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I often wondered about my place and role in my child’s life. How much influence do I have? How much are they really listening to me? Are their surroundings going to overtake me and their Mother in terms of influence and importance? These are common questions for parents. And they are fair questions. After all, as the spiritual battlefield becomes more and more cluttered with children who have left the church and their faith, it’s natural to wonder when their parents lost the ability to influence, lead and direct their children. And so I am left to fear for the future of my young children.

There is hope. In fact, there is a great deal of hope for those of us who are walking through the daily challenges of raising healthy and faithful God-fearing children. In a recent survey, teens were asked to list the greatest religious influences in their life. Here are the results.

  1. Mother
  2. Father
  3. Minister/Pastor
  4. Grandparent
  5. Sunday School/Bible class
  6. Youth Group
  7. Bible camp
  8. Miscellaneous church event

 

This list is screaming out to parents. The real question is whether or not Mom and Dad are listening. This list is really nothing more than practical confirmation or proof of what God has been saying for thousands of years.

A great example of this found in the book of Deuteronomy; which is essentially akin to a parents’ last speech to their child who is about to leave home for college. The text in 6:4-9 records Moses’ last words of exhortation, encouragement and direction for his spiritual children before they leave his presence to go on to the land flowing with milk and honey—the promised land. It says,

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

 

God, through Moses, is laying the responsibility of training children in righteousness (Ephesians 6:4; Proverbs 22:6) at the feet of the parents. At this point (in the history of Israel) it seems that Moses primary concern was ensuring that the nation would thrive and prosper as they entered a new chapter in their collective lives. It is evident that Moses believed that this would happen only if the nation remained faithful to, and walked with, God. For this to happen, each generation of parents needed to teach their children that the Lord is God and that they should love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul and strength. This task was not given to the Elders or even the Priests. It was given to the parents, to be done in the context of the family and the home.

Referring back to the list of influences, it is for both inherent and practical reasons that parents hold the top spot—it is not coincidental or incidental. For Moses, this was the most important direction that he could give. These were his last words to his spiritual children. Teaching a child to honor the Lord as the only God of their life and to love the Lord their God with all of their heart, soul and strength was among the last and most important directions that Moses gave.

Just as God calls and equips those that He calls today, we should expect nothing less as parents. We are equipped with the natural and inherent influence to teach and lead our children. They are our legacy. Their souls are at stake. And it is Mom and Dad’s responsibility.

Thanks so much to Portland Wedding Photographer for sponsoring my blog!

“Houston, we have a problem.” Tom Hanks may have made the words famous, but we’re not too far off when it comes to our families in churches across the country. Perhaps unlike any other time in other time in recent history, our families are being attacked spiritually. This should really come as no surprise as 1 Peter 5:8 contends that “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” The greatest evidence of this may be seen in the faith of our children, specifically our teenagers. For example, a recent study of “churched” teens who are actively involved in a strong youth ministry program indicated that:

  • Between forty and fifty percent will significantly struggle with their faith when they leave home.
  • Eighty-six percent of these students thought that their faith was not strong enough to stand up on its own.
  • Eighty percent of the students who leave their faith intended to stick with the Church.

Statistics are a dime a dozen and can usually be made to indicate whichever bias the author prefers. These statistics are no different. That being said, the true value in these statistics lie not in the numbers themselves but in the warning shot they extend across our family ships.

Though our attitudes and actions may not always indicate such, our children are not raised in a spiritual vacuum where the Church provides all of their necessary spiritual formation (which often creates an attitude that as long as they consistently attend worship and activities, they will be fine. On the contrary, the spiritual health of our children (and families) is tied directly to the importance that we choose to place in faith in the home. The following results of a survey support such a conclusion.

  • Twelve percent of teens have a regular dialogue with their mother on faith/life issues.
  • Five percent of teens have a regular dialogue with their father on faith/life issues.
  • Nine percent of teens have experienced regular reading of the Bible and devotions in the home.
  • Twelve percent of teens have experienced (participated in) a service-oriented event with a parent as an action of faith.
  • Five percent of families have participated in any type of worship experience outside of corporate worship.

If we truly do have a problem in our families and with the spiritual formation of our children, these statistics help to offer clarity as to the source of the problem—faith and spiritual formation is simply not a priority in the home. Instead, parents are abdicating their God-given responsibilities in favor of drive through religion that is served by Youth Ministers and other church leaders. This is in direct opposition to God’s direction to the Israelites that was given by Moses in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

 

Moses told the Israelites that if they would heed his direction, “then all will go well with you, and you will have many children in the land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you” (Deut 6:3). This direction applies just as well to Christians today. We have the opportunity and obligation to create a legacy of faithful, Christ-like living for generations to come.

Thanks to the Portland Wedding Florist for hosting my blog this week!