7 Rules for Raising Kids Who Love Jesus

Every parent who is a believer has a deep desire to see his or her child grow up to love Jesus.

Every children’s ministry leader serves with the hope that the kids in his or her ministry will become lifelong followers of Jesus.

While there is no ironclad guarantee that the kids you’re leading will grow up to love Jesus (if you’re thinking about Proverbs 22:6 right now—you might want to read this), there are some rules involved when you see a kid’s faith flourish into his or her adult years. Here are seven of them.

#1—Parents and leaders model genuine faith. Yes, faith comes from being taught the Word of God. But it’s also caught by kids who see it modeled by their parents and leaders. Kids are great “fake” detectors and they see right through fake faith. What happens at home and during the week must match what is heard at church.

#2—Help them clearly understand what it means to follow Jesus. Many kids who walk away from their faith never had a genuine faith to begin with. They went forward, someone announced to the church that they were “saved” and they were baptized. And yet … they never had a clear understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. This is a big reason why I’m not a fan of large group salvation prayers with kids.

It is critical that we help kids understand clearly what it means to follow Jesus. This is why we moved away from praying the salvation prayer with kids in a children’s ministry service or classroom. Instead, we have them attend a class with their parents where the Gospel is clearly presented and we have time to talk with them and follow up with them to make sure they understand the commitment they’re making. If you’d like to know more about the class, you can get info here.

#3—Emphasize relationship over rules. When rules are elevated above relationship, God becomes a hard task master to kids. You may gain outward conformity through fear, but eventually they will bolt when they get the chance.

Yes … rules are important, but the basis for rules is even more important. When we help kids see that God gives us commandments because He loves us and wants what is best for us, it can be a game-changer.

Always explain the “why” behind the rules. And the why is a God who passionately loves them and wants to be their best friend.

#4—Always teach life application. Faith without works is dead. It’s not enough to fill kids’ heads with Bible knowledge. The devil knows more Bible than you and I. We must show kids how to live out the Word of God. Always … always … always … take the next step and help them apply God’s Word to their life.

#5—Show them how to grow their faith. Yes. It’s vital to pray with kids and read God’s Word with kids. But we must also show them how to grow their own faith. This means showing them how to have a quiet time, how to meditate on God’s Word, how to pray and how to walk with God. As they grow into their pre-teen years, there should be a shift to their primary source of spiritual food coming from themselves.

#6—Talk about the hard questions now instead of later. How do you know God created the world … is this compatible with science? If God is real, why does He allow evil? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why does God allow devastating storms and natural disasters that kill thousands of people? How do you know the Bible is the Word of God? Why is Jesus the only way to eternal life?

Kids who grow up to love Jesus aren’t faced with these type of questions for the first time in a college classroom. They were encouraged to ask and explore these kind of questions when they were kids. And instead of being given cute, one-line answers, they were shown how to dig deep for answers.

#7—Get them involved in serving. When it comes to physical health, the reason working out works is because you are using your muscles. They respond to the movement and grow. Exercise stimulates muscle growth.

The same is true with kids’ spiritual health. The vast majority of time when a kid grows up to love Jesus, you will see a pattern of the kid “working out” his or her spiritual muscles through serving.

One of the best things you can do as a parent or leader is involve kids in serving. Serving is super glue when it comes to seeing kids’ faith stick.

Your turn. The floor is yours. What are some other rules for seeing kids grow up to love Jesus?  

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Dale Hudson
Dale Hudson has been serving in children's ministry for over 28 years. He is an author, speaker and ministry leader.  He is the founder and director of Building Children's Ministry. BCM helps churches build strong leaders, teams and children's ministries.  (www.buildingchildrensministry.com)

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