By Rebeccah Sinclair

When Joel first started studying Apologetics, I was supportive and encouraging. I knew that it was God’s calling on his life and could see that he was very passionate about pursuing it and it was a great tool to teach our children how to follow Christ. It was amazing to watch. But, on the other hand, I didn’t understand the need for it all.

Joel and I would often get into lengthy discussions about the role of Apologetics and how many people were walking away from the Christian faith. Joel would often point out how many students (Jr high, high school, and college) were walking away from the Christian faith and, of those who stayed, how many did not know what Biblical Truth was.

Teaching Our Kids to Follow Jesus is Getting More Difficult

In 2020, the world seemed to change. Whether or not it DID change is another conversation. Still, issues tremored under the radar for several years suddenly came to light and forefront of discussion. Racism, protests, viruses, and attacks on police officers all rolled into 2021 when we saw the implementation of Critical Race Theory in our schools, job loss, rapid inflation in our economy, and a housing crisis. It didn’t stop there, as 2022 started with another foreign war and skyrocketing gas prices. If this wasn’t enough, a great chasm between believing Christians developed. They found themselves siding against unbiblical principles and agendas and against one another, divided as they sought out what Christ would say about each of these points. People on both sides of each issue utilized Bible verses to support their perspectives. They would quote from scripture why “Black Lives Matter” or “Police Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter.” People got angry, “unfriended” one another, and sought solace in exposing themselves to more articles, news stations, and studies that supported their perspectives.

The world has always had struggles. It’s an imperfect, fallen world, and both sides should 100% agree with this. All people, believers or not, should be able to recognize that our world has always been full of struggle, division, and conflict. The use of social media and the immediate access to information, plus the ability of anyone who so desires to give their opinions, drastically changes how all these issues impact each of us today compared to 100, 50, even ten years ago. It impacts adults, but it’s also affecting children of all ages.

Our Battle to Teach our Children to Follow Christ

Joel and I were a little older than many of our peers when we got married and thus were older when we had children. We are easily ten years older than other parents with children who are our children’s ages, and many friends our ages have older children. We watched as our friends who had Jr. high students and high school students had conversations about what had been happening in our society. Some handled it with understanding, grace, knowledge, and wisdom. Others struggled. Unfortunately, we knew several adults and children of our friends who have struggled with their faith, many walking away from Biblical truth or Christianity completely. Unfortunately, it can be tough to know how to make heads or tails of what’s going on around us, address cultural trends, and even more so, teach our children to hold fast to what they know and have confidence in their faith.

Legacy has been a Huge Help in the Battle!

Legacy thrives on empowering parents to meet these challenges. We serve, support, and equip Moms and Dads just like you. At Legacy, our goal is to equip parents to raise their kids with an “Unshakable Faith.” In Ephesians 6:12, Paul tells us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Paul knew then what we need to know now. That is, the world is waging a battle for our hearts and minds, as well as those of children. This is why Paul told the Ephesians to “put on the full armor of God (verse 11),” rather than physical armor. Our enemy, the devil, is after our hearts and minds; he desires to pull us away from God. How does the devil do this? He lies to us (John 8:44), he makes good look evil and evil look good (Isaiah 5:20,) and he perverts the good things of God (Acts 13:10.)

Tools to Teach Our Children to Follow Christ

At Legacy Family Ministries, we want to provide parents with the tools and techniques to raise our children to stand firm against the devil’s onslaught. We all need to teach our children to follow Christ. We do this by addressing the lies of the devil with biblical truth and walking beside parents and examine cultural issues. We start by teaching what the Bible says. But we do not stop there. We also show why the world’s lies do not stand up to intellectual scrutiny, tests against reality, and how they do not represent the best way to love our neighbor. In short, we empower families to live out a biblical worldview.

You might be wondering why we investigate the false claims of the world. In the sixties, a social psychologist, William McGuire, studied how to persuade others effectively and avoid persuasion. He found that the best way to inoculate someone against persuasion was to teach them what was true. Then, warn them that they must eventually confront counterarguments and show them what those counterarguments would be. And finally, explain to them why those counterarguments were poor refutations. [1] What does this tell us as parents seeking to raise our children with faith in Jesus that is strong? It is not enough for us to only teach our children what the Bible says; it’s not even enough to also teach our children that they will hear lies from the world. Instead, we must teach our children what the Bible says, what the world says, and show them why the Bible offers the true and better story.

We Teach Our Kids to Follow Christ so they will not Fall Away from the Faith

Christian parents should keep in mind the following statistic. Three out of every four young adults will leave their faith when they go to college. [2]. Unfortunately, that statistic is a bit of a misrepresentation; the truth is that those kids are lost in their hearts and minds long before they leave for college. [3] This should alarm us. As parents, if we want our kids to remain strong in their faith when the world’s lies come for them, we must prepare them in advance. While this should be our desire, the truth is that it is not optional for us. Proverbs 22:6 tells us to “train up your child in the way he should go, and even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” While this is not a promise and not a guarantee, the wisdom provided points us towards the direction in which we should parent. We need to apply this wisdom to our lives. Our job as Christ-following parents is to train our children in the ways of God.

What the Bible Says about Bringing Up Kids in the Faith

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” As Christian parents, our most important job is to teach our children about God and His goodness. [4] We cannot raise our children without the knowledge of the Lord and pray that they will not stray when they reach adulthood. We must be actively engaged in developing their spiritual lives today.

Perhaps you are reading this and thinking, “My kids don’t listen to me. They don’t care what I say.” We feel your pain! As parents, there are times when it is easy to believe that our kids are not paying attention to anything we say. Take heart! Studies show that parents are the biggest socializers in their children’s lives [5]. Parents have the biggest impact on their children’s spiritual development and are the most significant determiners of whether their children remain in the faith [6]. That is both great news and a huge responsibility.

Some Encouragement for Our Struggle to Teach Our children to follow Christ

Regarding the former, allow me to provide some encouragement; when it feels like you are not getting anywhere, when it feels like nothing we say is having an impact, when it feels like we are talking to a wall, we ARE having an effect. As for the latter, this means we bear responsibility for the spiritual lives of our children. Ultimately the choice to follow Jesus or not will be a choice children have to make on their own; this is free will, but that is not a scapegoat; what we say and do as parents matters.

So what are some things we can do as parents to help improve the likelihood that our children remain in the faith? Studies have indicated that parents who have successfully passed on their faith typically:

  1. Read the Bible with their children several times a week
  2. Attend churches that emphasize biblical teaching,
  3. Evangelize
  4. Asked for forgiveness when you make mistakes[7]

In short, as parents, we must make our faith real to our kids; our children must see and understand that our faith truly matters to us, that we live out our faith. Merely going to church is not going to be enough to safeguard our children against the devil’s schemes. If all we do is attend church for an hour a week, we are not making our faith real to our kids. We must demonstrate that our relationship with Jesus guides every other aspect of our lives. When our children see that our faith is authentic and that faith is the foundation of our lives, they will be much more likely to remain in the faith. We must live out a biblical worldview.

Kingdom Conversations at Home

Another essential element of engaging our children is through family conversations. An excellent time for family conversations is at dinner time. Ask children what is going on in their lives and what challenges and struggles they may have. Unfortunately, often, parents shy away from these conversations because they don’t know how to respond to questions their kids may have. This hesitation is understandable. Questions like “Why does the Bible say homosexuality is wrong?” or the newer “Why did my friend at school changes genders?” require thoughtful, loving, and biblically-based responses. Those responses are necessary if we wish to show the love of Jesus and explain why God offers a better story for humanity. Equipping parents to have these conversations is part of Legacy Family Ministries. We help parents understand the lies attacking their children and how to refute them with biblical truth, given in love.

The Heart of Legacy Family Ministries

The heart of Legacy Family Ministries is raising up the next generation to walk humbly with God. It’s important to teach our children to follow Christ! The United States is now a post-Christian nation. Christianity is always only one generation away from extinction. I am not ringing the alarmist bell, but that is the truth. We often hear issues like addiction, broken homes, and bad parenting are cyclical in the family; sadly, that is true. Yet, the converse is also true. Godly parenting is also cyclical. But, there is also the reality that God can move in any circumstance. God CAN and DOES MOVE regardless of a person’s history, background, or family of origin. GOD RESTORES. Parenting is a full-time job and takes consistent intentionality. But, the payoff is worth it; we can pass on a relationship with Christ to our future generations. Legacy Family Ministries can help you.

[1] McGuire, William: Effectiveness of Forewarning in Developing Resistance to Persuasion, Inducing Resistance To Persuasion, Resistance to Persuasion Conferred by Active and Passive Prior Refutation, The Effectiveness of Supportive and Refutational Defenses in Immunizing and Restoring Beliefs Against Persuasion, The Relative Efficacy of Various Types of Prior Belief-Defense in Producing Immunity Against Persuasion.

[2] LifeWay Research and Ministry Development study (2007.)

[3] Already Gone: Why your kids will quit church & what you can do to stop it (2009.)

[4] There are many additional verses, such as Ephesians 6:4, Isaiah 54:13, 2 Corinthians 12:14, etc.

[5] Souls in Transition: The Religious & Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults (2009.)

[6] Families & Faith: How Religion is Passed Down Across Generations (2013.)

[7] Nothing Less: Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of Faith (2018.) There are additional behavior parents can engage in, and the book provides additional information.