Do you ever take time to consider if the faith you are trying to pass onto your children will stay with them as they get older and get to the point where they have to make decisions for themselves?
I had this concern with my daughter. It was important to me that she be raised in church and so we have been going regularly now since she was about 6 months old. Before that we went on and off, not regularly, and not involved in the church other than just occasionally going to the service. But I also wanted to make sure she continued to have strong faith once she got old enough to decide for herself.
Many studies have been done as to how you can try to improve upon the chances of children remaining in the church as they get older. A lot of those studies site how important it is for parents, and especially fathers, to go to church regularly. I totally believe that to be an important aspect, but I think there has to be more to it than that. In my opinion, there are at least two other factors which I think would greatly increase the odds of children remaining in church as they get older.
First, I think the church has to have a great children and youth ministry. Obviously, if the church experience is going to be fun then it’s going to encourage children to want to go. They can’t learn and maintain their faith if they just quit going, which they will do if they don’t have fun when they do go. In today’s world there are so many things competing for attention of us all, but especially teens, that we need to not only be educational and faith building but fun at the same time. I count myself lucky that I have found a wonderful church that understands how important children are to the youth and has some great youth leaders and programs to keep children interested.
Second, and maybe most importantly, is that I think children have to see how important it is to parents. Part of this goes back to the point of do parents attend church regularly. But beyond that, I think it involves getting involved in the church and it’s ministries. It’s easy to preach and talk to you children about how important faith is and how they should go and be active. It’s entirely different for the child to see your actions show how important faith is. If they see you providing your time, your effort, and your talents actively, it makes a much larger impression. As our preacher often says, faith is caught, not necessarily taught.
Because of this belief and how important it is to me that my daughter builds her faith and continues with it when she gets old enough to make her own choices, I choose to be very active in my church. And she is eager and excited to help in a lot of those areas. We prepare communion twice a month for two different campuses of our church, and she loves helping put the little cups for the juice into the trays we pass around. We set up the hospitality table for in between services once a month and she loves to help set up by placing plates, trays, etc onto the table. She sees me helping out with other areas of the church, especially the children’s programs, and we discuss why I give my time to help out. She may not be able to help out as much in some of those areas, but she is always asking for ways to help in anything we do.
Does this mean that it’s guarenteed her faith will remain strong and she will remain active? Of course not, very few things are guarenteed in life. I think it’s pretty likely however. And I can at least rest assured that I have done everything I can do to try and lead her in that direction which is all I can do. The rest is up to her and God’s will for what the direction he wants her life to go in.