#3 Connect with a community of faith.
"And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." Hebrews 10:25 (NLT)
You need relationships to raise kids that love God. John 13:35 says that they will know you are my disciples by your love for one another. Your children need to see your faith in action with other people. They need to see you reaching out and serving people.
We have always had ministry students stay with us or hosted people in our home. Since I moved a lot when I was growing up and had to constantly adjust to new people, I wanted to raise kids that were comfortable in any social situation. Our church is multi-generational and encourages mentoring type relationships.
Our teenage sons had a great conversation with one of our friends who is in her 50s. She said she enjoyed talking to our sons. They can talk to adults without any fear or intimidation. I believe being in a community of faith with different generations and ethnic groups is essential for success in life.
#4 Talk about your faith.
"And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up." Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (NLT)
Your children need to hear your "war" stories. I've told my children about how God provided when I was in college with no financial support from my parents. They have heard the stories of how my husband slept in a lawn chair in an apartment with no furniture when he was helping to start a church.
Everyday, I tell them nuggets of what I'm learning from the Bible. The Bible is a living, active force in our daily lives, not just a bunch of cute stories. After church, I'll ask them what they got out of the message. I want to hear what they have to say and there is no right or wrong answer. I just want to hear their hearts.
#5 Attend a church that believes the Holy Spirit can move through children.
But Jesus said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children." Matthew 19:14 (NLT)
I've heard Pastor Luis Reyes who ministers to thousands of children every week in Chicago say that you can tell the temperature of a church by the children. My husband and I chose our church because of the children. When my husband saw kids raising their hands and worshipping God, he said that we needed to move to Kansas City to join this church.
I don't know very many fathers that would leave a nice home, a high-paying job and friends to join a church because he's concerned about their future. I'm thankful that my husband was willing to drop his nets and follow God for the sake of our kids. The church we attend believes that there is no junior Holy Spirit. They believe that the Holy Spirit is just as active in the childen as in the adults.
Children and teenagers are given opportunities to minister and the ministry has the same level of excellence as far as leadership, facilities and resources as the ministry to adults. I've seen children preach, prophesy and pray. I've received prayer from my own children that brought healing. When your children are in a place with no spiritual limits, you will be amazed at what God does through them.
Raising kids that love God will be hardest thing you've ever done in your life. You will have to pay a price and sacrifice your own dreams. But when D'Andra asks me if there is church tonight or I see my sons helping to lead worship, it is well worth what we gave up.
Leilani Haywood is the editor of Spiritled Woman eMagazine. She is an award-winning writer who has been published in The Kansas City Star, MetroVoice Newspaper, Focus on the Family, Charisma and other publications. Follow her on Twitter @leilanihaywood.
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