We prayed that our four children would come to know and love Jesus with all their heart, mind, and soul. We focused on that as we raised them, leading them to Christ and then helping them grow in their faith.

There were trials and we made mistakes, but thankfully they were all walking with Jesus as they went off to college.

As I watched our young adult children deal with life and faith as they went through challenges, I saw that having a solid Biblical foundation in what they believed made a difference in how they responded to trials. Three of them leaned into God’s love, but one chose to walk away from his faith during a difficult time.

Unfortunately, our current culture doesn’t help kids to keep their faith.

American culture strongly promotes secularism and it’s pulling our teens and young adults away from their faith in droves.

Natasha Crain defines secularism as being “irreligious”.  Basically, secularists are NOT committed to the authority of religion and it’s god(s). (Faithfully Different, by Natasha Crain, p. 36.)

As secularism becomes the prevailing worldview that Christians encounter at every turn, more and more of us are mixing these mainstream secular ideas with biblical views. We take some ideas from the “instruction” book (the Bible) and some from what secular players come up with on their own. The resulting worldview is often more secular than biblical – a hybrid that’s no longer faithful to the Bible, whether we realize it or not.” (Natalie Crain, Faithfully Different, p. 47.)

What we’re seeing in America today is young adults who claim to be Christian but are NOT living by God’s principles. They have allowed secular beliefs to infiltrate their values, beliefs, and actions.

What can we do about this as parents?

 

 

Faith is Better Caught than Taught!

Being an example by living out our faith is key to helping our children stay strong in their faith after they leave home.

 

Christian Smith states in his book “Soul Searching” that “The best general rule of thumb is that the religious life modeled and taught to young people by their parents will be the most important influence in shaping their faith.”

 

We saw this to be true in our kids’ lives for the most part. However, there is no foolproof formula that will make our kids follow Christ. My family of origin practiced a nominal faith that wasn’t lived out in daily life, yet I came to Christ as a teen and have continued to follow Him throughout my life.

 

On the other hand, we raised all our kids with a focus on loving Jesus and tried to live out our faith as best we could, yet one of our sons turned away from faith for a time. There are no guarantees.  I still hold firmly to the belief that the vibrancy and steadfastness of our own faith will have a huge impact on our children’s faith.

 

Focus on relationships

In their document “Preparing to Launch” from the Fuller Youth Institute website, Dr. Terry Hargrave and Dr. Jim Furrow say that teens need emotional connection to stay strong in their faith and move into adulthood well. Mark Gregston agreed in his Engage 24 simulcast; your relationship with your teen is so important in helping them make good choices and to follow God.

 

It’s in the middle school years when we often see conflict start to happen between parents and children. Children who are age 13-14 begin to think more abstractly. They analyze why and how things work and often start arguing more at this age. Maybe you’ve experienced this? We need to allow them to think things out and share what they’re thinking without judgement, encouraging them to do it with respect.

 

Parents, I believe we need to listen more and lecture less.

 

We need to dialogue with our teens more, allowing them to figure out what they think and believe by talking it out together. And love them unconditionally as they work through some of the emotional ups and downs of adolescence.

 

Read the Bible together and ask questions to help them come to the place of having a Biblical worldview.

 

Discipleship – Be real with your children

Our children will learn more about how to navigate life if we share about our life as teens and young adults, mistakes, and all. It’s much more effective than lecturing and telling them what to do. Share what you observed, reflected on, and experienced in life. Be real.

 

Live life with them, let them be a part of your day and see you navigate life experiences. Have them come alongside you and help when you’re serving in church or helping a neighbor.

Middle school is the time to move from teaching to training.  Teaching is imparting knowledge and information; training is imparting practical skills to live out life using the knowledge they’ve gained.

 

Live out your faith, show your children how you spend time reading the Bible, praying, sharing your faith with others. This is basic discipleship – like Jesus did.

 

Offer a Biblical Worldview Course

Our children need a solid Biblical worldview to withstand the pressure to follow our culture’s secular lifestyle and beliefs. The current secular culture promotes self as the final authority, not God.

 

Offering a Christian Worldview Course in high school can help solidify your child’s faith and help them recognize the lies of the current culture and secularism.

 

Here are some suggestions for high school level worldview courses:

Have your teen use the Navigating High School Student Guidebook & Priority Planner

     

These two books will help your teen learn to manage their time keeping God first in their life. They’ll learn to set goals and live with their priorities guiding their plans. The Student Guidebook helps them focus on important skills and habits during high school to help them live for God in high school and beyond.

What if my child rejects our faith?

Initially, I struggled with anxiety and worry over our son who turned away from God. It took me awhile to surrender him to the Lord and trust God to bring him back. He made some very bad choices during that season, but thankfully he did return to faith in the Lord again.

Connected Families recommends we do the following if our children walk away from the faith. (We found these to be helpful as well):

  1. Give your fears and anxieties about it over to God.
  2. Love them like Jesus does.
  3. Show empathy, try to understand their viewpoint.
  4. Ask questions about their doubts.
  5. Pray for them!

Recommended Resources:

Faithfully Different Natasha Crain

Sticky Faith Dr. Kara E. Powell

Faith Survival Guide by Dave Glander