I love the ability to partner with others in raising our children. This is what the village is really all about. As parents we have to be intentional about surrounding ourselves and our children with the right influencers. Those who affirm our values and can broaden our children’s horizons. One critical member of our family’s village is our local church. This past week our children’s ministry kicked off a theme for January called, Training Camp. It’s all about helping kids to develop the daily habit of exploring their faith and building a relationship with God.
As an adult believer whose faith has transitioned from a child-like faith of simply accepting what I was told, to truly interrogating why I believe what I believe, I know that this is a critical part of growing up. Most people who wander from their childhood faith do so because as they grow, their ability to explore their faith doesn’t grow with them. Like many young black kids, I grew up in the church. It was a consistent part of my family’s life for as long as I can remember. Yet, simply growing up in the church and understanding what you believe and why you believe it are two different things. I can remember as a 10 year old kid, taking my father’s old bibles and spending hours in my bedroom simply reading and trying to understand what it meant. I had a lot of questions, but very few answers. The point is that I was trying to explore my faith on my own terms and it would take years before I finally found a group of mentors and peers who would join me on the same journey.
Now as a parent myself, I recognize this critical juncture that my kids are approaching. For the oldest two (7 and 5), they’re asking a lot of good questions about life and why stuff happens. Questions that can’t simply be answered with trite responses like, “because the bible says so.” Our kids are looking for dialogue about faith, not necessarily all the answers. If we’re honest as parents, we don’t really know all the answers and that’s ok. We know enough to lay a foundation of belief, and then from there it’s about inviting our children on the same journey of exploration that we’re on. The trick is knowing the right timing for your specific child. We knew our oldest was ready to start actively exploring her faith when she approached us with questions about who God is and why we believe what we believe.
There are a lot of useful tools out there (children’s bibles, etc), but I’ll just speak to one habit that we’ve built recently that might help. I mentioned earlier that we’re partnering with our church to help kids develop the daily habit of spending time with God. They received a little notebook with a brief scripture and then a prompt to think about it, and then take some kind of action. Each day over a meal we’ve discussed thus far their daily scripture, and then thought about it together as a family as they determined what action they’ll take. Yesterday we discussed fear, and the memory verse was God’s admonition to Joshua to be not afraid, for I am with you. Then the oldest two girls wrote down something that they’re afraid of (both said thunderstorms, and Riley got a little more personal and added being on stage something we all knew). Then we reminded ourselves that even if we’re afraid, God is with us and that was it.
We’ll revisit it this morning before they head off to school, but that simple habit of connecting life to scripture will lay the foundation for their faith growing as they grow. Let’s face it, being a parent is a lot of work and the real challenge is laying the right foundation now that will serve them well into the future. As you think about your foundation, consider thinking of simple habits you can build to help your kids also grow their faith.