I want to encourage you to release your children to explore their own faith. Okay, that sounds very liberal. I apologize, but let me explain. I hope your children have a solid faith in the one true Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I would make that a part of daily prayer and intentionally lead them towards that reality for their own life. The truth, however, is that your children are some day going to question their faith. At some point in life, most people I know have questioned whether what they have always believed is true. My encouragement is to let some of that process occur while your children still live in your home or under your authority.
With that in mind, here are five quick suggestions to consider to spur a life-long faith and to allow your children to explore their faith:
1. When children are very young, set the stage for them spiritually with what you think is best for them. For example, if church is important, and I think it is, then do not let a 2 year old determine whether you go to church. Take them to church on a regular basis so it becomes a natural part of who they are as individuals.
2. At the same time, let the children’s needs play a part in deciding what church to attend. As tough as it may be on grandparents not to have their grandchildren in the same church, it would be better to have your children actually love their church experience than to attend somewhere they do not enjoy going.
3. Find opportunities to talk about faith and God in non-threatening, everyday environments. Talk about God should never be limited to “church time”. Make God part of your normal life. (He is you know!) Model living a life for Christ in front of your child.
4. As a child, having been raised in church and heard all the “stories”, attempts to explore his own faith, do not feel the pressure to answer every question they have. If children are seeking truth, guide them towards the source of truth (God’s Word) and let them explore it for themselves. This is the only way to make sure your children actually “own” their faith. When one of my boys was questioning eternal security, for example, I suggested he read the conflicting passages on the subject and encouraged him to reach his own conclusion. (He did, btw, and landed in the same place I land.)
5. Keep the lines of communication open even when your children are questioning what they believe. I have known so many parents who “freak” when their children express opinions about their faith that are contrary to their parents. I have never seen this reaction work to their favor. It usually causes further separation between the child and the parent. This is where I believe Proverbs 22:6 (Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.) comes into play. Parent towards Christ early in your child’s life, release them to explore, keep praying for them and loving them, and the principle in Proverbs is that they will return to their roots in time.
Children are going to question their faith someday. Any faith worth having involves periods of testing over time. Chances are good that you questioned your faith at some point. Allow your children to test their faith in God, but pray it happens while they are still in your home or listening to your counsel so you will be there to help them find their way Home again.