(The following is a summery of an article entitled “Kids Who Grow Up To Follow Jesus Have Parents Who Do These 7 Things.” Kristen Hooper alerted me to it and I think it’s excellent, especially for our young families. I hope you enjoy it).
No one has more influence in a child's life than his or her parents. Kids who grow up to follow Jesus as adults normally have parents who influenced them to do so. Throughout Scripture, we see examples of children who were influenced by their par- ents to follow God—Abraham and Isaac, Hannah and Samuel, Eunice and Timothy, etc.
The National Study of Youth and Religion backs this up as well. The study shows that parents are far and away the major influence in kids keeping their faith into their adulthood. Just 1% of teens ages 15 to 17 raised by parents who attached little importance to religion were highly religious in their mid-to-late 20s. The study compared this to children who were raised by parents who talked about faith at home, attached great importance to their beliefs and were active in their congregations. 82% of these kids grew up to be religiously active as young adults. “No other conceivable causal influence ... comes remotely close to matching the influence of parents on the religious faith and practices of youth. Parents just dominate.” (Christian Smith, Yale University)
What are some of the key things that parents do whose kids grow up to follow Jesus as adults? Let's look at 7 of them.
Kids who grow up to follow Jesus as adults have parents who prayed with them at home. They prayed with them at meal time. They prayed with them at bed- time. They prayed with them before they left for school. They prayed with them in times of crisis. They prayed with them about important decisions.
Kids who grow up to follow Jesus as adults have parents who read God's word with them at home. The Bible didn't sit on the dashboard of the car all week collecting dust or it didn't remain an unopened app. It was used during the week. Eunice and Lois, who raised Timothy, infused Scripture into his life. Look what it says about this in the New Testament. “You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).
Kids who grow up to follow Jesus as adults have parents who take them to church consistently. We live in a day when parents are taking their children to church less frequently. The average family who attends church only shows up once every three to four weeks. Sports, activities, weekend trips and the general busyness of life creeps in and crowds out many families' consistent church attendance. But this is not the case for families whose kids grow up to love Jesus. They make attending church the top priority of their weekend.
Kids who grow up to follow Jesus as adults have parents who create a place where questions are welcomed and encouraged. One of the strongest factors associated with kids keeping their faith as young adults is having parents who talk about religion and spirituality at home.
Kids who grow up to follow Jesus as adults have parents who emphasize relationship over rules. This doesn't mean they don't put boundaries and consequences in place. But what it does mean is they focus more on helping their kids fall in love with Jesus and having a personal, growing relationship with Him. As they do this, their kids begin to obey and "keep the rules" not out of fear or duty, but out of a heart of love and surrender to Jesus' will for their life.
Kids who grow up to follow Jesus as adults have parents who live authentically. Simply put. Their parents are the real deal. They practice what they preach. They live at home just like they live at church. This doesn't mean the parents are perfect. Yes, they make mistakes along the way. But when they do, they humbly admit it and seek forgiveness.
Kids who grow up to follow Jesus as adults have parents who actively serve and involve their children in serving. Research shows that kids who get involved in serving are much more likely to carry their faith into adulthood. There is some- thing about serving that activates a child's faith and increases their passion for the things of God. When a child understands that God has a purpose for their life and that they can be used of God to impact others for the kingdom, he/she engages wholeheartedly.