(Many great books have been written recently about how to be more intentional in forging faith in the home. Most so far have been written by female authors and while inclusive, tend to speak better to moms and women. Over the next several weeks I want to speak to dads in male language about their unique call to forge faith in their kids. My hope is to turn this into a free e-book. So comments, suggestions, ideas, along the way are welcome and appreciated.)
Did you know that according to research the primary influencer of faith in your kids is not:
- The youth director
- The Pastor
- The Sunday School program
- The Church
That’s not to say that the above are not important to the faith development of your kids. As we’ll see, they are.
But the number 1 influencer of faith in kids is…
…M O M!
Mom’s number 1! Mom’s number 1!
(Effective Christian Education: A National Study of Protestant Congregations, 1990, Search Institute)
Perhaps you read that and immediately feel deflated. (Over the last few years culture has not been kind to dads, suggesting that perhaps dads have gone the way of the black and white TV. And this simply adds more fuel to the claim.)
Perhaps you read that and shrug your shoulders because it seems so obvious. Maybe your mom was the primary faith former in your home. Maybe you’ve followed that parental modeling and have left faith formation to your spouse.
My hope is that it brings out your God-given, testosterone-driven sense of competition; that something stirs in your gut that says, “What do I need to do to be number 1?”
(I know that forming faith in our kids is not a competition. It’s a team sport that takes mom, dad, grandparents, mentors, and the Church. But competition is one of the gifts God has created into the DNA of men that can motivate us to good, noble actions.)
A confession: Guys, you know how coaches use “billboard” material to motivate the team? A snarky comment from a player whose team you will be playing in a few days? A headline calling the teams’ talent into question? A point spread declaring the team an overwhelming underdog?
I did a little billboarding just now. Research does say that, according to most youth, mom is the primary faith influencer in their lives.
But dad…you come in a close second!
Think about the implications of that! The way you live your life…the way you live out your faith (or don’t live out your faith) is second only to mom (and not by much) in the impact on the faith quest of your kids. No matter how active your kids may be in Sunday School, or the youth group, or in service through the church, or in worship, your faith life practiced and modeled (or not practiced and not modeled) in the home, supersedes all of that!
Talk about compelling, humbling, motivating, scary, significant, vital, and life-shaping!
As one author puts it, “When it comes to kids’ faith, parents get what they are.” (Christian Smith, panel discussion)