Wednesday, January 18, 2012

4 ways to pass faith along in your home

The family is the central place for nurturing faith. This is the place where prayer, reading scripture, and the language of faith is best formed. 

What about church school? Discipleship classes at church do help but they really only supplement what is happening at home. Think of it this way: there are 168 hours in the week. Your child will spend at the most two hours per week at church.

If all of the family’s spiritual nourishment happened at the church, that family would starve to death!

The church cannot provide all the spiritual nourishment that a family needs. What is happening with the remaining 166 hours in the week?

Families are busy with many pressing demands: career, grocery shopping, sports, dance lessons, attending worship, chores, and many other activities.

Unfortunately, these pressing activities tend to displace faith formation and spiritual rhythms in the home.

I am always saddened when I hear a parent lament their adult child’s rejection of church and faith. “I don’t understand,” the parent says, “I raised them in the church.”

Such statements signal an imbalance between spiritual formation in the home vs. faith formation in the church.

So what should you consider as you develop deeper spiritual rhythms at home?

1. Know and model truth Psalm 78: 1
Since we can’t depend on the church to supply all the spiritual insight needed to develop faith, it’s very important that parents invest themselves in knowing and modeling God’s truth. Faith is more caught than taught. Children will treasure what their parents treasure. Psalm 78: 1-3

2. Teach God’s ways Psalm 78: 4
Deuteronomy 6: 5 says that the essence of true faith is to love God with everything that we have.

Loving God is not a Sunday foray into a sixty-minute worship experience. Loving God is an every day, all encompassing relationship.

Notice Deuteronomy 6: 6-9
First, loving God is a priority of the heart; then teach your children how to love God in the natural ebb and flow of life. When going on walks; when doing chores; while driving in the car, as you go to bed at night. Don’t give them twenty minute sermons. They won’t remember your lectures, but they will remember encountering God’s truth in Scripture and in the ordinariness of life.

3. Take the long view Psalm 78: 5-6
Here’s the reason why we are committed to passing faith along to our children: so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God but keep his commandments. This is not a quick fix that happens overnight. Discipleship takes time.

Taking the long view also means influencing the next generation. My good friend asked me years ago, “Ray, how many generations do you want to impact?” Psalm 78: 6-7 envisions the next generation knowing God, even their children and that even the yet unborn might one day arise and teach their children! That's at least four generations!

4. Remember the grace of God
If you are reading this with sighs and feelings of guilt, you have missed the point. No parent is perfect. I am asking you to do something as opposed to nothing. God is gracious and can take the seeds we plant at home in our family and cause them grow and bear fruit. May the Lord help us as we reach our families for Christ.

To the reader: What else would you suggest to those seeking to nurture faith at home? Write your thoughts below.