Tell Your Son (and Daughter)

Tell Your Son (and Daughter)
Photo by CDC / Unsplash
On that day tell your son, "I do this because of what the Lord did for me..." (Exodus 13:8a, NIV).

Parents have an incredible amount of influence on their kids. Many of us try to raise our kids to be Christians, but statistics show that most kids raised in church walk away from their faith as young adults. While the reasons for this are many and varied, Dr. Tim Kimmel points out in his book Why Christian Kids Rebel that many kids see their parents treating faith like a hobby and follow their example.

Much has been written about church programming for youth (see this excellent and challenging article by Marc Yoder). Yet, as important as church programming is (or isn't–the fundamental importance of the church is the people, not the programming), the primary responsibility to teach kids about the Lord belongs to the parents (or grandparents or legal guardians–whoever is raising the kids). We cannot hand over that responsibility and hope that their Sunday school teachers and youth leaders will do our job for us. Youth and children's programming should supplement what kids are getting at home, not replace it. It serves as a catalyst, a resource, and a conversation starter for parents. But we still have to do our job as parents, and the most crucial parental responsibility is to teach our kids about Jesus. We can't make them choose to give their lives to Christ, but we can show them what life with Christ is all about, lead them to the point of decision, and help them follow Jesus if they choose to.

I understand it's not easy. My kids are still young, so I don't pretend to know how this works with teenagers. All I can say is this: As I was having coffee with the Lord in his Word, Exodus 13:8 kept grabbing my eyes. I asked the Lord why, and two thoughts came to my mind from childhood. First, my parents' faith was genuine and important to them–not a hobby. They lived a real relationship with God in front of us, and their example is the most powerful influencer of my faith. Second, my parents never hesitated to do just what Exodus 13:8 says. They told us, "We do this because of what the Lord has done for us." They talked to us about God naturally so that conversations about the Lord became a normal part of life—not some weird, dorky, or forced thing.