Raising Faith-Filled Kids: The Foundations

The other day, I posted this picture on Instagram and described how Ruby (age 6) had delayed the school run because she 'was just writing down some things that God was telling her' (how do you get out of that one?!). After seeing this, I had a couple of people ask me how we encourage our kids in this area. I mean, everyone wants super holy kids who go about their day directly hearing from God, right?!  I'm sure we can all learn a thing or two!

So there were the beginnings of a blog post, but you know once I started thinking about it, there was actually an awful lot I could say. So I have a feeling this will be at least two posts, we'll see how we go! 



But first, some disclaimers! 

1. Honestly, I am just winging it! Sometimes, I am amazed when I look back at conversations or experiences with my kids and I just think "what in the world made me say that?!" - let's just say we're only here by the grace of God, and a lot of this is the Holy Spirit working through us as parents, as much as it is us being intentional with our children's spiritual development.
2. Remember, you're looking at my life through a social media lens! My kids are not perfect, and I am far from perfect. We are not a super holy family. We never say grace before dinner. We never maintain any sort of family devotional time. There are plenty of times that we mess up - but maybe that will fill you with some hope - even us lay people can raise our kids to know God in a real and tangible way - who knew?!
3. My eldest child is six. Beyond that, I have no clue whatsoever. I hope that some of these things are transferable if you have older kids, and I would like to think it's never too late to be intentional about these things, but I'm sure parents of older children will have some other tricks up their sleeves!
4. Every child is different. Every family is different. Every church is different. What works for me, might not work for you. But you know what? God knows! He knows exactly how to speak to your child's heart in a way that they will understand. Our role as parents, is to create opportunities, to seize them when they happen, and to set an example. (There, you don't need to read the rest now, do you?!).

Laying the foundations

Today I thought I would look at laying some foundations - because if your foundations are dodgy, then my guess is, it will probably be a lot harder to get the results you might be desiring to see. When thinking about raising your kids in a way that they will be able to experience God themselves, I think it's really important to look at your foundational beliefs. I mean, if you don't believe that God speaks to you, how can you expect your kids to believe that He might speak to them? So, today I'll start by telling you my top two foundational beliefs when it comes to raising faith-filled kids. Ready? Let's dive in:

There is no junior Holy Spirit

I have always believed that there is no junior Holy Spirit. The same Jesus that conquered the grave can live inside your two year old, as much as he can live inside of you. I know some denominations might talk about an age of understanding, or a need to wait until confirmation - I honestly have not thought too much about the theology behind it. But I know, that I know, that I know, that I personally experienced God at a young age. I have witnessed my own children experience God at the age of two or three - and I can't think of any decent reason why God would withhold Himself from children.


I do know that Jesus said "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these" (Matt 19:14). He also instructed us to become child-like in our faith (Matt 18:3-4)... so who are we to decide whether a child is ready for something? Or whether they understand? I believe that God speaks to a child at their own level of understanding, in a way that is real to them. I don't think we need to worry about them being exposed to anything that is above them or that might confuse them - God's got that covered, right?

I myself made a commitment to Jesus when I was three years old and I was baptised (full immersion) when I was six. When I was nine, I remember being prayed for to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to speak in tongues. I am absolutely sure that having that free access to Jesus, and to spiritual things, from a young age has contributed to me walking it out for the last 32 years. I was never made to feel like I wasn't old enough for Jesus, and I never want my kids to feel like that either.

Our kids can partake in everything in an age appropriate way. Ruby was two when she asked Jesus to be her friend, if she gets over her fear of water any time soon we would let her be baptised (I honestly think that's the main thing that stops her!), she can pray whatever she wants to pray, she can take communion if she wants to - we explain that we're just remembering what Jesus has done and thanking him for it, simple. She learns all of our favourite worship songs (rather than being restricted just to kid's worship)... and if you've been following on Instagram, you will have seen that this week, aged 3.5, Joel has embarked on his own journey with Jesus too!

I'm not saying that your kids will never fall away. I'm not saying I've never had tough times, or a crisis of faith - we all go through these things at one point or another. But God has always been there for me, and I think having that constant in my life has probably saved me from so much, of which I am unaware. So with all that in mind, there's literally no reason why kids should be shielded from grown-up spiritual things. Allow them to get involved to whatever level that interests them. I'm sure, however chaotic it is, it makes God smile.


Your relationship with the local church forms foundations for your child's faith

This one can be a bit of a contentious issue, and I know that everyone's experience of church will vary widely. Not everyone has a choice over where they go, or any level of influence over what happens at their church. Kid's ministries and children's provision in church can be amazing, and it can be terrible, and having young children can be a really tough season for us parents.

However, very early on in our marriage, Jon and I made a decision to make Sunday attendance at church a number one priority. If we're in our home town on a Sunday, we will be in our home church. Very rarely does anything get in the way of that. This isn't a legalistic decision or an obligation, however, it's an acknowledgement that as human beings, we don't always want to go to church, we don't always love it, it's not always easy - BUT firstly, it's not for us, it's for God. Secondly, we know that the less we go, the less we want to go, and before you know it, we're living a different life. (See: What happened when I stopped going to church). Lucy Rycroft wrote a fantastic post on this recently: Is church just another one of your family's extra-curricular activities?


So, basically our kids will always be in church. They won't be at birthday parties, or sports, or clubs, or extra curricular activities, they will be in church.

And because of that, we felt it was really important that our kids got a glimpse of an amazing kid's ministry. We were really intentional about joining a church where the kids would get the opportunity to meet with God, and to see other children who are meeting with God too. Sunday schools can be great at telling Bible stories, doing crafts and learning memory verses, but are we just building knowledge and morality rather than teaching children to live in relationship with God? (Not knocking those things - it's possible to do both!)

If you're able to influence the kid's ministry in any way, join the team, or step up to the plate and lead, then look towards building a ministry that leads the children in worship, prayer and listening out for the Holy Spirit. If they're not encouraged to do these things in church (where spiritual life is 'supposed' to take place), then why would they incorporate it into their every day?

At our church, the tots are allowed to play with toy phones so that they can 'phone God'. When a baby is dedicated, the children are asked to speak words of prophesy over that child (in advance). Is every single word an actual word from God? I don't know, I'm sure sometimes it's things like "He will be awesome at Minecraft"! But most of the time they are words of life (he will be strong, he will be kind etc.), grounded in truth, and the kids are learning that this is a natural part of life.

A couple of times a year the children 'take over' the Sunday service. They are able to speak, sing, and pray over the adults. They are encouraged to prophesy, give their testimonies, lead worship, host, welcome and serve the teas and coffees. Yes, it can be chaotic, yes it makes the grown ups a bit uncomfortable, no it's not ever perfect or neat, but we're raising a generation of kids who are comfortable using their giftings in church, who believe that they have something to offer, who believe that church is for them.

If you're doing this at church, then it lays such a good foundation for home and vise versa - both feed into each other, and both place God at the centre of family life. I know it's not possible for everyone, there are limitations where one parent isn't following God, or when families are living across different households. It's tricky when there is the added layer of additional needs, or not enough children in church to build a kid's ministry - nothing is perfect. But I would encourage you to always be supporting the kid's ministry at your church, pray for your leaders, encourage your kids to engage, ask how you can support what they're doing on a Sunday, and tell them if there's anything they can be doing to support you at home. We're all in this together!

So, there's the foundations. In Part 2 I'll go a bit deeper into the things that we do on a more personal level to encourage our kids to live a life full of faith, and I pray that you'll find it useful when relating to your own kids about the things of God. I truly believe that God doesn't want this stuff to be complicated!


Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

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