Monday I read a tweet by BreakPoint that said:
According to the Barna Research Group, three in five “Christian” kids abandon the Church after the age of 15. Eighty-four percent of 18 to 29 year olds who call themselves “Christians” admit that they have no idea how the Bible applies to their occupation.
3 in 5 is too many, wouldn’t you say?
And it’s frightening.
I can’t guarantee that your kids won’t abandon their faith, but there are a few things my husband and I have learned as we’ve parented our kids and watched them embrace and own their faith. The impetus of writing You Can Raise Courageous and Confident Kids was this bedrock belief that we can create the kind of environment for our kids that makes them want to hurry after Jesus.
Here are 3 ways you can woo your kids to own their faith:
- Be real. Kids can detect when we are saying platitudes but aren’t living them out. When there’s a spiritual disconnect, we lose credibility with our kids. Share your struggles (at age appropriate times). When you don’t know an answer, admit it. When you pray, be gut-level honest. After all, you are not saving your kids to become robots for the kingdom. You’re inviting them into the great paradox–that when we are weak, Jesus is strong. If we always put up a strong front, we’ll miss God’s sufficiency. If we are all our kids need, why would they need Jesus? He is the perfect one.
- Create a haven. The world outside our door is crazy, shifting and shifty. It can be incredibly painful. A haven-like home lets kids be themselves, to be real, to experience radical grace. Your home should be the most community-centric place. It should be infectious and invitational. Your kids should long to bring their friends over because peace reigns there. Why is it that we are kinder to strangers than the people populating our homes? This should not be. A haven home exudes kindness and respect.
- Leap outside your comfort zone together. Nothing changed a kid (and you) more than countercultural ministry. The best (and possibly most painful) growth we did as a family happened on French soil. We leaped together. We cried together. We endured together. You don’t need to go far from home to experience this. You can volunteer at an AIDS house, feed the homeless, paint a community center. Pulling away from the crazy American dream for a moment to focus on the needs of people different from you will show your children that Jesus is real to the whole wide world, not just your circle. This broadens your kids’ faith.
What about you? How have you helped your kids own their faith? This is a community, and we’re all in this together.