As a Christian parent you know that it’s primarily your responsibility to teach your children about Jesus Christ and the Bible; but how do you actually go about doing that? Take them to church, say grace before dinner, maybe pray with them at night before bed-time when they’re young… but what do you do when they get older and life isn’t so simple anymore?
Notice that it doesn’t say “lecture your children” or “bring them to the priest so he can teach them.” Faith is passed along from generation to generation in very simple ways – parents leading by example and talking with their kids about the importance of living a life of faith in Jesus Christ.
Here are my practical suggestions for Christian parents who want to teach their kids to love Jesus Christ, but don’t know where to begin:
- You love Jesus first. This is HUGE! If your kids don’t see Christ in you, then your words will seem pretty hollow (because they are). Make sure you kids know how you became a Christian and what difference Jesus has made in your life. Lead by example.
- Talk about Jesus with your kids casually. Don’t be a preacher. Just talk with them and ask them what they think about Jesus, the Bible, Sin, Salvation, Heaven & Hell, Death, etc. Talk around the dinner table, in the car, on the golf course, etc. If you have 2-3 minute conversations that are simple and honest on a semi-regular basis, I am very confident those will go farther than an intense, hour-long sit down lecture on biblical theology. Family devotional times are great (I very highly recommend them!), but don’t let them be the only time you mention your faith.
- Ask more questions than you answer. All of us learn best through discovering answers, not by simply being given answers. Ask good and tough questions, then resist the urge of simply giving your teen the answer. Direct them into discovering the answer (in Scripture – which means you need to know your Bible… see #1 above!).
- Allow your teen to disagree. We all have doubts and wrestle with the Truth sometimes, and that’s ok. Give your teen the freedom to be honest about his/her disagreements and doubts. This doesn’t mean you should be “ok” with blasphemy or atheism or whatever, but make sure your teen knows that he/she can be honest with you and that you won’t freak out if they don’t automatically agree with what the Bible teaches.
- Prayerfully remember that God doesn’t have grandchildren. Just because you’re a Christian that doesn’t mean your teenager will be one too. Loving Jesus Christ is a precious gift of God that we all pray for our children to receive. Too often, we put that responsibility on ourselves – “If my son doesn’t love Jesus it’s because I did something wrong!” Remember that salvation is God’s work, not yours. You are not the Holy Spirit, but you can pray – and prayer works! Pray daily, diligently, and specifically for your children, and trust God to do His work.