5 keys to fostering faith in your children
How do we get our kids interested in faith without forcing our own beliefs on them?
Whether you grew up in a Christian home or came to faith later in life, it can be tough to know how to inspire your children’s faith without being too pushy. The idea is to give them the tools they need to develop a relationship with God for themselves so they can feed this relationship for the rest of their lives. As we all know, that isn’t always easy even as adults, so it’s important to tread carefully and put in plenty of prayer!
- Set a good example. This is the single-most important thing you can do. Be consistent in your praying, Bible-reading, worshipping, churchgoing and serving. If they see you doing these things – and enjoying them – there’s a far greater chance they will also do (and enjoy) them. Share testimonies of how God has worked in your life and theirs. Be honest about any doubts you may have had and questions you don’t know the answers to. You don’t have to be perfect… you just have to be authentic about your faith.
- Find resources that work for them. There are hundreds of Christian resources out there to help kids test and develop their faith. The key is to find ones that are age-appropriate and suitably engaging… because a lot of them won’t be! Ask kids’ workers or friends with children of a similar age for recommendations. If you’re all excited about something but your kids just aren’t feeling it, try something else or revisit at a later date. Use your imagination – you could use different versions of the Bible, books, video clips, comics, films, songs, journals, playdough, crafts, Lego, nature, board games and a whole host of other things to get them interested.
- Be available. Christians often find themselves stretched thin between work, church and family commitments. Each is important, but if you want to encourage your children in their faith it’s important you’re around enough to do so. It’s good to spend time reading or praying together but allow them time to investigate for themselves. Show an interest in what they have learned and experienced. They will most likely have questions to ask and will want to share any exciting moments they’ve had with God, so set aside any distractions and give them your full attention. Encourage honesty and creativity, and take what they share with you seriously. Children are just as capable of encountering God as we are!
- Don’t push them too hard. Most children respond better to encouragement than pressure. If they go through a rocky patch, try to help them get back on track but be patient and offer support in a way they find constructive. Keep your tone positive and upbeat. Remind them of God’s goodness. Encourage them to go to groups they enjoy where faith is addressed. Stick some worship music on while you cook or eat together. In times of grief, offer sympathy and comfort without forcing anything. And don’t give up hope!
- Pray every day. This last point might just help to kickstart your own prayer life. Whether things are going well or badly in their faith journeys, bring them before the Lord in prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to minister to them and to grow their faith. Ask for God’s protection and comfort. Ask for the right words to say, and for wisdom about when to stay silent. And trust that he who has begun a good work will carry it on to completion (see Philippians 1:6).