5 Ways to Foster Faith in Your Kids Child expert offers tips to get you started June 3rd, 2014 Maria Wolf
5 Ways to Foster Faith in Your Kids
5 Ways to Foster Faith in Your Kids Child expert offers tips to get you started June 3rd, 2014 Maria Wolf
Bible Blog

How do you nurture faith in your children?

It doesn't happen overnight, says child expert Margi McCombs, PhD. It takes time, intention and a willingness to make God and the Gospel part of your family's identity.

Dr. McCombs offers five ways to help you make faith a part of your children's lives, from little kids on up.

  1. Model the behavior you want your kids to emulate. Kids' brains are like sponges, says Dr. McCombs, a child educator with more than 30 years' experience. "They soak up what's around them, all the time, everywhere, every day. Remember that more is caught than taught. There's great truth in that expression. You can say all you want. But kids watch what you do. And they will follow how you act, not what you say."
  2. Follow Deuteronomy 6:5-7. "Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, and strength. Memorize his laws and tell them to your children over and over again. Talk about them all the time, whether you're at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning." (CEV)

    Dr. McCombs encourages you to "talk to your children about God over and over again, that is, while you're in the minivan on the way to the mall, going to school in the morning, on the way to soccer in the afternoon, anytime. That way, God becomes a normal part of family life."

  3. Avoid a performance-based gospel. There's danger in tying God's love to your child's behavior. Therefore, avoid using these kinds of statements: "If you're good, God will love you even more," or "You've made God angry because you just hit your sister."

    "It's easier to base our faith on performance because we can measure it," says Dr. McCombs. "But that's legalism, not God's grace, which cannot be measured."

    Certainly, children need to learn rules and moral behavior, she continues, because they provide a social and moral structure. But teaching children that God will love them less if they do something wrong is unhealthy for them and simply untrue.
  4. Emphasize the intersection of the sacred and the secular. Don't isolate children in the proverbial Christian bubble, Dr. McCombs urges. While it's important to nurture faith in your children, don't do it so that faith formation is an end to itself.

    "If you're raising children who never see or experience the intersection of the secular and sacred worlds, then what's the Gospel for?" Dr. McCombs questions.

    "The reason we are in this world is to serve other people and be agents of Christ in a world that needs him desperately. We need to bring the sacred into the secular world. That's being a light to the world."
  5. Let your child know that God teaches you, too. Parents aren't perfect, and they're sinners just like everybody else. Let your child know that you struggle, too, when people are mean and hurtful. But emphasize that you rely on God to soften your heart toward them and help you pray for those people, says Dr. McCombs.

    This will resonate with your children when others hurt them. You've modeled the behavior of kindness, not hatred. And your child will learn kindness is a Christian response.

Read more posts about: Healthy RelationshipsChildrenFamily

Maria Wolf
Maria Wolf

Maria Wolf is a writer at American Bible Society and has more than 20 years of experience as a journalist. She is a classically trained soprano who uses her gift of music to minister to the congregations of St. Gertrude in West Conshohocken, Pa., and Mother of Divine Providence in King of Prussia, Pa.

See more posts from Maria Wolf

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