How to raise your children to own their faith in Christ. Implementing 6 effective strategies to foster a faith they won't desert after leaving home.

How to raise your children to own their faith

Ruthie Rearing 18 Comments

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Have you ever wondered why kids raised in Christian homes stray from God?

The pattern goes something like this:

We raise them in church

We send them to Christian school

We remain heavily involved in church ministries

They grow up and leave home

They join the college party scene

They begin to experiment with drugs, sex, and alcohol

They announce they don’t love God

Parents wonder where they went wrong

I know you don’t want this for your child, and I don’t want it for mine.  So how do we raise our children to own their own faith?  How do we get them to love God on their own?


How to raise your children to own their faith in Christ. Implementing 6 effective strategies to foster a faith they won't desert after leaving home.

1.  Model a love for God and others

Do your kids see you reading the Word?  Do they know you have a prayer life?  Do you talk about the Lord and honor Him with your speech?

Do you show love towards your neighbors, friends, and grandparents?  Are you compassionate, seeking to help by delivering a meal, sitting with a sick friend, or simply walking the neighbor’s mail over?

You can take your kids to church 25 times a week and still not model love.

Spend time with the Lord, make it a priority, keep yourself accountable to other believers, and seek spiritual growth.

Kids pick up more on what you don’t say than what you do.


2.  Ditch the legalism

It goes like this:  if I have perfect church attendance, teach Sunday School, and never miss a Wednesday night service but I:

>don’t show compassion to my first-grader when she’s worn out with a cold and still drag her to church

>jump onto my middle-school aged son for not taking the dog out and shame him in front of his friends

>scream at my teenager and tell her she needs to read her Bible more


I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.


If we place emphasis on going, doing, and keeping up with the rest of the church rat-race, we lose our kids in the process.

Faith in Christ is not about rules.  Jesus said the two greatest commandments are to love God and love others.

Not love church and love our church image.

Our kids see right through us when we become so busy that we have no time for the stuff of life that matters. Stuff like sprawling across our kid’s beds at night and listening to them vent, entering into a giggling hopscotch game, or enjoying the front porch swing together.

We must love our kids  more than we love what others expect of us.  It’s just that simple.


3.  Provide opportunities for spiritual growth

Of course I am not saying we don’t go to church.  They need to be part of a church that teaches the Word and reaches out in ministry.

They need to hear the Word read in church and at home around the kitchen table.

I used to go to the local Christian book store and pick out devotional books for my kids.  Sometimes I’d use them in Easter baskets or for Christmas gifts, but more often it was a “just because” gift, which they loved. Knowing they could write in their devotional journals caused them to look forward to quiet time in the Word. These journals were written on their level so they could relate to the Scriptures.

This made a huge impact on my own kids and I feel it’s partly the reason they they still practice personal devotions.


4.  Minister as a family

When my kids were in grades 1-8, I pulled them out of school in order to home school and slow down the rat race.  We began ministering in churches with songs and instruments.  We had a violinist, flutist, guitarist, and pianist.  The kids performed a puppet show, and our son wowed the crowed with an object lesson/magic trick.

As we ministered together, we grew in the Lord as a family unit.  We had a blast, and they got used to ministering in public.

Maybe your kid just started clarinet lessons.  Ask your music director if she can play a little song for church.  If your child plays drums, find out if he can rotate in the church band.  If there’s a local Christian coffee shop, take your kid to play the guitar.

Kids learn valuable lessons by being involved in ministry.  They learn to give back and not just sit and take in.

And when they grow up, they readily minister of their own volition.  It’s a beautiful thing.

My son is a worship leader in his church.  He participates regularly with their outreach program.  Our daughter traveled with a college music group, singing and ministering to troubled teens all across the eastern US.  My other two work with our youth group at church and minister personally with the girls outside of church as well.

When we minister as a family both in and out of church, our kids become aware of needs and the focus shifts to others and off of self.


5.  Keep open communication

The best thing we can ever do to grow our child’s faith is to listen, letting them express emotions and thoughts. Don’t jump down their throats when they express overwhelmed or angry feelings.  Be a safe place for them to run to when they need to talk – or they will not talk.

Laugh with your kids every day.  Find humor in the mundane.  Watch funny shows together on tv, laugh at your blunders, tell knock-knock jokes, hide behind doors and scare them silly.

Lie on a blanket underneath the stars and talk about life and pointless things.  Keep it light or allow it to get heavy – follow the direction of your kid – hang out without a plan.  Let them steer the  conversation and don’t make it about your agenda.


6.  Discipline consistently

Children need boundaries to know they’re loved.  And boundaries reflect God’s relationship with us.

If we parents take the time to consistently discipline our children, establish set rules and make sure our kids understand  them, we parallel God’s shepherding of us.

As believers in Christ, we must reflect our Father and represent Him well, and that means walking in righteousness.  The Bible says that those whom the Lord loves, He disciplines.

I know you love your kids.  Discipline is tough, painful (for both parties), and just plain hard work.  But doing this teaches them respect for you and for God’s Word.


A final word

All children are born with a will.  It is our job to nurture them in the admonition of the Lord, to diligently pray, and to grow in our own faith as well.  This is no guarantee that they will not rebel or stray from what you’ve taught once they get out on their own.  But if you put these strategies into practice you will keep the lines of communication open and be well on your way to witnessing their return to faith.

These are the practices my husband and I implemented, and, by God’s grace, my four children own their faith today.  They are not perfect, and I do not agree with everything they do.  But neither am I, and I’m so glad God hasn’t given up on me!

What would you add to this list?  Answer in the comments below the link up!



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My oldest daughter is just like me – compassionate to a fault, nurturing and motherly, servant-hearted, self-starter, music loving, go-getter, tomboy who loves worms and ladybugs, not to mention dingy, space cadet, and stubborn.  And while all those things are wonderful qualities, sometimes they drive me absolutely insane.  Why?  Because I see them in myself and don’t always like it.

~Annette from In all You Do – 5 Ways to parent your Mini-Me


As I traveled from person to person, thing to thing, place to place, I reached out my hand that contained my empty cup. I did not know how it was going to be filled. Maybe, with reinforcements or positive affirmations. Maybe, it would be filled with attention or promises of love. Sometimes at the risks of having it full, I would even allow it to be filled with the lies and dreams of a future or better tomorrow. {Giveaway for a signed copy of Peace for a Lifetime by Lisa Murray}

Jaime from Seeking God with Jaime Wiebel, More, Please?


Eating out with a toddler can be a challenge. I have gone through my fair share of stress with toddler meltdowns at the dinner table requiring me to leave the table to take my son outside or to the restroom to calm him down. I’ve also had to completely abort the idea of dining out given my toddler’s mood. I’ve learned from my mistakes and have adjusted what I do in order to make the experience enjoyable for everyone involved, including the other patrons of the restaurant.

Lissette from Adventures with a Silly Boy on Eating out with a toddler and staying sane


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Comments 18

  1. Ruthie, I so appreciate your wisdom here, especially what you say about ministering together with your kids. I had the privilege of leading worship twice monthly with my kids for 2 years, a priceless experience. Last week my daughter worked in homeless shelters in New York City. Church mission trip. It was so exciting to hear the kids’ testimonies of sharing their faith! A 15 year old shared about praying for who would sit in the seat next to her on the plane ride up since she knew she’d have 2 hours next to this person. And God did a miracle by putting the same Muslim girl she’d already shared with at the airport in the seat next to her. Just kids, but the paths they walk now matter.

    Thanks so much for your encouragement. You’re a few years down the road in experience. (You got an earlier start, Girl! I was 33 when I had Guitar Man!)

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      It is priceless when you’re serving alongside them, sharing a smile, an understanding of sorts, the rhythm of music and enjoyment of the ministry! God can use our kids if we teach them to be aware. He can use anyone, no matter the age.

      And yes – I started my family at age 24 and had the last by 31! πŸ™‚

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      I did indirectly under number one – model a love for God and others – but it does need to be a definite, regular request! If it is uppermost in our prayers, it will be uppermost in our thoughts and actions.

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      It’s so easy to get caught up in what others expect of us and our “spiritual” image instead of remembering our MOST important ministry right underneath our noses! Thanks for reading, Val. πŸ™‚

  2. Ruthie,
    Thank you so much for the feature this week! I am happy to be connecting with you for Tuesday Talk and at MTO. I have appreciated the little bits of information on my facebook feed. Happy to be connecting with you and I am going to have to pin this post. I feel like I am still in somewhat of a beginner stage with kids when I read these tips. In the early years which seem so crucial for setting the stage. Thank you for being a momma willing to share your wisdom on a godly platform.

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      I was so happy to see your lovely face joining us in MTO! The early years are crucial yet God puts people in our paths to lead us at just the right time, and He takes up where we leave off or feel extremely weak. Please be sure to introduce yourself in MTO and let us know a bit about your family and any needs concerning your frustrations! You’re welcome for the feature, I enjoyed your post as well. See you soon! πŸ™‚

  3. I’ve seen this pattern of college-age kids leaving the church. These points you make are great!
    The way we live our lives leaves a much greater impression on our children than consistent church attendance or legalistic approaches to spiritual things. I agree that it is critical that we live in a way that imparts our faith (modeling love, serving as a family…all these things you mentioned).
    Sometimes we mess up (or at least I do!) and I think it goes a long way with our kids if we are humble enough to admit to them that we are not perfect and to model asking for forgiveness.

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      Yes, Shannon, and we can live out our faith in everything we do – from folding laundry to tickling kids to wiping snotty noses. We need to be Jesus with skin on – and YES – ask forgiveness when we blow it! Good point, gal!

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          Shannon, thank you so much for sharing! I really respect what you have to say every time I read your blog. You have deep, wise insights and I know others respect your words as well. I appreciate you and will be sharing this!

  4. I really appreciate your point about getting children involved in ministry from a young age. Even the youngest kiddos can make cards for sick friends and do other simple projects. For teens, the options are endless! Ministering together builds family unity. Thanks for visiting my blog!

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      It really makes a joyful impact on the whole family when we bond together in ministry! Those are priceless memories. And yes – even down to the littlest! Thanks for stopping by to read and comment! πŸ™‚

  5. Sadly- all these points do not necessarily mean a child will continue to follow the Lord. With all my heart I tried to bring the Lord in to each part of our lives, and live and love openly and honestly before my children. My heart is aching right now. And I’m struggling.

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      You are so right, Elizabeth! There is no magic formula, only Scriptural and life guidelines. Each child has a will of his or her own, and we can’t make their minds up for them, or that wouldn’t be called “faith”. I’m so sorry you are struggling, and I’ve written your name in my prayer journal. I’ve prayed for you several times since reading your comment, I have many mama friends who are in the same heartache as you. I was too at one point. They all have to come to a point where they own it, and the hard part is waiting for that to happen.

      Thank you for sharing your heart, friend. Mine is aching for you.

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