2. Live Authentically
When you are trying to teach apologetics in your home, remember that the single greatest infuence on the beliefs of children is the beliefs of their parents. Common sense and our own experiences show this to be true. More than anything in my life, the religious beliefs and practices of my parents influenced my beliefs. But research also shows this to be true.1
Children are learning sponges. They soak up everything around them. They are programmed to learn, and they learn first by watching. Your lifestyle is a powerful teacher. It shows them what is important. It shows them what is true. It shows them what you really believe.
When children see active, authentic faith, they learn that God is of primary importance. They see the value of knowing and following Him. They see that He is not a component of life but the source of true life. However, when children see inactive, inauthentic faith, they learn that while religion may have some value, it is no more (and sometimes much less) important than sports or a hobby. It is something that might make your life better if and when it fits into your schedule.
By the time children can think abstractly, they have already learned through their parents the value of God and His place in our lives. This means that in the battle for the hearts and minds of children, the church cannot ignore the hearts and minds of parents. Church leaders must equip parents to know God rightly and follow Him faithfully if ministry to children has a chance at being effective. There is no such thing as a good children’s ministry or youth ministry if there is no active ministry to parents. And, parents, take the responsibility—and privilege!—of growing up in Christ. Do not wait for the church to “feed you.” Grow in knowledge and obedience, and your children will benefit because of it. Let your genuine holiness, your life of faith and obedience, be the first apologetic lesson for your families.
to be continued... Click here to read the final part of Three Essential Parts of Teaching Children Apologetics: Provide Safety
This is an excerpt from chapter fifteen in Relational Apologetics: Defending the Christian Faith With Holiness, Respect and Truth.
1. Christian Smith, a sociologist out of Notre Dame, has been studying religion in adolescents for more than ten years. He and a team of researchers have found that an overwhelming majority (upwards of 70 percent) of young peo- ple have religious beliefs similar to their parents. See Christian Smith, Soul Searching: e Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 35.