As parents, most of us naturally want our child to adopt our spiritual beliefs. We want our kids to experience a growing relationship with God.
The best way to foster your child’s spiritual growth is to make your own relationship with Christ a priority in your life. If we strive just to raise a kid who will commit to going to church every week, then we have missed the mark. Ultimately, we want to raise kids who have a vital and growing relationship with God. To do this, parents must model a growing and vital relationship with God ourselves.
Teach your kids that church attendance is not just a line item on your weekly to-do list, but that it is a place where vital relationships are formed and a place to foster spiritual growth and encouragement. Show them church is not just about ritual, but rather about corporately worshiping together with others and finding community with people who share your faith.
Don’t adopt a, “What happens in church stays in church,” lifestyle. Let your children see that your attitude toward worship and service and your commitment to Christ don’t start and stop at the church doors, but carry on throughout the week. When kids see their parents give hugs and share tearful testimonies in church on Sunday and then swear at neighbors and telemarketers or succumb to road rage or addictions during the week, they will ascertain that church is about “looking good” and miss the deeper meaning.
While you model good habits and set a precedent for your children living a value-based life, allow room for freedom. Keep church mandatory for your family – while your child is under your roof, make church a weekly event. But allow your teen to explore youth groups their friends attend or other programs that have a vital youth ministry. It’s important to remember that part of your teen taking ownership of her faith means granting her the freedom to wrestle, struggle, explore and ask questions during the process.
Create times for spiritual discussions during the week, like over supper. Help your teen to see that church attendance provides fellowship and teaching, but that “chewing on” that teaching daily and doing other readings or studies between weekly services really brings a deeper understanding of the teachings. Studies of spiritual maturity are showing that healthy spirituality and Christian maturity do not just come from church attendance and Bible reading, but rather from consistent scripture engagement. This involves things like sharing with others what we are reading in the Bible and applying it to our daily lives.
Finally, don’t give your teen all the answers when it comes to his faith. Encourage him to do his own exploring. When he appears skeptical or questioning, encourage him to search for a solution instead of giving him “pat answers.”
For more help maintaining your teen’s interest in church and her commitment to Christ, contact us today.