“Last year my oldest son went through a phase where he refused to finish his dinner and frankly his mother and I were tired of trying to meet his every whim. After going back and forth without any progress, I decided we would only feed him once a week. It was risky I know. As you can imagine the first week his energy level dropped and he wasn’t his normal energetic self. The good news however was every Sunday I took him out to eat at a nice restaurant and let someone else feed him. He was able to fill up, but then it was back to no food during the week.”
Let me stop here. Obviously, THE ABOVE DID NOT TAKE PLACE. However, it is happening spiritually every week in homes around the world.
Parents are outsourcing the complete spiritual training of their children out to church leadership and hoping for the best. Most Moms and Dads have bought the lie that a couple of hours in Kid’s church will give their kids everything they need for their spiritual growth. Wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, as a senior pastor I couldn’t ask for a better Children’s Pastor than we have here at Radiant, but her and the other Children’s ministers around the world are limited in the amount of time they have to invest in these children.
Think about it. The average child spends approximately 108 hours a month in the school classroom during a school month. If a child is receiving no discipleship at home, but going to church every single week, he or she is receiving 6 hours of spiritual equipping a month. That child is absolutely spiritually malnourished. Yet, the parents still wonder why their child isn’t thriving spiritually.
Check out two key scriptures that point to our role as parents in equipping our children spiritually:
Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)
6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Ephesians 6:4 (ESV)
4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
As a Dad, I feel this role deeply. As parents we’ve been given this precious gift of training our children up in the Lord and our time to do that is fleeting. I hear frequently from parents that they just don’t know what to teach them. Let me help alleviate this stress. If a child can learn it, you can teach it. This does not take a theologian.
Here are 4 Action Steps you can do now to grow your kids spiritually in your home:
1. Make a Plan. Start out by committing to sit down with your kids for a family devotion 3-4 times a week. Don’t try to go for it every single day, life happens. Share that plan with your family. (Going public helps with accountability)
2. Pray with them. I say “with them” because many parents make the mistake of taking the lead and praying every time they gather. Modeling is great, but allow your kids the opportunity to pray as well.
3. Teach them the Bible. That means as parents we’re going to need to be reading the Bible to have something to share. If you get to a passage you don’t understand, do some study and/or ask someone a bit further along in their understanding. Read or allow your child to read a passage of scripture and then talk about it. Draw out the principles you see and talk about how they can be applied in our everyday lives. (I recommend these.)
4. Leave time for questions. Some of the greatest teaching moments with my boys have been in their bottomless questions. Don’t get stressed by the rabbit trails that lead to other topics. Go with them. You’ll be amazed at where they lead you. Embrace the journey.
No doubt your church leadership is a gift to your family, but they should never substitute the ongoing discipleship that God’s called you to in your home.
Now, go find the joy of growing your kids spiritually.
*Following this article I was interviewed on The Frank Sontag Show in response. You can listen to it here.