According to Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), nearly half of all young people raised in Christian families walk away from their faith when they graduate from high school. That’s the bad news. But here’s the good news: research shows that parents are one of the primary influences on their child’s faith. Asbury Family Ministries has been partnering with the FYI to help plan strategies to pass down faith. My blog for the next four weeks will focus on ways we parents can “Raise Them Up” so our kids can embrace a life of faith.
Many of our families struggle with making faith a priority in their household–mine included. Roughly 51 percent of Americans say they go to church or another worship service somewhere between once a month and multiple times per week, while 49 percent said they go rarely or never. We have so many demands on our time like travel sports, dance competitions and work. When I look at the schedules of today’s family it is no wonder that participation in a faith community gets left behind. The abrupt halt to our hectic schedule caused by the pandemic gives us an opportunity to reset our priorities.
Life in Biblical times was centered around the family. Most of the people would live in their family unit their entire lives. Everything was taught and passed down in families. There was a common belief in ancient times that children were punished by the sins of their parents. The old testament teaches that God does not unjustly punish kids for their parents actions but our flaws as parents can and do impact our children in significant ways. The National Association for Children of Alcoholics notes,
“Alcoholism and other drug addiction tend to run in families. Children of addicted parents are more at risk for alcoholism and other drug abuse than are other children. Children of addicted parents are the highest risk group of children to become alcohol and drug abusers due to both genetic and family environment factors.”
In the book of Deuteronomy the scriptures challenge us to pass down faith in our everyday life. In order for us to “Raise Them Up” in a life of faith we need to take seriously the challenge to be the primary spiritual leader in our children’s lives.
I am not asking you to be perfect Christian parents; that is not going to happen. But I want us parents to take responsibility for the spiritual lives of our family. I want us to look at three ways to start building a spiritual home.
- Don’t be afraid to admit you are wrong. I firmly believe that the phrase “I was wrong” can be one of the most powerful parenting tools at your disposal. Kids need to know how to deal with mistakes and they are watching our every move. When you mess up, own it, change your behavior and move on.
- Don’t let kids deal with adult issues. According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 1 in 3 of all adolescents ages 13 to 18 will experience an anxiety disorder. Our kids have so much pressure on them to succeed academically and in extra curricular activities. The last thing they need to deal with is our adult issues. In the book “Losing Your Marbles, Playing for Keeps” Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy talk about 6 things every kid needs over time to thrive. One of these is FUN! We need to plan to have fun with our family at least once a week. Game nights, picnics, road trips, anything that will get them smiling and laughing.
- Unpack your baggage! I challenge you to journal about the things in your life that keep you from God. Yes that’s right–sin. What is holding you back? What do you not want your kids to struggle with? You can be free from those things that keep you from living a full, authentic life. For some, therapy may be needed, for others, just a lifestyle change. Whatever it is, God can make things new and reset your life and the life of your family.
We all are in places of influence and authority over young people and children. Parent, grandparent, teacher, aunt, cousin, or friend, there is likely someone who is looking up to you. What you believe about God matters. How you live out that faith matters. You matter! It is an understatement to say that this summer will be a little different. Try and see it as an opportunity to make some changes and put faith in the center of your home.
More to Come,