One of my colleagues encouraged me to repurpose some of my messages from the Family Matters series as articles. What follows is extracts from a sermon titled Building a Christian Home, based on Proverbs 24:3-4.
Building a Christian Home
The average Christian child or youth in North America attends a church service 1.7 times a month. That’s 24 times a year! That’s not much. Anyone who knows anything about children’s faith formation would agree that it’s impossible to establish a child’s confidence or trust in God in only one day a year. Yet the strategy of many Christian parents is to entrust their children’s faith formation to the local church.
The average parent has 3,000 hours a year interacting with their children. That’s 125 days a year! The potential of three-thousand hours of faith formation in the home versus twenty-four hours in the church is staggering.The primary responsibility for cultivating the image of Jesus in your children and helping them live according to a biblical worldview rests with you. Click To Tweet
Parents, God’s plan is for you to nurture your children’s faith. The primary responsibility for cultivating the image of Jesus in your children and helping them live according to a biblical worldview rests with you. You can’t outsource the discipling of your children to a local church or Christian school. At best, a local church or Christian school can only supplement what you do at home.
So, how do you set about building a Christian home? Here are six suggestions:
Live for Jesus
Building a Christian home begins with a commitment to live for Jesus. For your home to be everything God planned for it to be, you must acknowledge that you and your family need Him. Do you love the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength and mind? (cf. Luke 10:27). Are you practicing the presence of God in your daily life? Are you filled with His Spirit and exercising faith in what you say and do?
The most crucial element in constructing a Christian home is nurturing a relationship with Jesus. If your children are going to open their hearts to Jesus, they must see you opening your heart to Him. Only when you have a genuine connection with Jesus will you have something of value to share with your children. Is Jesus the unseen master of your home? Other concerns should be a shadow or dream compared to your family walking with Jesus.God’s plan is for parents to make Christ’s character visible by matching and modelling it daily. Click To Tweet
The foundation for a Christian home is a parent’s commitment to live only and always for Jesus. The best object lesson to connect your children with Jesus is right in front of their eyes – it’s you! This is pivotal. God’s plan is for parents to make Christ’s character visible by matching and modelling it daily. Are you doing this? Are the things you’re living for worthy of what Christ died for?
Pastor and author Dane Ortlund says, “If we are parents, what’s our job? We can answer the question with a hundred valid responses. But at the centre, our job is to show our kids that even our best love is a shadow of a greater love. To put a sharper edge on it: to make the tender heart of Christ irresistible and unforgettable.”
Love your spouse
A healthy marriage is part of God’s plan for building a Christian home. When a husband and wife love and respect each other, their relationship is a source of security for their children. When children feel secure, they’ll likely want to have faith like their parents. The converse is also true. When children don’t see their parents in a loving relationship, their faith formation can be hampered.When you love your spouse, you create a more conducive environment for fostering faith in the home. Click To Tweet
How’s your marriage doing? Do your children see you submitting “to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21)? When you love your spouse, you create a more conducive environment for fostering faith in the home. “So, guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth” Malachi 2:15.
Listen to each other
Children may not listen to what we say about Jesus if we don’t listen to them. So, two-way communication is crucial for building a Christian home.Active listening, beyond simply hearing your children’s words, is essential for family faith formation. Click To Tweet
You may be hearing your children, but are you listening? Are you listening with attentiveness and empathy – to know and understand? Active listening, beyond simply hearing your children’s words, is essential for family faith formation. Aim to listen, not to judge or to condemn, but to rightly direct and encourage your children in the way of the Lord (cf. Proverbs 22:6).
Christian parenting requires you to be hands-on and hands-off. A spiritually discerning parent knows when to act and when not to get in the way of what the Holy Spirit is doing.
It’s good and right to set non-negotiable biblical boundaries for your children, to teach Christian values and beliefs clearly, and to establish transformational goals for your family. But do this wisely. Children require limits and guidelines, but we can’t look to rules to do what only God’s grace can do.The parenting battle isn’t the behaviour or attitude of our children; it’s fighting for who will rule their hearts. Click To Tweet
The greatest threat to your family isn’t evil in the world; it’s sin in our hearts. And one of the most sinister things in your children’s lives is their blindness to the depth of their spiritual needs. So, don’t insert yourself as an informant between God and your children. And don’t do anything that would hinder your children from becoming increasingly aware of God’s presence and encountering Jesus directly. For the parenting battle isn’t the behaviour or attitude of our children; it’s fighting for who will rule their hearts.
Labour in prayer
Prayer, especially prayer informed by God’s Word, fuels faith. Pray the scriptures and teach your children how to use them to guide, shape and give language to their conversations with God. And make sure prayer isn’t a hurried affair. Incorporate daily quiet time, studying, contemplation, and listening for thoughts or direction from the Holy Spirit. For, as the author and revivalist Andrew Murray said, “Prayer is not a monologue, but dialogue.”
Building a Christian home is about you, but not about you. The part that’s not about you is the mysterious work of the Holy Spirit that forms your family’s faith. The part about you is telling your children about Jesus in a way that helps them love and live for Him. So, to see the Holy Spirit at work in your home, you must constantly ask the Lord to inform and transform you, your spouse and your children. And to help you disciple your children, you must pray unceasingly for wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and strength.
Never think you can go it alone. You may not think you do, but you desperately need God’s help. There isn’t a single moment in the day when you can manage without Him.Building a Christian home is participating in a Divine activity. Click To Tweet
Building a Christian home is participating in a Divine activity (cf. Psalm 127:1). God’s the architect, engineer and contractor. He’s in charge. Your job is to join together, share, contribute, and cooperate with God’s plans and purposes for your family.
If any parent had the power to create resilient faith in their children, Jesus didn’t need to come. His life, death, resurrection, ascension, and return are clear evidence that no human can do what needs to be done for families. Pastor and author Paul Tripp says, “The more you pray, the more you confess your limits, the more you rest in God’s power, the more you’ll be freed from the temptation to do in and for your children what only God can do.”
Finally, you can’t build a Christian home without other people. You need help. Christian grandparents should be your first choice. Christian friends and relatives should also be consulted and involved. As well as the members of your church congregation, especially spiritually-minded empty nesters. As Pastor Rick Warren says, “We’re better together.”You can’t build a Christian home without other people. You need help. Click To Tweet
So, humble yourself and seek help. Admit your powerlessness. See beyond your doubts. And recognize that building a Christian home is being okay with your limitations.
© Scripture Union, 2024