You teach your children how to brush their teeth, drive a car, stick to a schedule, and read their Bible. But do you train your children, whether elementary or high school aged, to be students of sound theology and solid in their application of Christian apologetics? To show you why this is so crucial, I want to provide a quick overview of how the average Christian kid spends the time allotted in any given week. The following statistics can be found on CARM.org (Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry), which breaks the 168 hours (24 hours per day x 7 days) found in one week down into the following increments. Please recognize this is simply when discussing the “average Christian kid” and not necessarily your particular kid.
- 63 hours: Sleeping (9 hours per day x 7 days per week)
- 56 hours: Time at School (8 hours per day x 7 days per week)
- 12 hours: Extracurricular Activities (Homework, Sports, etc.,) (2 hours per day x 6 days per week)
- 21 hours: Entertainment (TV, video games) (3 hours per day x 7 days per week)
- 2-3 hours: Church Activities
It takes but a mere glance to recognize and then admit our kids are pulled in dozens of directions, and only one of those directions is church-related. And lest we forget, church should never and can never be looked as the place to replace the role of you, the parent, being the primary teacher for your children. When you look at the details above, it is easy to see how little room there is for family bonding or time purposefully set aside for training our children to go deeper with their faith formation. As with all parenting related details, we must meet our children where they are, get involved in their daily activities, and make the most of every moment, seeing them all as an opportunity to seize the time God has so graciously given us with our kids.
And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)
We must be intentional about teaching our children that a complete love for God goes beyond an emotional response and involves knowing Him on an intellectual level, as well. Paul says we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), and since God desires for us to submit our every thought to Him, what we think in our minds is linked to what we feel with our hearts. It’s a beautiful dance where the mind and heart move together in a seamless melody. And while it may sound “heavy,” there is no need to fear the word “apologetics,” because it is simply a defense of the faith. And when it involves our children, we can help them feel more secure in defending their own faith (apologetics) when they are not with us—which is the majority of the time. No one sends an unarmed man onto the front lines of the battlefield, and neither should a Christian parent send an unprepared child into his or her own battlefields—or be apathetic in thinking the places they go are not battlefields. Take a look at a few common sources of faith confusion young people encounter.
But in your hearts, honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. (1 Peter 3:15)
Friends. I do not simply mean “bad influences,” but those who come from different faith backgrounds or those with parents who live life on a very different plane than what you consider kosher. While you help steer your kids to form friendships that honor God, you must also prepare them so that even in their friendships, they are able to stand firm in their faith. They must know why they believe what they believe, so they can be a light to those placed in their paths and possibly teach the truth to others.
School. Do you believe in a creator God who made the universe? Do your kids know why you believe this, and can they make a defense for that belief? Do you believe God created men and women and that those are the only two genders? When you send your kids to school, do not send them hoping for the best. Send them prepared for teachings they will inevitably encounter that are different than those of the Bible. Truly help them to love the Lord with all their mind.
Media. From movies to TV shows and the internet, your kids will see things that they would not in a “Leave it to Beaver” world. Newsflash: we do not live in a “Leave it to Beaver” world, and your kids are bombarded with messages that run completely contrary to the teachings of Christ. Do your kids understand why sex before marriage is not God’s standard? Do they get a shiver down their spine when the Lord’s name is flippantly tossed about by their favorite actors? What about when they hear a song talking about one night stands? Take hold of these times to talk to them about what they are thinking—get those wheels spinning to keep their minds sharp.
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” A.W. Tozer
If you long to shepherd your children and bring glory to His name with your life, do not be a dictator—be a disciple focused on making disciples of those future adults temporarily under your roof. You want your children to question things—it means they are growing—and you want your children to come to you with those questions. So remain a student yourself, studying Scripture and always applying the Word of God so you are loving Him with all your mind—equipped as a ready and able teacher for those younger in the faith. How wonderful it is when someone can hear something that tickles the ears but recognizes it as false. How wonderful would it be if we could count our children among those someones?
Gabbie Nolen-Fratantoni loves Jesus and is passionate about serving him through the arts by leading worship and writing for various ministries. She is married to Greg, her hard-working, iron-sharpening-iron spouse. They are opposite in personality but equal in dedication to their marriage and family. Gabbie and Greg are the proud and sleep-deprived parents of two active, sweet, and fun boys and one gentle, joy-filled, little girl. An Aggie and graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Gabbie is a small-town country girl trapped in the city. She loves getting to know people and encouraging them as they seek to know Jesus and make him known.
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