Our kids’ faith is something we take very seriously as parents. Let’s take a look at 7 assumptions we should stop making and practical fixes.
Life is full of assumptions.
We assume the chair will hold us when we sit down.
We assume the lights will illuminate the room when we flip the switch.
We assume the other car won’t cross the yellow line.
Some assumptions are neutral and have limited impact on us when they fail, like when the light just doesn’t turn on.
But much of the time, assumptions get us into trouble. I think we can all agree that assuming a car won’t cross that yellow line is downright dangerous. We need to be alert and ready, almost assuming the worst when it comes to driving.
Likewise, assumptions about our children’s faith are just as dangerous. They are literally LIFE-THREATENING! Making these assumptions could cost our children their eternal life.
Yes, I know that sounds extreme, but it’s true. As parents, we take the salvation of our kids very seriously, and yet we also make some HUGE and very DANGEROUS assumptions.
Let’s take a look at 7 assumptions we should stop making and practical ways to combat them.
1. Don’t assume your kids believe what you believe.
I truly hope this one goes without saying, but we should start at the beginning. NEVER assume your kids believe what you believe. When a kid grows up in church and behaves somewhat compliant (or even perfectly compliant) to the rules, we often ASSUME they believe what we believe.
Sadly, we assume this without even talking about many of the issues. We assume they have heard it all and learned it all from years of preaching and teaching.
And that may be true. They may have heard it. But hearing and believing are NOT the same thing. Ask the Israelites. They had this problem in a huge way. The Bible is full of chapters where they turned away from God because they simply didn’t believe in Him.
EVERY man, woman, and child must profess Christ as Savior. And they must make this choice of their own accord. Joshua reminds us of this in his epic (and rather well-known) speech.
…Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. Joshua 24:15
2. Don’t assume your kids are saved.
This one goes along with our first one, but even deeper. Just because your 5-year-old prayed “the sinner’s prayer” doesn’t mean he/she is saved. I know that ruffles some feathers, but hear me out.
Have you ever met a person, maybe even a pastor, who talked the talk, but turned out to be living a big fat lie? I’m sure you have because it literally happens all the time.
We should NEVER assume that outward behavior is a reflection of heart belief. People do things with WRONG motives just as often as they do them with right motives. And the biggest lie is thinking that doing the right things on the outside is a clear indication that someone is “saved.”
I think the Pharisees fell into this trap. They had grown up in the faith. They knew (and kept) the rules/traditions. And yet they were hopelessly lost.
“It is the relationship to Christ that saves, not the prayer that signifies the beginning of the relationship.” J.D. Greear, Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart
Faith is a present tense verb. It’s not an event or a ceremony. This means as parents, we shouldn’t be resting in hearing our kids pray a prayer. Instead, we need to daily be encouraging and equipping them to continue growing in relationship with Christ.
That’s the sanctification part of being a Christian. We daily take up our cross and follow Jesus, little by little breaking those bad habits and fighting the temptation to sin.
As a parent, you are on this journey too. Don’t expect perfection out of your kids unless you want God to expect perfection out of you. Instead, keep teaching and talking in literally EVERY moment you can (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).
3. Don’t assume your kids understand just because they don’t ask questions.
The one thing I hate the most about modern education is its continual push to standardize all people. People are not standard. God made each of us unique, which means our personalities are as different as our fingerprints!
Some kids ask a LOT of questions. Some stuff it all inside and wonder. Some find the answers outside of what they are being taught at home. And yes, some do all three of these!
When you have conversations with your kids, give them time to ask questions. Bring it up again later and ask them if they have questions.
If you want to know if your children are “getting it,” try these:
- Have them tell YOU what they believe about something.
- Have them define a difficult term or concept of faith.
- Give them the chance to defend their position (regardless of whether or not you agree with it).
It’s amazing what you will learn about your kids if you take the time to do those three simple things.
4. Don’t assume your kids understand WHY.
This is probably the one I think most Christian parents are guilty of. I sure have been–multiple times. (One big one was that time when I totally forgot to tell my kids God’s design for marriage.)
We get tired of the “whys” and constant questions our kids throw at us. We see “why” as an attack on our authority–and sometimes it is! But much of the time, it’s a desire to understand.
All humans have this desire. If we can understand WHY something is happening or WHY someone chose a particular option, we will often see the situation completely differently.
So ignore those parenting “experts” who told you that you don’t owe your kids an explanation. You do! Not because they need it in order to agree to obey; because they need it in order to get behind the rules and take ownership of them when no one is looking.
This deep need to understand why has been a big part of my own spiritual growth. Make it the foundation for your kids too. Ownership comes from understanding. NOT from mandates.
Here are some of the WHYS your kids need to talk about:
- What do we believe about creation/evolution?
- What do we believe about purity and modesty?
- Why do we use media filters and/or set limitations?
- Why should we pick a godly spouse?
- What is the Christian response to social injustice?
- Why is abortion wrong?
- Why do we have a curfew?
- Why are drinking and drugs taboo?
That might seem like a long list, but it’s just the tiniest tip of the iceberg! There are so many things our kids need to know. Remember, we aren’t training little robots who obey with no thought. We want kids who believe rules are vital to their safety and DESIRE to obey them!
If you would like help talking about some of these BIG WHYS that we often forget, check out this Bible study: Foundations of Faith. It’s designed to do exactly that!
5. Don’t assume your kids have the foundation they need to stand strong.
When I was a kid, there were many people in our town who stood on the street corners with signs claiming that Jesus was coming back very soon. Many predicted the year 2000.
Since it’s 2021, I’d say those people were off just a bit. Actually, the Bible makes it clear that NO ONE can predict when Jesus will come back. But one thing we do know–that time is near.
Seems like such an oxymoron. We don’t know when, but we know it’s near? What does near mean?
I have no idea. Thankfully, it doesn’t really matter. God is in control of all of that and He hasn’t asked me to figure out the timing. But He did ask me (and you) to do something while we wait: prepare!
He told us that we will be persecuted. He told us Christians would suffer. He told us to spend our days sharing the gospel.
So whether it’s 5 minutes or 500 more years, we know one thing for sure as parents: We have the job of preparing our kids to stand strong in the faith.
I think 2020 and all of its crazy politics, pandemics, and other disasters should serve as a stern warning to us as Christians that the TIME IS NOW! We’ve got to prepare our kids to stand firm in the faith. We’ve got to give them a 3-layer foundation:
- WHAT I believe (God’s truths)
- WHY I believe (God’s promises)
- HOW it matters (What it looks like in my life)
As the old song goes, the only way to withstand the floods and storms of life is to build your house on the ROCK (Matthew 7:24-27)! This 3-layer foundation is the only way our kids will be able to fight the ever-present false teaching that fills our culture and the wicked agenda of our enemy that seeks to destroy them.
No other foundation will be enough.
6. Don’t assume your kids know how to pick a church.
I had to throw this one in here because it was the single most significant factor that led to my own journey of walking away from the church as a teen. I had every intention of going to church in college, but the college chapel wasn’t quite what I was used to and my roommate wasn’t interested in church.
I think we went to a few area churches, but it ended quickly. I spent those 4 years living my best not-so-Christian-girl life and didn’t get back to church until I was in my mid 20’s.
Oh how I wish someone had sat down with me and said, “Hey, here is how you pick a church and here is how you get plugged in.”
I beg you not to miss this conversation with your kids.
Because of COVID, there were many people who left our church. Some went to smaller churches that were open. Some went to churches that had a more relaxed policy of social distancing. It was a royal mess. And honestly, I’m sure many churches went through that.
My youngest son lost all of his friends to other churches. As sad as that was, it gave us an excellent chance to talk about WHY we choose one church over another, what the important things about church really are, and how to support your church with involvement.
“Here’s another alarming statistic: only 20 percent of college students who leave the faith planned to do so during high school. The remaining 80 percent intended to stick with their faith but didn’t.” Kara E. Powell, Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids
We’ve made this one of ten key topics in our family study called Foundations of Faith.
7. Don’t assume your words will be enough.
I saved this one for last because it’s perhaps the hardest one for us parents to swallow. Perhaps you read the other points in the post and thought to yourself, “Yes, teach…talk…this is my most important job.”
Well, I hate to be the one to burst that bubble, but extensive research indicates otherwise.
“How you express and live out your faith may have a greater impact on your son or daughter than anything else.” Kara E. Powell, Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids
This isn’t to say that teaching and talking are useless! Quite the contrary. The Bible makes it clear that it’s our job.
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9
Read over this passage again. Do you really think it’s only about talking? I would challenge you to think deeper. Yes, we should totally talk about God as much as humanly possible. But at the same time, we should be living out the things we are talking about.
That’s what this verse really means. It’s talking about integrating your faith so deeply into every facet of your life that the two are unable to be pulled apart.
When we tell our kids that obedience is how they love God, we had better be obeying Him ourselves.
When we tell them to love and read the Bible, we had better be getting up early to spend time in it too.
Remember earlier in this post when we said FAITH is a present tense verb? It’s something we live out. It’s not just a lecture we bestow upon our kids.
Kids are watching every move we make and it’s shaping what they believe about God.
Now that doesn’t mean we have to be perfect! In fact, if we try and look perfect, that will do more damage than anything else. We need to be real about our struggles, failures, and inabilities. We need to help our kids see repentance, forgiveness, and grace.
“Your children need God’s law, but you cannot ask the law to do what only grace can accomplish.” Paul David Tripp, Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family
By the way, if you haven’t read the book that I quoted above or you struggle to understand how the Gospel fits into parenting, I strongly urge you to read it. It’s the BEST PARENTING BOOK I’ve ever read. It will change you and your entire family.
Final thoughts about faith and kids
Raising children is the BIGGEST, most important job you’ll ever have. I pray that you would never be found guilty of slacking off, but I want you to REST in this truth —>God always equips those He calls.
You will fail. You won’t be strong enough. But that’s perfectly fine because God gives you the strength, the wisdom, and the tools you need to parent. You simply need to ask for them in faith!
This post is chock-full of ideas and resources, but I realize that sometimes it doesn’t feel like enough. I would highly encourage you to be intentional about discussing these things as a family. That’s why I wrote Foundations of Faith.
In the study, you’ll lay a foundation for your faith, straight from the Bible, reviewing topics like salvation, discernment, and godly living. Next up, you’ll dig in and discuss 10 crucial topics as a family.
I’ll give you a list of Bible verses, questions to ponder, and resources for further study. YOU SUPPLY the statement of faith as you record your thoughts and ideas together as a family. Get started today!
Through practical tools & Bible-based resources, Kim Sorgius is dedicated to helping your family GROW in faith so you can be Not Consumed by life’s struggles. Author of popular kid’s devotional Bible studies and practical homeschooling tools, Kim has a master’s degree in education and curriculum design coupled with over 2 decades of experience working with kids and teens. Above all, her most treasured job is mother and homeschool teacher of four amazing kiddos.