Hi, friends. This one goes out to Christian parents and Youth leaders. A lot of kids raised in church face crippling doubt once they go to college and have holes poked in their faith. I was raised in church and had a similar experience in college, though I never completely lost faith. I’ve realized recently a big factor in this is insufficient instruction during adolescence.
Last fall, I enrolled in a course called “Literary Study of the Bible” that changed my life. My professor was an expert in literary analysis and (lowkey) a devout Christian. In sixteen weeks, I read more of the Bible than I ever had, rigorously studying meanings, contexts, themes, etc.
I thought I was a lifelong Christian, but let me tell you–once I read a lot of and understood the Bible, I felt a spiritual awakening.
I realized that our youths are losing their faith upon entering a secular world because we are not equipping them with the tools to combat the hole-pokers. We take them on trips to spiritual retreats or take them to Christian concerts or make youth group fun, but that’s not enough to sustain their faith longterm. Those things are important, but they don’t substitute deep understanding.
Teach your children that God created Adam and Eve, but after Adam and Eve sinned, humanity was separated from Him by sin.
Teach your children that God chose Abraham and made his descendants His chosen people if they would trust Him and keep His commandments.
Teach your children that the tribes of Israel were named for Jacob’s sons (still descendants of Abraham), though eventually, the only two left were Judah and Israel.
Teach your children how Jacob’s son Joseph became a member of the Egyptian royal palace, but many years later, the Egyptians enslaved the Israelites.
Teach your children how Moses returned to his people, the Israelites, and helped free them; teach your children how God led them through the desert to Canaan, the promised land.
Teach your children how God brought David to rule Israel; teach your children how King David relied on God; teach them how he wrote many Psalms.
Teach your children how God sent prophets to foretell the salvation God would send the world after the falls of Judah and Israel.
Teach your children how Jesus was sent by God during Roman rule; teach your children how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies.
Teach your children that Jesus came to put the emphasis back on our love for God and others because respected religious leaders only cared about the physical rules and not the moral ones; teach your children that Jesus’ sacrifice was God’s new covenant with humanity to forgive people’s sins.
Teach your children how God spread the ministry of Jesus to the Israelites in the Gospels then Gentiles in Acts; teach your children that Jesus promised to send the disciples an advocate after He died, and that gift was the Holy Spirit, which enabled the church’s spread in Acts.
Teach your children how the covenants logically trace through the Old and New Testaments–how there’s a lot that DOESN’T contradict–the continuity may be supernatural, but there’s continuity nonetheless.
Teach your children that time and time again–Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, Paul, lots of minor players and women also–God equips highly unlikely heroes–in BOTH the Old and New Testaments. Teach your children that, from the beginning to the end, arrogance is punished while the humble are elevated. The life and ministry of Jesus embody that theme. The Israelites expected a warlord, but Jesus’ chariot was a donkey, and His mission was love.
Teach your children why a God of love and mercy was strange in the context of other ancient religions where gods were expected to toy with people for kicks. Teach your children that Christianity was and is radical, even if it’s been watered down by some modern Christians.
Teach your children that attending church or conceptually agreeing with Biblical teachings isn’t being a Christian; being a Christian means surrendering your heart to the Holy Spirit and letting it convict you to follow Jesus. Nodding along when the preacher says “Love your neighbor” isn’t being a Christian; inviting the neighbor to dinner or helping them weed-eat or listening to their problems because of that commandment is what being a Christian looks like.
Give your children’s religion a strong foundation. When your perspective is loose and vague, it’s easy to rip you apart. Whether your children stay devout or forsake religion, at least enable them to accurately explain the Christian faith from front to back so their decisions are informed.
The Word of God is the source of education.
Thanks for reading! How are you helping the children in your life understand faith?