Successfully passing faith in Christ on to the next generation is one of the most important responsibilities Christian parents and ministry leaders are to pursue. It’s also one of the most difficult. Author Chap Bettis talks about the opportunity and challenges:
Passing on the [Christian] faith has been compared to handing off a baton in a relay race. And there are many things to commend that analogy to us. There is a real gospel—the baton—to pass on. It must be passed on individually. The one with the baton has to hold it out, and the one receiving the baton has to reach back for it and close his hand around it. There is a time to pass on the baton, the exchange zone, which does not last forever. All of these are excellent pictures to help us think through this subject.
There is a problem with this illustration, however. We are not handing off the baton at a friendly track meet—rather this exchange takes place on a battlefield! We are attempting to pass on this baton of the gospel while we and our children are being shot at! And what about those observing in the stands? A few are cheering us on, but many in the stands—the world—are laughing at our child’s attempt to run the race. (From The Disciple-Making Parent, p. 8.)
Rather than be discouraged by this, we as parents and ministry leaders should use this as motivation to prepare our children and students to face the challenge. We must arm them with God’s Truth and point them to complete dependence on His sovereign grace.Furthermore, we should provide them with a distinctive, unwavering biblical worldview by teaching them:
- that the Bible is absolute Truth and is totally reliable and sufficient.
- a deep and robust understanding of God’s nature and character.
- that biblical truth is relevant to everything in life.
- to evaluate all things through the truth of Scripture: biblical discernment.
- the enlightening and transforming truth of the gospel.
- that a biblical worldview is meant to point them to true, lasting joy.
- to boldly proclaim God’s truth in a spirit of humility.
- to expect opposition and to be prepared to stand firm.
We can encourage them when they face opposition by:
- Pointing out evidence of God’s grace in their lives.
- Reminding them of Jesus and others who have experienced ridicule and have been hated by the world.
- Praying with and for them on a regular basis.
- Finding older, mature Christians to mentor them.
- Keeping them in the Word and providing devotionals and other resources that will serve to increase their confidence in God.
- Instructing them in Christian apologetics—reasons and arguments for why we believe what we believe—thereby equipping them to vigorously defend the faith.