Six Ways to Inspire Confident, Contagious Faith in Your Kids
by Melissa Cain Travis
Last year in an interview with CT, first-time Olympian and gold medalist swimmer Maya DiRado reported that when she started “questioning [her] beliefs as a teenager,” her Christian parents “were supportive.” She went on to say that “through some investigating and lots of reading and talking with mentors, I came to know and follow Christ and make my faith my own.”
According to William Wilberforce, “authentic faith cannot be inherited,” which means we have to help our kids grow into full ownership of their faith in the same way that DiRado’s parents did. As our kids grow up in a post-Christian age, we need to help them understand what we believe and also the excellent reasons we have for those beliefs.
It’s not a question of if our children’s views will be challenged, but when. My kids both encountered objections from non-Christian peers before the age of 10, and they’re both homeschooled. I’m hearing from public-schooling families that kids tend to start talking to each other about religious beliefs somewhere between third and fifth grade. How should they respond when they encounter a skeptic who thinks the Bible is a collection of legends and fables? That the exclusivity of Christianity is intolerant? That Jesus never existed? Or that modern science has disproven Christianity once and for all? (Incidentally, my nine-year-old son heard one of these from a friend less than two weeks ago.)
1 Peter 3:15 says to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Per this command from the apostle Peter, apologetics—which comes from the Greek apologia “to make a defense” —is not an optional practice but rather something we are commanded to do in a spirit of love and respect. Although apologetics is often denigrated as a blunt, antiqued tool, it can be used winsomely and powerfully to, in the words of Holly Ordway, “help us lead people to know about, follow, and love our Lord Jesus Christ.” It can also help us shore up our own beliefs and those of our children.
With that in mind, here are six suggestions for parents, Christian educators, and youth ministers on how to inspire and cultivate a confident and contagious faith in your kids and teens…
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