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Ministers, wives say they want children to have their own faith

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–Developing a faith tied more to the church than a personal relationship with God was cited as a pitfall of growing up in a minister’s home.

Couples attending the Minister’s Family Weekend, July 7-10, at Glorieta, a LifeWay Conference Center in New Mexico, shared their concerns during a conference on “Being Spiritually Real at Home.”

Discussion centered around the open-ended sentence, “The greatest fear I have about my children’s spiritual life, growing up in a minister’s family, is … .”

“There is a difference between going to church and having your own faith,” said Vickie Knierim, a writer and conference leader from Mount Juliet, Tenn.

Some parents may insist on children being in church for every activity. However, they create confusion in their children’s minds when their behavior at home doesn’t match their actions at church, she noted.

Children who do not see Christian faith modeled at home and who are not really taught at church cannot express why they believe what they believe. Many times, she said, their answer to a faith-related question is “just because.”

“We teach the faith of it, but we don’t teach the facts. We sometimes assume children pick up what we know without our having talked with them about it,” Knierim said.

Participants listed 10 actions ministry couples can take to help their children have their own faith and personal relationship with God:

1) Take them with you to visit for the church and talk with them about the experience.

2) Let them know that you have a personal relationship with God and that your work is not just a job.

3) Encourage them to witness to their classmates by explaining their personal relationship to God.

4) Teach them how to pray about their concerns.

5) Help them to be involved in their own ministry out of their own interests.

6) Help them to know people who are experiencing God.

7) Allow them to express themselves fully in discussing what a specific Scripture passage means to them.

8) Encourage them to think for themselves.

9) Admit mistakes. Help children to understand the Christian life is a process and that Christians are not perfect.

10) Help them to determine what God wants them to do, rather than what parents or others want them to do.

The LeaderCare section of the pastor-staff leadership department at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention sponsored minister’s Family Weekend. LeaderCare is a ministry to ministers and their families.

    About the Author

  • Charles Willis