One thing that I think is lacking in American parents is planning the spiritual growth of our kids. We schedule appointments regularly for vaccines, dentists, and well-child check ups. We meet quarterly for parent/teacher conferences, and we painstakingly think through sports, practices, equipment and safety. However, when was the last time that we sat down and thought out how to mold and shape our kids as they walk with Jesus? Here are some of the ways that Mark and I are facilitating our children being in environments where they will meet with God and develop relationships with other people trying to be like Jesus:
1. We attend church. I know this is a “Duh” statement as pastors, but if we quit ministry tomorrow, we would be in church the next Sunday because we believe in God’s plan for church. My kids have some freedom within that: they can be in Kid’s class, sit in the main service, or work in Tiny Town. My kids rarely complain about going to church (or school for that matter) and I think the reason is that they know there’s not an option. I know that the average American family only attends church about 25-50% of the time, but from my perspective, it’s the consistency that makes the difference. If my kids aren’t there, they don’t make friends. If they don’t make friends, they struggle when they are there. I know that some families have custody issues that impact regular attendance, but that would just make the “on” weekends all the more valuable in my home.
2. My kids will go to camps, conferences, missions trips, and other “away events” on a regular basis. My kids need to love Jesus on their own and we decided before they were born to make church camp (and other events) a priority. I believe that one week away ever summer facilitates their relationship with God separate from us. Statistics prove that my kids will walk away from Jesus when they are 18 if we don’t allow them the freedom to figure out their own love for God. Although I believe weekly church attendance can play a role in that, I also believe in the power of getting away on planned spiritual retreats.
3. We provide them with Bibles. I did a lot of research about age-appropriate Bibles to find the right ones for the right stages of my kids. If our kids don’t have a Bible in the house that they can read, it is impossible for them to develop that habit of daily being with Jesus. They are never too young to read the Bible! Kennedy has a picture Bible that graphically tells the great stories of the Bible without words. She’s been “reading” it for 4 years and is now ready for the next step.
4. We pray together. Sometimes we pray over meals, sometimes we don’t. We really don’t make one way of praying a priority, but rather we pepper prayer throughout life in general. If there’s a scraped knee, we pray. If someone is angry, we pray. If daddy cooked dinner, we pray ALOT! Just kidding… But we do want to model for our kids how to handle the tough situations in their life and show them the need to immediately turn to God.
So, there’s some of the big ones. I’m not even saying that these should be on your list, but what I am saying is to think through what your list looks like. How are you fitting spirituality into your parenting? Maybe you are really new to Jesus and are still trying to figure out your own spiritual plan…good…let your kids in on that and develop a plan with them! They don’t need you to know it all; they need you to be growing and teach them how to grow as well!