Last week I mentioned that there are dozens of studies that identify parents as the most important influence on the religious lives of their children. Parents play the largest role in their child’s spiritual formation. Church and youth groups can help, but ultimately they will learn more from their own family.
The question is, “How do parents pass on the faith to their children?” The answer…get radical. Kenda Creasy Dean, a youth ministry professor at Princeton University, states: "Parents who perform one act of radical faith in front of their children convey more than a multitude of sermons and mission trips.”
Getting radical does not necessarily mean doing something outrageous. Getting radical is simply living out our faith on a daily basis. Our kids primarily learn from us by what we do more than what we say. Unintentionally, many parents communicate these truths: (1) Church is something you attend if you have the time. (2) Faith is a good thing but doesn’t really affect everyday life. (3) You can be a Christian without actually following Christ.
Ouch! My intention is not to make us feel guilty…but for each of us to look at our own lives and examine what our actions are teaching the next generation. Will we ever be perfect as parents? No. However, our prayer is to be people who radically follow Christ and show others what it means to be a Christian. Our kids are watching…hopefully we will teach them compassion, service, forgiveness, courage, and faith!
Get Radical Tips:
- Give (regularly and spontaneously)—sponsor a child through World Vision and have the whole family help in writing the child letters. Give away toys and clothes periodically that the family no longer uses. Tithe and give money to the benevolence fund on communion Sundays.
- Pray a lot! Go to the altar at church. Have devotions in the morning.
- Connect and invest in a church. Attend regularly and find a place to serve.
- Attend a mission trip or service project with your kids.
- Forgive others and ask for forgiveness when needed.