While grace represents the core of our theology, our research identified a number of other factors that are common among parents who raise kids with a lasting faith. Although there are no guarantees, the following principles can take some of the guesswork out of instilling faith in children:
“Sticky faith” parents . . .
. . . discuss their own faith journeys. They frequently share organically about their own faith journey; how it continues to impact and influence their life. Tell your ongoing story. Share how you became a Christian, and include what God is currenlty doing in your life.
. . . give their kids space to wrestle with tough faith questions — and help them find resources that can provide answers. Doubt, by itself, isn’t toxic. Doubt becomes toxic when it goes unexpressed. Giving permission for independent thought leads to a stronger faith.
. . . connect their children to caring adults. Kids need to develop a strong personal identity for faith to stick, and community helps accomplish this. When kids know adults who are “on their team,” they have a web of support to catch them when they fall. What’s more, these adults are often able to speak to them in ways parents can’t.
. . . involve their kids in service. Kids must see that faith inspires action. Our research found that family service was a key builder of lasting faith. Sometimes the local church was the catalyst for this service. Other times, parents took the lead in making family service a priority.
. . . prepare teens for a future that includes faith. As part of practical discussions on issues such as managing money and time, wise parents help young people plan their schedules and lives to include church.
Like any parenting priority, our children’s long-term spiritual growth stands a better chance of success if we think in advance about what is important — and how we can make time for those priorities. But while families that adopt certain practices tend to raise kids who have a lasting faith, there is no magic formula. Every child has a free will. Still, spiritual roots don’t grow deep by accident. God is the ultimate gardener, and He often works through parents to prepare the soil, remove creeping weeds and make sure kids have the spiritual nutrients they need to flourish.
It's never too late to begin impressing spiritual truth on your children. Don't allow the enemy to determine your level of influence as a parent. No matter what season of life you are in, your children and grandchildren will need you.
(Excerpt from Kara Powell "A Faith that Sticks")