Spiritual Training for Children

As Christian parents, how do we prepare ourselves to give our kids an accurate understanding of God and the kind of solid biblical teaching they're going to need later on? How can we help them "succeed" in those areas of life that matter to us most – the areas where unseen values take precedence over every other consideration?

Most Christian parents would probably agree that the spiritual training of their children is important, but they don’t feel as if they have the time, energy, or qualifications to provide it. Many let this aspect of child-rearing fall by the wayside out of mere ignorance or fear of failure. You’re wise to begin thinking about this part of your responsibility as parents as early as possible.

Spiritual training involves more than just sending your children to church. It’s basically a matter of living the principles you believe – letting biblical truths permeate your conversation and using everyday incidents to make a point or illustrate a truth from God’s Word. In other words, parental modeling is the most important piece of the puzzle. Kids need to see active faith demonstrated in their parents’ lives. No one expects you to be perfect, but your actions truly speak louder than your words. Letting your children see you read the Bible, for instance, shows them the relevance of Scripture to your life. It can also lead to some important discussions of spiritual things.

You can jump-start this kind of parent-child interaction by having regular family devotions or family nights with your kids. Be sure to keep the devotions brief and age-appropriate. Deal with issues your child might be dealing with. Family nights are a less traditional way to accomplish the same goal. These fun times with a spiritual point might feature anything from games to object lessons to watching and discussing a movie.

Regular prayer times are also important. As your children grow, make the effort to pray with them about their personal struggles. When God answers a prayer, call it to your child’s attention and thank the Lord for what He’s done. In the meantime, keep an eye out for those teachable moments that pop up during the course of everyday life – opportunities to draw spiritual lessons out of practical circumstances. They can present themselves at any time, and they don’t have to be structured. You might, for example, tell the story of Noah as you drive through the rain, or talk about the folly of revenge when you see an advertisement for a violent movie.

When this kind of foundation is being laid at home, church and youth group activities can function as supplements to boost your child’s spiritual growth. It’s important for your kids to spend time with other believers, and worship services and group outings can reinforce what your child is taught within the family. They will also provide opportunities for developing friendships with peers who share your family’s values and beliefs. Mission trips are a great way to give your child a chance to practice biblical principles while seeing first-hand how the rest of the world lives.

What if your spouse won’t take an active role in spiritually training your children? This is a problem for many couples. Don’t nag your mate about it or confront him or her in front of the kids. Do the training yourself if you have to and keep the situation in prayer. Whether you go it alone or work as a team, giving your child a strong spiritual heritage is the best way to equip them to face the challenges ahead.

If you need help applying these principles, call us. Focus on the Family has a staff of pastoral counselors available who would love to discuss your questions and concerns with you over the phone.


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Parents’ Guide to the Spiritual Growth of Children

Revolutionary Parenting: Raising Your Kids to Become Spiritual Champions

Faith Conversations for Families

Raising Kids with Christ-like Conviction

Talking As a Family About Topics of Faith

Spiritual Growth for Kids

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