Are you raising a disciple? Are they equipped to leave home and stand for Christ? Are you sure?
Did you know that 80-90% of kids raised in Christian households stop going to church when they leave home? That’s right. Their so-called “Christian-upbringing” doesn’t necessarily give them a strong enough foundation to walk with God when no one was forcing them to. Why is that? What can we do about it?
I think we can find at least part of the answer in John 4 and the amazing salvation experience of the woman who met Jesus at the well.
After her life-changing experience, the woman–formerly shy and withdrawn–ran into town and told all the people about Jesus. John records that “From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all the things that I have done,'” (John 4:39).
That’s what I call secondhand faith. It comes to a person through the teaching or testimony of another. And, it’s how most kids come to faith in Jesus. They hear about Jesus through the teaching and testimony of their parents, and there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s quite natural.
But secondhand faith won’t usually sustain a kid when the pressure is really on. Not when a college professor is challenging them to defend their faith or when all their friends are partying late into the early Sunday hours and have no intention of rising to worship anything, especially God, the next day.
That’s why we as parents need to pray for a better and more profound faith experience for our kids. We need to pray for them to have a firsthand faith.
Consider the next few verses in John 4: “So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world,‘” (John 4:40-42).
Did you see the difference? The woman’s neighbors got a dramatic bump in their faith level when they spent time with Jesus. Suddenly their faith wasn’t just cerebral, it was experiential. And that made all the difference in the world for them.
A firsthand faith is when you move from what others have told you and promised you about Jesus to what you have experienced and received yourself from him. And that’s the kind of faith that will sustain a kid when facing a world that is very hostile to his or her faith.
So how do we help our kids taste and see that the Lord is good? Here are a few suggestions:
Pray for them. The best tool God has given Christian parents is prayer. Check out my book Pray Big for Your Child to learn more. Pray Ephesians 1:17 for them: that God will give them the spirit of knowledge and revelation so they will know him better. Pray they will experience the power of God’s love, forgiveness and grace.
Pray with them. Since God inhabits prayer (Matt 18:19-20), it makes sense that he will meet with us when we pray with our kids. Make a routine of praying with and over your kids–before the first day of school, before a big test, when they’re going through a difficulty and every night before they go to sleep.
Encourage them to take faith risks. Don’t protect your child from things that will challenge his or her faith. Encourage them to pray risky prayers and to believe God for big things. Our kids need to learn that God rewards faith.
Want to hear much more on this topic? Click here to listen to or watch Will’s message on it.