First steps: Mark that faith footprint at home

Focus on the Family // January 31, 2019, 6:00 am


Photo by Fernando Pelaez Cubas on Unsplash

While dating and in early married life, couples are often able to lean on each other for support in their faith. But what happens when a child comes into the picture?

What should parents consider as they embark on their journey of parenthood and become responsible for imparting faith to their children?

We interviewed Gary Koh, a school counsellor, about his experience bringing up his son in the Lord.

1. Get started

When asked what the greatest challenge is for a parent in this regard, Koh says, simply: “We just need to start.”

He advises parents not to feel shy about getting a guide or asking someone how to begin doing family devotions. Koh began early, when his son was still very young. His family “intentionally made Sunday evenings family worship time”.

Nowadays, “there are some Sundays where we miss it, but largely, it has become a habit for us”.

While family worship time first started out as a routine, it has become one of the spiritual disciplines that the Kohs look forward to every week. 

Parents should play the primary role of modelling and teaching faith to their children.

Going by Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it,” Koh shares that it is important for the child to have a daily walk with God and not to depend on Sunday services as the only place to learn about Him. 

This is where parents play an important role. He notes: “(Our children) are only (at church) for two to three hours a week but they are with us the rest of the time.”

Parents should play the primary role of modelling and teaching faith to their children to ensure that their Christian faith goes beyond Sundays or the weekend into an everyday, 24/7 reality. 

Koh also cites events such as Christian conferences attended by believers from different denominations as a way he showed his son the bigger picture of the body of Christ. It was in one such event that his son made the personal decision to receive Christ into his life.

2. Be age appropriate

The age of the child is critical to how receptive he or she may be to the biblical principles being taught. As such, parents have to be ready to adapt their teaching style and material based on how old their child is.

Koh observes that children enjoy stories about people of faith until the age of six. Nonetheless, young as this group might be, it is important for devotion time at home to last more than 10 minutes, so as to make it more meaningful.

Parents should adapt their teaching style and material based on how old their child is.

For older children from seven to 12, Koh suggests that parents can get them involved in the planning of family devotions and maybe even to try leading devotions at home.

As they approach their teenage years and become young adults, parents can encourage their children to begin sharing and bringing the Gospel to their friends and others in their sphere of influence.

However, expect that this is also the age when children may be the least receptive to a parents’ efforts to speak into their lives. “Imparting faith to a teenager is hard as they stop depending on their parents but begin depending on God personally instead,” Koh says.

Rather than taking a directive approach and ending every conversation with their teenager with lines like “the Bible says so,” parents can instead play the role of a coach by asking questions to guide their teenagers in how to make godly decisions.

3. Pray for and with

When children are young, it is important to ensure that they understand what they are learning about the faith, as compared to simply accepting what they have been told.

“Process the highs and lows of our personal walk with God together as a family.”

“When the child is younger, they will follow without much questioning,” Koh explains. “Children begin to question as they are older. It’s therefore important to model godliness in our daily lives such that faith becomes real.

“Process the lessons, the challenges and the highs and lows of our personal walk with God together as a family.”

Pray for and pray together with your child and encourage him or her to have a personal encounter with God.

Ultimately, you and your spouse are the best people to support your children as they embark on their own journey of faith.

This was written for and first published by Focus on the Family Singapore and is republished with permission.

Nurture your child’s faith with localised resources including a family devotional guide and a spiritual development milestone planner. Email [email protected] for more information on the Faith at Home starter kit.

About the author

Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family Singapore Limited is a local charity with Institution of a Public Character (IPC) status dedicated to helping families thrive by being a voice for Family. We partner individuals and organisations to nurture families at different life stages through transformational family life education, trusted resources, content placements and counselling.