Back to school is filled with lots of emotions as well as it own set of challenges. There are logistical, financial, and emotional challenges that come with sending our kids back to school. Whether it is sending them off to college or getting them ready for Kindergarten, we all have shopping lists of must haves: school clothes, school supplies, backpacks, shoes, and so much more. We are filled with emotions as we see our kids reach new milestones, move to new schools, and continue to grow in personality and character.
We invest in our kids education, hoping they’ll be happy and healthy. We hope they’ll be compassionate and independent. We hope they will grow up to be Razorback fans.
We believe the same thing about our children's spiritual formation. We believe the time, energy, and money invested in our kids’ faith development will make a difference, too. It's why we attend worship, bring them to Sunday School and Faith C.R.E.W., and participate in mission opportunities. All of these faithful practices are opportunities to learn the ways and values of Jesus. We hope they grow up to love and follow Jesus.
I venture to guess you all would say the same.
With the number of people young people attending church in America continuing to decline, as a parent I’m thankful there’s research being done on what helps kids stick with faith into adulthood. Several years ago, Kenda Creasy Dean, a pastor and professor at Princeton, spoke at the church I was serving. She shared some things we as parents, grandparents, and the faith communities could do to influence the faith development of children:
- Parents' and grandparents' influence is crucial for a sticky faith. Our children are watching what we say and what we do. So ...
- Invest in practices that grow our own faith — regular worship, prayer, Bible study, etc. They are more likely to practice their faith.
- Share what you love — if you would tell someone about a movie or book you loved, why not also share your love for God?
- Share your own faith story. Why are you a follower of Jesus? Have you shared why with kids, grandkids, other people?
- Speak Christian at home. (It isn’t enough to talk about Jesus with each other, but more important is how we tie our conversation to themes of the Christian life.)
- A Bland Faith doesn’t stick, so do radical things like Jesus.
- Model a radical hospitality
- Do a radical act of mercy, a radical act of prayer, or a radical act of grace
- Do a radical act of giving sacrificially — but be sure to explain to your kids that you are doing this because you follow Jesus.
As a new school year begins, I encourage all of us to consider how we will invest in our children’s education and in their spiritual formation. How will each of us put our faith in action: encouraging and uplifting children, youth, and families? It begins with making a daily commitment to share our faith. Will it take time? Yes. Will it at times conflict with other commitments? Yes. Do I believe it is worth it? 100%!
This Sunday, we will have our annual backpack blessing and we continue our series Tools for Life. Take a look at Philippians 2 and join us for worship as we celebrate life together. I'll see you in worship!