How Do I Teach My Kids About Our Faith?
“What is God?”
“Who is Jesus?”
“Why is church so boring?”
These are big questions. They could have been asked by almost anyone. During my career as a Children’s Minister among non-denominational Churches of Christ, I’ve heard them mostly asked by children. Kids have really unique spiritual insight, as well as creative questions about faith and religion. This can scare some adults, though.
I’ve met a lot of parents, and worked with other ministers who experience this same dilemma, that are afraid of the big questions from young children. I think we get scared that if we don’t know all the answers, we could push children away from faith development or that we might let them down. I have a deep breath moment for all of you parents, grandparents and caregivers out there. . .
We actually don’t know all the answers. And that is as it should be.
No matter what our faith background or preferred faith tradition, in order for us to truly follow a divine being, that being must be bigger than we can conceive or explain. If our deity is so small that we can explain every aspect of God to a small child, then our deity is no god at all. However, for our God to be the entity we follow as a guiding force for living, we must be able to approach that God on any comprehension level. Which means, we are tasked with developing the faith of the small children in our care, as well as the growing children in our care, and then the teenagers in our care. While that task seems daunting, you don’t have to do it alone.
Let’s chat about some ways, and even tools, for developing Faith Formation in our families:
- Your faith tradition wants to be your partner. In the sixteen years I served among churches, I had the privilege of meeting and collaborating with leaders from all different kinds of faith tribes. I have never come across a group of faithful people that didn’t want to lend a hand, walk alongside and guide parents in bringing their children up in faith. If you feel alone, ask questions and look for resources offered in your chosen faith community.
- There is endless research in the academic and religious world that is available at your fingertips. New curriculums, study guides, toys, and books are produced every year that are based on the best statistics and experiences of real ministers and parents in the field and in the home. Check your favorite bookstores for these things. Spend ten minutes on Google looking for “faith formation parenting resources.” Surely you can leave Fantasy Football or your favorite Pinterest recipe board for a few minutes-wink!
- Trust your instincts AND seek wise counsel. If you are a caregiver and you care enough about the future spiritual health of your child to give it the priority of your time, your finances or your focus, then you have instincts leading you to teach your children well. When you are unsure about your instincts regarding sleeping habits, healthy eating, proper education or age-appropriate technology, who do you turn to? Your people. You ask your friends, you ask the professionals in the life of your child, and you weigh those opinions with your own beliefs. The combination of these two efforts produces results guided by both wisdom and love.
- You are a learner, too. This is the most important aspect of strong Faith Formation for children. You are always growing closer to your God and your way of faith-filled living, just like your child is growing. Share that journey with them. Expressing your own doubts and fears (in age-appropriate ways) shows your child that it’s okay to ask questions and to have convictions. Confessing your struggles among your family teachers your children that the God you serve is both a teacher and a redeemer, so they don’t have to be perfect. Both you and they need only try again, everyday, to be holy and faithful, together.
Personally, I am from an evangelical Christian background, so much of this guidance is seated in that tribe of faith. These principles can also be applied to whatever tribe of faith your family is following, too. Listed below are some of my favorite resources for parents who want to dive deeper. Will you share your struggles with family Faith Formation in the comments? Ask questions about where you’re searching and what you hope to find or instill in your children. Let’s lean on each other and we move forward.
Parenting Beyond Your Capacity by Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof
Spiritual Parenting: An Awakening for Today’s Families by Michelle Anthony
The Phase Project: It’s Just a Phase so Don’t Miss It website
“No matter what our faith background or preferred faith tradition, in order for us to truly follow a divine being, that being must be bigger than we can conceive or explain.”
“Confessing your struggles among your family teachers your children that the God you serve is both a teacher and a redeemer, so they don’t have to be perfect”