George Barna says in his book, Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions, “The greatest hope for the local church is raising godly children.”1 I love and believe this quote. But, as Christian parents tasked with this important task, how do we raise godly children?
We must first recognize that there is a dramatic difference between being a good person raising kids and a gospel parent raising disciples. Parenting is about positioning. I want to position my children to have the best opportunity to accept and understand the Savior who changed my life and who gives me hope and purpose. We certainly cannot force salvation on our children or regenerate their hearts ourselves. So, how do we put them in the best possible position to know Christ?
The simple reality is this: If you want your children to have a real relationship with Christ that informs every area of their life, then you must have a real relationship with Christ that informs every area of your life.
This is why, instead of offering you advice from a dad who is still parenting, I want you to consider some questions. All of these questions relate to Acts 17:28 where Paul says that, ‘“In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘“For we are indeed his offspring.’” As a child of God who has children, my greatest desire should be for my children to become children of God as well. I was given sons and daughters. I desire brothers and sisters.
8 Questions for every parent who desires to pass their faith on to their children:
- Are you convinced of the gospel?
If I were to ask your children if you believe in the gospel, what would they say? Do they know the gospel is important by the way you live? Do you live with the same standards and purpose every day, whether it is Sunday morning, Tuesday afternoon, or Saturday night?
- Are you convicted and compelled by the gospel?
Do you let your kids see the Lord working on you? It is okay to say to your children, “I’m a broken vessel, but God is doing something beautiful in my life.” If we are not a people who let the Lord convict us when we fail or who feel compelled to step out in faith when He challenges us, how are we going to ask our children to be those people?
- Are you confident in the gospel?
Do you express your anxiety and worries all the time? We cannot ask our children to put confidence in God if they never see us placing our hope and trust in Him. We must possess a resolve that says to them, “Yes, there are some unknowns in our lives right now. But I know who holds tomorrow, and I trust in Him.”
- Are you content with the gospel?
Is Jesus enough? Is the joy of the Lord in your life evident to your children? I am not speaking of false happiness. I am speaking about a joy that says, “No matter my circumstances, I am satisfied in Jesus. He is better than anything and everything else this world could ever offer.”
- Are you conscious of and consistent in the gospel?
Again, is following Jesus just a Sunday morning church thing in your life? Or is the gospel a daily reality in your life? And does it impact every area of your life on a consistent basis? Having a conscious affirmation of the gospel is important (see question) but so too is a consistent rhythm to one’s life that reflects the disciplines of following Jesus.
- Are you committed to the gospel?
Do your kids know the gospel is a priority to you? Do you let them see that following Jesus isn’t something you do just when it’s convenient and it feels good? Do they see that you believe living for Him is worth whatever the cost?
- Do you converse about the gospel?
Is it as natural for your kids to hear you talk about the Lord and your walk with Him as it is to hear you talk about your favorite team or hobby? I am not asking if you deliver Sunday school lessons at home. Do you talk with your children about the Lord, what He is doing in your life, and how faithful He has been?
- Summary: Are you consumed by the gospel?
Are you someone who says, “Christ is the most important priority in my life and following Him is what I want to do every day?” If your answer is yes, then your relationship with Christ cannot help but spill over onto and impact your children’s lives.
We cannot give our children what we do not have. We cannot teach them what we have not learned. They will not follow Jesus passionately until they see us follow Jesus passionately.
Truly, our greatest call as parents is to follow Christ in front of our children.