The family unit is one of the most important factors in the sustainability of teenagers' faith. The American Bible Society asked 1,100 teens who the most important role models were in today’s society. Parents came in number one at 67.7%. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Are you living out the principle stated in Deuteronomy 6:6-7?
“While the vast majority (83 percent) believes parents should be most responsible for a child’s spiritual development, only 35 percent say their religious faith is one of the most important influences on their parenting, according to the study. This leaves nearly half (48 percent) who acknowledges their role in their child’s spiritual development, but fail to consider their own religious faith among the most important influences on their parenting” (“Lifeway Research Looks at Role of Faith in Parenting” Lifeway.com).
Something has to change. The youth minister, the pulpit minister, the Bible school teacher, and any other faithful Christian has little lasting influence on the spiritual development of a child when compared to the parent(s). So why do we accept the myth that Sunday Bible Class, Sunday AM & PM Services, Wednesday Class, and maybe one other youth function is enough? Why has the daily Bible study/devotion time in the home disappeared?
How can families strengthen and draw closer to the Lord? Without changes from both the youth and their parents it is impossible.
Here are a few ways families can change this trend:
1. Parents: Show Spiritual Leadership
Parents, it is your primary responsibility to help your children grow spiritually. Fathers, be the spiritual leaders you are called to be (Proverbs 6:20, Proverbs 22:6, Ephesians 6:4). Mothers, train your daughters to be godly women (Proverbs 1:8-9, Proverbs 6:20, Proverbs 22:6). This is your priority when it comes to raising children-their spirituality.
2. Exemplify Christ 24/7
We are the salt of the earth, the light of the world. Once we put Christ on in baptism, becoming a new creation, we must live for Him! That means no longer living for self, but living for Christ. We must exemplify Christ everywhere. We must show them His love, His Word, and His life by walking in His footsteps just as 1 Peter 2:21 says. This isn’t something we do when it’s convenient. It's a daily effort (Luke 9:23). It’s a lifestyle. It’s 24/7.
3. Parents: Don’t Underestimate The Youth
Teens of today have unlimited potential. They have the ability and resources to turn the world upside down just like the believers in Acts 17:6. The saying, “teenagers will be teenagers” gives teenagers an excuse to limit themselves. We need to encourage them to change the world. We need to challenge them by setting high goals for them to reach. It has been my experience that if parents and other adults do this, teens don’t disappoint. Encourage the youth to achieve what may seem impossible, because with God all things are possible (Phil. 4:13).
4. Youth: Don’t Do the Minimum
Teens, don’t sell yourself short. You have endless opportunities to change the world for Christ. You have school friends, teammates, and family members you can reach on a daily basis. You have media, phones, other technology, and new ideas that call be used to glorify God and expand the kingdom. Just because you are young doesn’t mean you can’t be a leader today (1 Timothy 4:12).
5. Make God Your Priority
As part of the 24/7 lifestyle—you must make God your priority. Our time is a good indicator of where our priorities lie. The average teen spends 7.5 hours every day consuming media (tv, phone, social media, etc.) but only 5 hours at “church events” every WEEK (Sunday class, AM service, PM service, Wednesday class, and other youth devotional). Don’t be fooled—if this is true of our families, our priorities are not in the right order. If we are truly seeking the kingdom of heaven FIRST (Matthew 6:33), what we spend our time doing should reflect that effort. Pray as a family. Go to church as a family. Study the Bible as a family. Grow spiritually as a family. If we spend time doing those things, God will be our priority.
6. Commit to Daily Family Devotionals
Parents and teens: you must work on this one together! If spiritual growth does not start in the home, the journey to spiritual growth and maturity becomes 100 times more difficult. With our busy schedules, God often gets put on the back burner. If each family commits to daily devotionals, the difference we will see in not just our youth, but our families will be amazing.
We want to help with this effort. In the coming weeks, we will kick off a special project in which we will provide one lesson for you each week (released monthly). The lessons will have a scripture and a few discussion questions to be read and discussed one night around the dinner table (which should also encourage family meals-one of the most important events a family can do). We will even make these lessons FREE. We want to help invest in you-families.
What other steps can families take to become more spiritual? We would love to hear from you. Please comment below.
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