This morning I felt impressed to share; encouraging some and challenging others in their pursuit of raising children. On writing this let me preface this post with full acknowledgement that I have made my fair share of mistakes as a parent but one thing I have sought to actively do is encourage my boys in their faith.

Many believe that their responsibility is to provide for their children- provide food, clothing, shelter or financially and that is enough. They believe that is the extent of our responsibility. Some believe that parenting is nothing more than being the disciplinarian or on the other extreme simply being your children’s friend. This is very flawed thinking. While we have some responsibility to fulfill all of these responsibilities- none of these are the essential responsibility we have as parents.

Our single greatest responsibility is to live Jesus in front of our children and with our children! What exactly does this look like?

Some believe that is sending your kids to a church youth group once a week and whenever there is something special happening for youth. With all do respect this is just passing the buck! I agree it is important to have your kids participate in youth ministries regularly! However, if this is all you do to encourage your children in their faith you are failing as a parent! Your kids are way more likely to mirror your actions instead of listening to your words. For your kids to be active in their faith, they need to see YOU being active in your faith. This means it is not enough to send them to church- you as a mom or a dad have the responsibility to get yourself to church! Be engage in a Bible Study when your kids are attending youth. Don’t treat church attendance as secondary. People who say they can be a Christian without attending services regularly are lying to themselves and setting up their children for failure. If your goal is to make your children feel ambivalent in their faith then by all means stay home and don’t encourage your children to attend church with you. There are seven days in the week. You have six days to engage in whatever is necessary for you to make a living. When you take attending worship and say they are secondary to work, play or whatever else you deem more important you are sacrificing the faith of your children!

Hebrews 10:23-25 says it this way: 23 Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, since he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, 25 not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.

Over the years millions have died in pursuit of their faith. When you treat attending worship with other believers as secondary you are saying that all of these who have died as martyrs waisted their life. You are telling your children by your actions that their faith is not important- that work (Yes I understand some are scheduled in such a way that they have no choice but to work and I understand those situations cannot be helped in certain professions such as healthcare) or play are more important than your faith or their faith. A statement I have seen repeated over and over lately is along the lines- when you treat church as secondary your children will treat church as irrelevant. You as parents or grandparents if you are raising your grandchildren have the responsibility to model Hebrews 10 in the life of your family. By the way bringing your children to church and then letting them go run all over the building instead of participating in worship is useless. Your children should be involved in worship in the sanctuary or in an age-appropriate worship setting- not just simply hanging out somewhere.

Not only should you get your children involved in congregational worship, you should engage your children regularly at home in the discussion of scriptures, in sharing the great historical accounts of the Bible with your children and helping them interpret these scriptures. If you think you are not capable of doing this- there is a wealth of free resources out there to help you engage with your children. Do a little research and you will find these resources- many which are free or have just a small cost involved. This does not have to be some lengthy dissertation it can be as simple as 10-15 minutes an evening; but as you engage the family in this pursuit you may find yourself spending several minutes a day in these discussions- quite often brought up by your children.

Psalm 127 speaks of our children (particularly sons) as being arrows in our quiver. For an arrow to be effective it must be sharp and have the feathers in place to fly straight. Spending time in the word with your children will help sharpen them. Encouraging them in the love of Christ and exposing them to others who regularly encourage them in Christ helps to keep their fletchings in good working order so when they leave the quiver they are more likely to hit the bulls eye of life and live the life the Lord intended for them.

I plead with you do not shirk your responsibility as a parent- Raise your children to live out their faith! To be successful with this- you must practice your faith in front of them and engage with them in faith discussions on a regular basis! There is no greater responsibility we have as parents!