While taking care of my granddaughters the other day, they followed up on a task their mom had given them. They were to sort through their games and pick out the ones they wanted to keep and those they thought they had outgrown. Their outgrown stack was pretty big! As I watched, I thought about the thing we don’t want our kids to outgrow when they leave home – their faith. Lots of challenges will come against it. We want them to be rock solid. So early on we need to help them grow their own unrelenting faith and answer this question with them, Why believe the Bible?
If Kids Can’t Defend Their Faith
What happens if kids can’t defend their faith?
I had the joy of talking with missionary evangelist, Dr. Daniel King, the other day on my podcast, Rooted by the Stream. He has written a book with a companion study guide called Proof God is Real. This book can be found on his website and on Amazon.
Through the book, he equips people to defend and explain the proofs for the truth of the Christian faith. But, I asked him, “What prompted you to write this book right now?”
He said he encountered a mother after giving a talk at a small church near Kansas City, Missouri. She approached him and began to weep. Her son had “walked away” from the faith upon going to college away from home. Apparently, he encountered fellow students who were atheists and who got him involved in atheistic events. They were strong in their beliefs but he was weak and they overwhelmed him. He did not know why he believed what he did or how to defend it.
That’s what can happen to kids when they encounter the world and don’t know what to say to those who attack or mock their faith or seduce them with new, seemingly more “with it” ideas.
Believers Must Know How to Defend Faith
There is a word for knowing how to defend one’s faith. It is apologetics. Now, some may think this is just a lofty activity for scholars or preachers. No! Every believer should know how to explain and defend their Christian faith. They need to be able to answer coherently the question, “Why believe the Bible?” But, especially, parents and leaders must teach children from the time they are tiny to practice their faith and to be able to explain it.
The apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:15 NIV:
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
When people ask you and your children why you are Christians and/or why you believe the Bible, it is so important to be able to answer with solid answers. Sensing where your questioner is in their spiritual journey is also important. Knowing how to respond to them at the present moment and then how to speak more in depth to them about Jesus at the right time takes wisdom.
As you teach this to your children, above all, you have to help them anticipate what the attacks might be on their faith.
What Parents Should Teach About Faith
- Be a Positive Example. There’s an old cliché that says, “Your life may be the only Bible someone reads.” The very first defense or explanation of the faith is how you live. Is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) evident in you? Are you joyful, kind, patient, etc. in more than an ordinary way? Does the light of God radiate from you? Kids will learn and bloom into authentic Christians if they have a parent like this. And, people will know there is something different about you.
- The Practicing of the Faith. So, what produces this “light” in you, and then in your children? It is “doing the stuff” of Christianity. Teaching them to pray more than a couple of memorized words before a meal is so important. Teach children to spontaneously pray at various times and for a variety of reasons. Read age appropriate versions of the Bible from the time they are tiny. Talk to them about what the stories mean. Be a “Jesus follower” out in the “marketplace,” where they can see it in you and the way you interact. All this happens as you lean into God and let Him supply you.
- Answer their hard questions. “Mom, dad, is this really true? How do you know? Why are there mean people? Why doesn’t God stop them? I could list many, many questions. But, you get the idea. Don’t shy away from talking these things out and saying (if you need to), “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.” One of the most pressing questions for people who don’t believe is, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” It’s important to prepare answers for tough questions.
Show Them How to Respond to Pressure
- Help them learn to withstand peer pressure early on. One of the badgering statements from children can be, “Other kids get to do this.” Help them lovingly know why your family doesn’t go to certain movies or listen to certain music or dress in ways that are inappropriate. No matter how much whining you get, stay firm. You’re not the friend, but the parent who must help them grow up correctly.
- Teach them the lifelong practice of memorizing scripture. I won’t write all the Bible verses listed as responses to common objections against faith which were in a recent article by Larry Tomczak, but how useful it is to have these on the “tip of your tongue” when you need them. When a child is raised to know the Bible well and to be able to recall many verses from it, they’re equipped to withstand attack.
A wonderful resource is the website of Natasha Crain. She writes about culture, apologetics, worldview, and parenting. She has written several books, but one of them is called Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side. You will find a lot of support, resources, and wisdom from her writing.
Why You Can Trust the Bible
Defending the Christian faith is primarily done by using the Bible. The beliefs of Christianity come out of this amazing and divinely inspired book. So being able to defend the faith is built on being able to defend the Bible which explains the Christian faith. Incidentally, it remains the best-selling book of all time.
Why do so many Christians say, “The Bible is God’s inerrant word and I stake my life on it?” They may say that they know archaeology has proven the historic existence of various people and locations named in the Bible. Prophetic words have been fulfilled, particularly about Jesus, and that is another reason for their confidence. Additionally, the goodness of the teaching of the Bible; its purity and moral direction give it a beauty beyond all other writings. It has the “ring of truth,” as some say.
But, on top of this, the Bible, itself, is full of eyewitness testimony. As the Apostle Peter wrote,
“…we have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 2 Peter 1:16 NIV
and he added,
“prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:21 NIV
And Paul wrote,
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16 NIV
The Most Important Work We’ll Do
I know we’re often tempted to work at making our children happy as the main thing. If your own childhood was lonely or harsh, you want to make up for that and have a magical growing up time for your children. I speak from experience. I was a lonely girl who felt very criticized. Therefore, I wanted my kids to feel loved and to have lots of fun.
There is nothing wrong with that. The problem is, though, that we live in a harsh world, an often evil world. We encounter suffering whether self-inflicted or brought on us by others’ sins or by natural disaster. It is important to teach our kids to be strong and moral no matter what goes on around them. They’ll be able to do that if they are deeply connected to God and if they know the Word of God well.
Teach them to “build their house upon the solid rock,” as Jesus said. (Matthew 7:24) Sure, they can play hopscotch and learn to skate, but more important than anything, lead them to Christ. Equip them to hold fast to Him and defend their faith, no matter how withering the assaults they encounter may be.
That’s the greatest gift you can give them.
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