Building Authentic Faith in the Next Generation
By Paul Hargreaves | Sr. Director of Family Ministries | Chapel Hill Church
In a sermon a couple of weeks ago, Pastor Mark challenged us to think about what it would take for us as a congregation to see that the next generation of kids and teenagers would become authentic followers of Jesus by the time they graduated from High School. I believe we all can agree that Chapel Hill shares the responsibility for raising the next generation of Jesus followers, but none of us more importantly than parents in the life of a child or teenager. We are all born into a community called family. But note that there are really two essential elements of family — marriage and parenthood. These two reveal God’s character like nothing else in creation. The love between a husband and wife provides a glimpse of Christ’s passionate devotion to us as His bride. In the same way, the ups and downs of parenthood offer a compelling picture of God’s tenderness and patience toward us as His children. There is such power in the community of family which reflects God’s character. Family can always provide a safe place where children can experience God’s love and learn how to love other people. Whether single or married, parents look for ways to find the power of community which experiences the love of God as a group.
As we just celebrated on Christmas, even Jesus himself was born within the context of a family. “God in the flesh” acquiesced to an earthly mom and dad to model what it means to honor parents and to benefit from their loving direction. It was within the nurturing care of His earthly family that “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52). Our children need to grow in these same ways and know that God has a special purpose for placing them within a family.
It is essential that a child or teenager’s home becomes the center of biblical teaching. Biblically, the home has always been seen as the center of faith development but there has been seasons throughout history where parents have outsourced faith development to Sunday School, youth groups and the Church in general. If we just compare the number of hours a Kid’s Worship, Middle School or High School Ministry leader has with kids or teenagers to the number of hours a parent has, it is clear. The average Church leader has an average of 40 hours per year with them where the average parent has 3000 hours per year with these precious kids and teenagers. Intentional time spent in the life of kids is crucial in faith development. They need to see authentic faith often to learn to follow Jesus themselves. To see the role of parents being the primary builders of faith can be intimidating for a lot of parents. If they don’t feel confident in their faith, then how will they teach their children? The truth here is that your own relationship with God seen by your children is a good indicator of what your child’s relationship with God can become. Keeping you and your child’s relationship built and rooted in God’s Word is the best way to keep their faith developing. Learn together, read the Bible together and discuss questions of faith together. You don’t have to have all the answers, you just have to be ready to discover the answers together. There are three ways that I believe are essential to building your child’s faith together at home:
1. Talk about God in various rhythms of each day
2. Pray together
3. Read God’s Word
Chapel Hill has an app to help you explore ways to build faith at home in the various phases of a child’s life from birth to High School: https://theparentcue.org/app. I encourage you to download it and become a part of 121 other families representing 247 kids and teenagers from Chapel Hill that are using this app. Live into the role God has given you to help build faith in the children and teenagers he has put in your life.
We have a team here at Chapel Hill that is going to begin looking for ways to inspire, equip and support parents and grandparents in raising the next generation. This team is called the Family Ministries Team. This team will be exploring ways that faith can grow in the next generation through both the biological family and the church family working together. We want to see the love of the family and the light of the church blend into a common goal of raising kids and teenagers to follow Jesus. Be looking for opportunities this team will provide for parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and others who work with kids and teenagers in building authentic faith in the next generation. We are excited for what is coming.