the shape of leadership

How to Influence Your Children for Lifetime Faith

Biblical insights to help parents create an environment for faith to grow deep

Mark Entzminger on July 22, 2020

I grew up in the shadows of the church. We lived within walking distance of the church property and were there just about every time the doors opened. No, I was not a preacher’s kid. We were just very involved. The church was the centerpiece of my life, so it’s no surprise I’m serving in ministry today.

Of course, raising kids in church is no guarantee they will grow up to serve Jesus. As a father, I am keenly aware of this reality. I want to do everything I can to pass on my faith to my sons.

Fact is, raising children in today’s world is hard. Raising them to love Jesus is even more difficult. Ministry leaders often face additional pressures that place stresses on families or, worse, drive children away from Jesus and the Church.

Are ministers at a disadvantage when it comes to perpetuating faith? I’m convinced they are not. Although there is no silver bullet to lifetime faith, I believe ministry parents have a great opportunity as they raise their children to know Jesus.

Live It

The children of ministers hear a lot of Bible teaching. They also have an opportunity to see faith in action as we live it out at home. We can show them what kindness, forgiveness and generosity look like on a daily basis.

When we model those spiritual disciplines for our children, it makes a significant impact. It shows them we actually believe what the Bible teaches.

However, when there is incongruence between the faith we preach and the faith we demonstrate, our kids may become confused and disillusioned. Living out faith principles every day matters.

Discuss It

Down the road, the lessons we teach will continue to echo in the ears of our children. Even when we are not there to guide them, they will hear our words as loudly as when they were kids.

One-sided conversations don’t build lasting influence, though. Kids will listen to what we have to say when we also take the time to listen to them. We don’t need to have all the answers. Sometimes the best thing we can do is hear their questions and help them discover God’s answer.

When there is incongruence between the faith we preach and the faith we demonstrate, our kids may become confused and disillusioned.

The Bible teaches that questions can become opportunities for passing on our faith (Exodus 12:26-27; Deuteronomy 6:20-21). We can search the Scriptures together and connect with our kids in these moments.

Many people today wouldn’t even know where to begin with answering a child’s spiritual question. As ministers, we can engage in that teachable moment and make an eternal difference in the lives of our kids.

One of the best gifts we can give a child is the confidence that they have what it takes to become a godly man or a godly woman. When we welcome and respond to their questions, we are helping them develop that confidence.

Strengthen It

As Christ followers, we interpret the world through the lens of Scripture. We must help our children learn to do the same.

It’s not enough to teach the stories from the Bible. We need to point our children to the God of the Bible. Our job is to help them build a solid faith foundation, grounded in the truth of God’s Word. Deuteronomy 6:6-8 puts it this way:

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

The Word of God is the lens through which we interpret what is happening in the world. This is about more than just knowing the Bible; we must know the God of the Bible.

When reading Scripture, we can help our children see the grand story of redemption — God’s power and unending love, demonstrated in Jesus. This is the understanding our children need to navigate life successfully.

Our children’s faith will be tested. If the Word of God is their foundation, they are more likely to stand firm.

The first and most important mission field is our own home. Our children must ultimately decide for themselves whether they will serve the Lord. But as we live out our faith, engage in spiritual conversations, and help children build their lives on the foundation of God’s truth, we are equipping them for a lifetime of faith.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2020 edition of Influence magazine.

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