I have taught her what is appropriate for ladies to wear and what is not; however, I want her to understand why we hold these convictions.  Otherwise, she is merely parroting what we are saying and ultimately that is not going to teach her to own her worldview.  I don't want to just pass my faith on to my kids.  My goal is to equip them with the tools necessary to evaluate Christianity objectively and conclude that it is true.  Then they will live it out!

What about you?  What suggestions do you have?

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:

1. We use Big Truths for Little Kids: Teaching Your Children to Live for God by Susan Hunt and Richie Hunt.
2. We use William Lane Craig's excellent children's book series What is God Like? to discuss God's attributes.
3. If you are just beginning to learn the arguments and evidences I recommend William Lane Craig's On Guard, J. Warner Wallace's Cold-Case Christianity and Greg Koukl's Tactics.

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