The Importance of Community in the Spiritual Formation of Our Children

By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

Our identity has a big impact on the way we live and the choices we make. What we believe about who we are impacts our lives for eternity. This is where community really comes in for our kids and us. A faith community is meant to be a source of strength. According to C.S. Lewis, “The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.”

For adults and children alike, spiritual formation occurs primarily in the context of community. Joseph Hellerman sums it up well: “People who remain connected with their brothers and sisters in the local church almost invariably grow in self-understanding. And they mature in their ability to relate in healthy ways to God and to their fellow human beings. This is especially the case for those courageous Christians who stick it out through the often-messy process of interpersonal discord and conflict resolution. Long-term interpersonal relationships are the crucible of genuine progress in the Christian life. People who stay grow.”

As parents we want our kids to have a living and thriving relationship with Christ. We have a huge impact in the spiritual formation of our children simply by living out our faith in their presence. Parents that are intentional about teaching their children about Christ influence the results even more.

Yet, our kids’ spiritual development can benefit from the influences of other Christ followers being an active part of their lives. By partnering with family members, church ministries, and faith community members, you are investing into your child’s faith. Like the old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” it takes a church to raise a child into their identity as a Christ follower.

Outside influences are a constant part of your child’s life. They spend many hours in the presence of peers, classmates, teachers, coaches, neighbors, TV, movies, music, and video games. A strong strategy as a parent is to counter the outside influences with Christ followers who can invest into your child’s life in a way that multiplies the effectiveness of your teaching. This can be children’s ministry, youth ministry, FCA, and midweek ministries like Awana.

Since we as parents also benefit from being in a faith community, surrounding ourselves with other believers on a consistent basis not only spurs us to grow in our faith but also gives our children other trustworthy adults to learn from in a safe environment. This can be a small group, a house church, or even an informal group of people that consistently and intentionally stay connected and growing spiritually together.

God designed us as relational beings so that we could build one another up and support each other in spiritual growth. It is especially important for kids as they grow and leave the security of family to know that God’s family is there wherever they go

Having your family be a part of a faith community environment…

  • Offers adults and children a strong sense of identity, security, and belonging.
  • Equips and disciples parents and kids
  • Brings the richness of worship together as a community
  • Provides a reprieve from the temptations and influences of the world around us.
  • Provides help to the family in terms of creating opportunities to grow spiritually by serving others and worshipping in the presence of others.
  • Gets kids connected to a spiritual support system
  • Helps kids understand why they need it.

According to George Barna, parents that relied on faith communities to provide emotional support through difficult times in relationships with other like-minded parents gained perspective, fresh ideas, and were spiritually nurturing their need to grow spiritually. They were more likely to raise kids with a strong identity tied to Christ and a thriving faith.

Another benefit of having children connected to church ministries and faith communities is the opportunity to make friends that are more likely to have Biblical morals and parents who take these matters seriously.

If you are committed to raising your children to be lifelong Christ followers, then take some time to strategize ways to get them connected to ministries within the church and to surround your family in a community of like-minded people, as well. They benefit, you benefit, and the other people connected to you in community benefit, as well. That’s a win-win investment!

 

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