If the Laissez faire is foolish and the Fortress method only temporary, how do we prepare our children for a life of Christian faith that can withstand the arguments and abuse that will certainly come.
Let me begin by saying, if one believes that Scripture is the Word of God and that the Holy Spirit is real and that God’s promises are true then there is no reason to be fearful. Too often however, I have seen parenting that is driven by fear – fear of the world and its myriad dangers.
From an early age, starting with Children’s Bibles, teach the truth as the Bible presents it. (The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes by Kenneth Taylor is a classic in this area). Do this daily, whether at the meal table or bedtime. And pray regularly. As the children grow, so must the sophistication of the stories and the discussion. Bible knowledge is the bedrock from which we defend our faith. Memorising stories and verses become essential tools for the future.
Knowing the overarching story of Scripture with the centrality of the promised Christ in the Old Testament and his arrival in the New will protect them from seeing Scripture as a mere set of moral rules. As our children grow older they discover that the Bible is presenting an image of a Kingdom that has come in Christ and will be completely revealed with his return. They need a picture of eternity and the relationship of our earthly pilgrimage to it.
I could say so much more about this but I think you get the drift. Our children need to be seeped in knowledge AND in understanding. They need to understand the uniqueness of the faith. Critically, they also need to know that God has created them for a purpose in His kingdom, both now and forever.
So where do other faiths come in? Don’t major on minors. What are the predominant counter Christian worldviews today? What do people believe? What motivates the lives of people? What dominant values does the media portray? How is Christianity distinctive from these views?
To understand these motivations is to know where Christianity differs. What are the logical outcomes of these “faiths”? E.g. If we are simply the product of evolution how does that affect our value as humans? How does this contrast with being a child of God? And what about faiths that demand we earn our salvation? What does that reveal about their view of sin and how does that match up with the Christian concept of Grace?
Finally, as parents we need to model a genuine Christian life where our words and actions, choices and views are shaped by our faith. Our children need to see us talking with God and studying His word. Our children need to see that our lives are not lived out of custom and superstition but out of a living relationship.
Is this a guarantee. No. Ultimately our children will need to make choices of their own. But if you hearken back to Prov 22:6,(see: A Scary Verse) the principle is that if we set the foundations of faith the likelihood of straying will be greatly reduced.