Laying a Spiritual Foundation

Laying a Spiritual Foundation

by Jim Mhoon

According to the Barna Research Group, most children have established their religious and moral beliefs by the time they are 13. As parents, we should maximize this opportunity, because what we teach our children has a profound effect on their futures. When asked, most parents cite faith as a major parenting concern. Our children are eternal beings, so their relationship with God is paramount. Unfortunately, we often take a haphazard approach to passing our faith to our children. We take them to church—which is an important part of building their spiritual awareness—but do we actively and intentionally convey our faith to our children, inviting them to establish a personal relationship with God?

How do we start?

Begin by grasping teachable moments. Whether a news item, a billboard or a conversation your child had at school, daily experiences provide a chance to relate life to God’s Word. Stay alert for teaching opportunities!

Be intentional. Start with the fundamentals of the faith (see sidebar), talk about Christian character traits, contrast the Christian view of the world to that of secular society. Use child-friendly devotionals to impart the Word of God.

Speak to the heart. In all of our learning and teaching, we sometimes forget that we are emotional and spiritual beings. Many people downplay emotional experiences, yet God created that part of us in His image. Let your children feel God’s presence in their lives, and encourage them to recognize and pursue experiences with Him.

Provide opportunities and experiences. Camps, church retreats, youth groups, outings—these are important to our children. They meet other kids who share their values, and often these special events provide life-changing experiences.

Celebrate milestones. Our children reach many milestones as they grow. Celebrate them, and tie them to your child’s faith and dependence on God.
As we intentionally build a spiritual foundation for our young children, they will have the framework for a personal and vibrant relationship with God. And when such a relationship is established and strong, we will enjoy great celebration.

Jim Mhoon is program director for Focus on Your Child and father of two.

"Laying a Spiritual Foundation." From the May/June 2004 issue of Focus on the Family magazine, a publication of Focus on the Family. Copyright © 2004, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.