Parents serve a critical role in the transmission of faith to the next generation. Unfortunately, many parents consider their role to be that of chauffeur, transporting children and teens to church so the “professionals” can be in charge of spiritual development. As parents, however, our role is too important to the success of our child’s spiritual development for us to simply surrender the teaching of the faith to the staff at our local church. Deep inside, parents know they hold this key role, but many are scared at the thought of such responsibility. Where do I start? How do I get them to talk about spiritual matters? Do I need one of those 1,500-page theology books?
Starting conversations about spiritual matters may be an awkward process at first if your family is unaccustomed to such topics of discussion. You will find, however, that certain practices create an environment in the family where the things of God are normally considered. Here are some thoughts for engaging young people in conversations about faith in an everyday setting.
- Develop the art of conversation at home. You will find it hard to discuss spiritual matters if there is rarely any discussion at all. Even “unspiritual” activities like family game night create a general ease with conversation.
- Realize that different children have different personalities. Some young people are like happy puppies that meet you at the door. These kids can’t wait to tell you about their day, their thoughts, their problems, and their general commentary about the social ecosystem at school. Other young people are like cats. They do not meet you right away. In fact, if you try to press the issue, they will run away, but given the time and the right environment, they will come around when they are ready. The key is to be ready when they are.
- Talk freely about matters concerning God. Speak of Bible characters, Bible stories, and biblical principles as a normal part of daily living.
- Watch for opportunities to remind the family about spiritual principles. Do this in a safe, non-threatening way.
We want to share some examples of faith-talk starters but with a warning. If we deliver these without the proper environment, they will sound like “spiritual pick-up lines.” Once the tone of the family is set, here are some possible transitions…
- How has God blessed you today?
- What do you think God wants you to do in that situation?
- Where do you think God wants you to serve Him this summer?
- How can you share your faith with others?
- If you knew that one of your friends would die soon, what would you want them to know about Christ?
- How can we pray for your friends tonight at dinner?
A D6 lifestyle is not just assembling the whole family for a formal Bible study and prayer time. A D6 family creates an atmosphere where it is natural and ordinary to talk about the things of God and life as influenced by God’s sovereignty. An awkward start is better than no start—so start talking today.