Pastor Danny here. I often come across articles that are helpful to me in both parenting AND ministering to children. One such article is below. It is by Keegan Lenker, Pastor of Intergenerational Discipleship at Pasadena Nazarene Church. Keegan was very taken with Sticky Faith by Kara Powell and Chap Clark. The book talks about ways to help our young people “stick” with their faith as they grow up. Or, depending on how you look at it, how we adults can make the Christian faith more “sticky” by how we present it and live it out. Here are five ways according to Keegan that we can make faith more “sticky” for kids today:
1. Parents are often anxious about faith conversations
One question I asked parents was about the ways the family either talks about faith or prays. Outside of praying at mealtime, I often heard how intimidating praying or talking about faith actually is for some of these parents, even when they have grown up in the church.
I often hear parents say they desire for their children to have a faith that is deeper and more authentic than theirs has been. This is a really GOOD desire. The Sticky Faith research indicates that parents still have the greatest influence on the faith formation of their children. The heart-wrenching truth is that as parents we tend to get what we are when it comes to faith. Kids mirror what is modeled, including the ways we talk about our faith.
2. Parents struggle with sharing their testimonies
Most of the families I met with had never sat down and shared their stories of faith with their kids. Their kids don’t know when in their lives they started to take Jesus seriously. Helping parents share these stories can be a powerful faith catalyst for teenage children. But parents often hesitate to share their past because of the “Green Light” effect…
3. Busting the myth of the Green Light
I like to invite parents to places of authentic conversation and honesty about their brokenness with their children in age-appropriate ways. Without a doubt when I invite them to be honest about the ways in which they have lived destructively, the most common response I get is, “If I am honest about what I have done in the past, I am giving a green light to my children to do what I did.”
Yet, when parents can be honest about who they are and what they have done, they are stepping off the pedestal that many of their kids have placed them on.
4. Deconstructing the Pedestal Parent
Pedestal parenting is what happens when the only things we talk about in our lives are the decisions and actions that feature our good sides. We showcase our successes and sweep the failures under the rug. It’s good for our kids to see the positive things, but when those are the only parts of our lives they see, they easily put us on pedestals. We create an unrealistic sense that they can never be like their parents because we have never made any mistakes. This can have a major effect on faith development.
On the flip side, when we are honest about our brokenness and show our real humanity to our children, we become more relatable to them. There is no guarantee they still won’t use this information against us in some way. My hope is that my kids will remember my brokenness and the ways I have grown from it.
5. De-pedestaling biblical heroes
I was talking with a friend not too long ago about this very thing. He began to share about how we also have done this with Biblical characters. We’ve placed them on pedestals for our kids. We never really tell the parts of the stories that reveal how broken most of them were. This might be one of the ways we’re stifling authentic faith formation in kids in our homes and our congregations.
I’m embarrassed to admit the ways in which I’ve conveyed an impossible faith-led life that my kids can never live up to. I also confess the ways I have contributed to this model in the church.
Yet all hope is not lost. This has always been God’s church, and he desires to use broken people for the sake of the Kingdom. That puts all of us in play. You and I are invited as parents, pastors, friends, and strangers to embrace our stories of brokenness and to allow the transforming work of the Spirit to use us.
We’ve just got to step off our pedestals.
- Keegan Lenker, Pastor of Intergenerational Discipleship at Pasadena Nazarene Church.