Is faith-nurturing parenting essential? According to the 2022 findings of the Arbor Research Group, less than two-thirds of parents identifying as Christians say it’s essential for their family to connect with a faith community.
The research also revealed that most parents identifying as Christians place a higher value on their children’s mental health, access to opportunities and character development than their children’s faith development.
So, where does this leave us? Should parents who identify as Christians be more concerned about nurturing their children’s faith than their children’s nutrition, getting enough sleep, the influence of peers, or the responsible use of technology? Not in the view of most parents. The widely held view is that children’s faith formation, while significant, is less important than physical, emotional and relational priorities. According to the Orange/Parent Cue Report, parents who identify as Christians “consistently prioritize the same parenting values in almost every area” as secular parents.
Biblical view.Faith formation should be the centrepiece of family life. Click To Tweet
There’s nowhere in the Scriptures where developing children’s life skills, focusing on their career opportunities, or improving their security is more important than fostering their relationship with and understanding of Jesus and His Word (cf. Deuteronomy 5:7, Matthew 6:33, Matthew 22:37).
One in twenty Christian families pray and read the Bible together daily. Does this statistic bother, bewilder, or bore you?
A parent may identify as a Christian, but it’s not Christian parenting if the parent’s primary focus isn’t creating and maintaining family faith formation. Our beliefs and actions are at the heart of who we are. Christian parents, as distinct from those who may identify as Christian, prioritize biblical beliefs, morals and behaviour in the home over all other things.Parents should set the tone for the spiritual environment in the home. Click To Tweet
Creating a family faith-nurturing culture should never be an afterthought. In other words: Our children’s faith formation should never be an add-on, never be reduced to a Sunday activity, and never be restricted to bedtime prayers. Parents should set the tone for the spiritual environment in the home. So take up the challenge. Because it’s not Christian parenting if you’re not talking about God with your children wherever you are, with whomever you’re with, with whatever you’re doing, at any time of the day or night (cf. Deuteronomy 6:7).
Christian parenting can’t be stitched together with an amalgamation of different philosophies or practices. Adopting or favouring secular values is syncretism. Christian parents must stop tuning into popular parenting advice and listening to the voice of culture. We should only listen to One voice. Christian parenting is consistently God first and foremost.
We should weave children’s faith formation into the patterns, habits and rhythms of ordinary everyday life. Faith-nurturing parenting is a 24/7 pursuit. It starts with tapping into the Scriptures, obeying God’s Word, and prayerfully looking to Him for guidance and strength. There’s no retiring from doing this; connecting our children and their children with Jesus and His Story is a lifelong calling.It’s incumbent on parents, relying on God’s grace and provision, to initiate and maintain an emphasis on children’s faith formation. Click To Tweet
Where faith is seeded, gardeners are needed. If God’s plan is for Christian parents to tell and teach their children about His works and wonders (cf. Psalm 78:1-8), then it’s incumbent on parents, relying on God’s grace and provision, to initiate and maintain an emphasis on children’s faith formation. This requires constant attention to the use of time, selection of activities, and what’s discussed.
All parents need strategies or techniques to improve communications, clarify expectations, resolve conflicts, handle discipline, exercise supervision, and provide for their children’s basic needs – to name just a few. These things require our attention, but if they were all we needed, Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection would be unnecessary or superfluous.Christian parenting is achieving God’s outcomes for your children Click To Tweet
The values of Christian parents must be submitted to, informed by, and subject to God’s expectations. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5. Christian parenting is achieving God’s outcomes for your children. It’s inclining your heart to Jesus and, in so doing, knowing that you’re in the hands of the One who alone can commence, empower and preserve your children’s faith.
Placing God first in your family should be your daily goal, your primary parenting pursuit amid all other pursuits. Why? Because, among many reasons, if you don’t value faith-nurturing parenting over every other value, in the end, your child will value what you’ve chosen instead.
Do you have some thoughts about faith-nurturing parenting? Please share in the comments.
© Scripture Union, 2023