Updated: Jun 26
“Keep them in church, and keep them busy so they’ll stay out of trouble.” I grew up with a whole generation of kids who were parented by this philosophy. Parents felt that just bringing their kids to church (where their kids would have the only spiritual conversations they would have all week), and keeping them busy with activities would produce a responsible Christian adult. To be honest, that didn’t work very well.
I still see this parenting strategy today. It still doesn’t work. Actually, it works even less today. That makes sense when you think about it. Imagine your family is a basketball team and your entire strategy to “win” is to only play defense. You never go on the attack and try to score. That’s a sure strategy for failure. I don’t care if your team is made up of the best defenders in the world, eventually you are going to foul someone, they will go to the line, you will be scored on, and you will lose. Imagine how depressing that strategy would be to a team. If you’ve ever played a game of basketball, you know everyone is way more excited about scoring than they are playing defense.
Guess what, the same holds true for your children. They are way more inspired by taking the enemy’s territory than they are by trying to hold on and not be swallowed up by the world. When we only play defense, we are also sending the message that our kids need to be afraid of the world. The “big bad world” is going to swallow you up. But the Bible tells us, “Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.” Do we believe that? Then let’s parent like we believe it.
Let's expect our kids to be difference makers for the Kingdom of God. Let’s give them a role as early as we can. Let’s serve alongside them. Maybe your church will allow them to serve in a younger children’s class as a teacher’s assistant. When you are serving as a greeter, they can stand with you and hand each person the bulletin or handout for the day while you talk to people. As a family, you can intentionally serve your neighbors or adopt a family for Christmas. Your family should be a Missional family, and your kids should be a central part of that.
Let’s teach them that everything God tells believers to do pertains to them. God says, “Go and make disciples,” so how are they making disciples where they go to school and play? God says, “Go to a brother overtaken in a fault.” Does your child have someone in his life that claims to be a Christ follower but seems to be going astray? God says, “Go and seek forgiveness when you have wronged someone.” What hard conversations does your child need to have? Too often we let kids off the hook on these kinds of things because, well, they are kids.
Let’s raise kids who live out their faith, starting at an early age, and are making a difference for the Kingdom of God. When your kids are leaders for Jesus, you do not have to worry about what they are following.