I was recently asked to give a talk to parents about how they can pass on faith to their kids. As I prepared for this talk, this one line kept coming to mind:
Home is church, too. We experience God in the context of our intimate relationships.
I first heard that quote at a Vibrant Faith @ Home seminar from Leif Kehrwald. It really struck a chord with me.
As a ministry leader, I have often focused on how I can get more people to my programs and events at the church. My goal is always to connect them to the church community and to Christ, but I sometimes fell into the trap that the best place for this to happen was at church.
Yet, research continues to show that parents have the biggest influence on the faith life of everyone in the home, including the children. Therefore, my role also needs to be about empowering parents to take that influence seriously.
The best way I can do this is by helping parents come to the realization that the home is church, too.
In Kehrwald’s seminar, he shared with us the 6 ways that families grow in faith together.
Families grow in faith together when…
- They talk with each other about their faith (not preach or teach faith)
- They pray together in ways that are comfortable and comforting
- They ritualize their important moments
- They reach out in service and support of others
- They share Bible stories to connect with family stories
- They learn about faith together in comfortable and fun ways
For the talk I was asked to do with parents, I merely took Kehrwald’s ideas and made them more concrete and tried to provide practical ways where parents could do all 6 of these things in some way, shape, or form.
Here are some examples I share for each of the 6 ways to grow in faith together:
- Share with your kids some things about the faith that you totally agree with and some things that you are currently struggling with. Make the topic age appropriate.
- When something major happens in the life of your family, take time to pray. That could be when a family member is sick, a dog dies, a sacrament is celebrated, or a child passed a major test or milestone.
- Create a ritual at home around birthdays, graduations, getting a driver’s license, and for the first and last day of school.
- When the kids are young, help out an ailing senior citizen clean up their house or cook a meal for them. When they are teens, go as a family on a parish mission trip either out of city, state, or country. Or, when you are on vacation as a family, take a few hours to do some service where ever you are.
- Read the story of Jesus’ birth and talk about the day that your children were born.
- Take one of the interactive sessions from Vibrant Faith @ Home and use it as a family. It’s free and there are a ton of resources to use.
The key is to keep it simple. Families are busy. The goal is to not add one more thing to their plate. The goal is to make faith a normal routine at home.
And it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Question: What strategies have you used to empower parents to take their role seriously as the primary teacher of the faith?