According to The Fuller Youth Institute, there are five things we believe every student who has begun their faith in Jesus needs to have in their teenage years to help their faith stick with them after high school. These five things are how we prioritize what we do.
The reality is, YOU (THIER PARENT), have the biggest role to play in making sure these five things are built into your kids life. We only see your kid for a few hours every week, but the work you’re putting into their lives is making the biggest impact.
So here are the five things that we believe every student needs in their life to help their faith in Jesus stick…
American psychologist, Christian Smith, has said that “when it comes to kid’s faith, parents get what they are.” In reality, parents get what their kids think they are. Your child will mainly mirror your faith. Other adults have influence as well, but your teenagers are mirroring what they see you doing, believing, behaving, and valuing. So it is important that you
- Show your kids your faith
- Figure out what YOUR best spiritual practices are (silence, worship, service, sharing Jesus, memorizing verses, etc.)
- Show yourself and your kids grace.
It isn’t doubt that is toxic to kids faith, SILENCE is. It is important that you engage your kids questions, no matter how uncomfortable or difficult they are for you to answer. One of the best four words you can ever say to you child when they ask you difficult questions is “I don’t know, but…”
- I don’t know but… we can figure it out together
- I don’t know but… I will explore that and get back to you
- I don’t know but… I know that God is bigger than any question we have
- I don’t know but… let me share how I have approached things
As important as asking questions are, what is more important is parents sharing their experiences. Sharing your spiritual journey is so important.
Family warmth is the most important correlating factor to your kid’s faith sticking than anything else. What matters most is not how close you feel to your child, but how close your child feels to you.
- First connect with your kid before you correct them
- Understand that your relationship with them means influence. Pursue the relationship, and you will have more influence.
- Don’t just say I love you… but say I like you
- Model saying “I’m sorry”
Time spent finding and fueling your kids “sparks” (things and activities that bring them joy) can create trust, meaning, and joy in your relationship. It isn’t quantity of time spent with your kids, but quality time. Some ideas…
- Spend dinners eating together
- Try family game nights
- Play games your kids want to play
- Have two check in’s each day after school, one for 5 minutes when they get home and then another for 25 minutes later in the evening.
Out of 13 youth group participation variables studied by The Fuller Youth Institute, the number one variable to helping faith stick (besides the relationship they had with their parents) was intergenerational relationships built through their church. Every child should have 5 adults in their life who are “for them.”
- Get connected at Harbor Covenant as best you can and allow other adults you trust to get to know your kids.
- Make Sunday morning a time for your kids to connect with other adults you trust
- Take the initiative and ask other adults you trust to check in with your kids.