The mother bird’s job was to prepare her baby for this moment.
Human parents essentially do the same thing - prepare their babies to fly the nest and take on the world for themselves. So much effort and energy are poured into this preparation process - from learning manners to getting an education to mapping out a career pathway etc. The ‘preparation for flight’ process is a lengthy and involved one. But how often as part of that process do we consider the spiritual preparation of kids? As they grow, kids are being formed in many ways, including spiritually, whether we’re aware of it or not. Given that kids today are growing up in a society where it’s going to get tougher and tougher to be a Christian, it is more important than ever to be intentional about the spiritual formation of kids. Preparing kids spiritually to be released into the world is crucial.
For many years, people considered the church to be the key player in the spiritual formation of kids. Every week, kids would gather and learn about God and how to be a follow of Jesus. This was the family routine. Times have changed though, and in the busy world where Sunday morning sport reigns and families find it harder to be at church every week, the fact is that kids are spending less time at church than the generations before them. No longer can the church be responsible for the spiritual formation of kids. Studies are also showing that the number one influence on a child’s faith is not their church, but their parents. More and more churches are now realising that in order to have influence over the spiritual formation of kids, they need to be supporting and empowering parents to be the chief faith influencers.
So, parents, as a kids pastor who cares deeply about your child’s faith development, can I encourage you to be intentional about preparing your kids spiritually? Will you consider how you can influence your child’s faith formation? The most important thing you can do to encourage your child towards a tangible relationship with Jesus is to model a tangible relationship with Jesus. Will you model what is looks like to follow Jesus? Because I guarantee you that you are their main knowledge source on the topic of following Jesus, you are modelling to them what a Christian is. This doesn’t mean that you should try to be a perfect human, or even pretend that following Jesus is all rainbows and good times. Model a real relationship with Jesus and show them what it looks like to walk with Jesus through good times and hard times.
Better yet, invite kids into those moments- show them how you pray, how you worship, how you do ‘quiet time’, how you reach out to those around you who don’t know Jesus. Allow kids to be part of those moments so they can learn how to engage in those things themselves. Allow them to see that following Jesus is an active thing, not just something we say. At Riverlife we want to support you with awesome kids and youth programs, but ultimately the greatest power of influence lies with you. Let’s not push our kids out of the nest without having invested in their spiritual formation. Let’s be intentional about shaping them spiritually so that we may see their faith fly.