I recently read pastor and author Mark Holmen speak on the role of the family in inculcating faith. He presented research by the Search Institute on the most significant religious influences on a child’s faith. It isn’t the programs at their church, the pastor or their youth pastor; it is their parents, particularly the mother being the most influential and the father the second most influential. That’s right the parents play the most crucial role. Wouldn’t it be easier if the answer were to outsource our children’s spiritual lives to a professional, as we do with soccer, piano or dance? The research is clear, however: having faithful parents is by far the best indication that a child will continue to attend church as an adult. Once parents come to terms with their indispensable role in their children’s faith, their next question for Holmen is what they should be doing at home. Again, the answer isn’t for parents to launch a snazzy faith program at home, but for them to do the simple but challenging work of living the Christian life, day in and day out, in front of their children. A key part of that laudatory example is to attend Sunday mass together not occasionally nor when it is convenient but each and every Sunday. The children notice our commitment to what is important. They notice for our actions speak louder than our words.
The best gift you can offer your children is the example of a lived faith. It is quite challenging to raise children today and more challenging if they do not know the love of God for them. We want the best for our children so why would we not offer to them what is most paramount a life centered on Christ? To deprive children of this gift is comparable to child abuse. We cheat our children if they are not invited to know Jesus Christ. Not only does attending church help then in their faith walk but in multiple areas of life. In study, after study, after study, children who actively engage in a faith community on a regular basis are rewarded with SIGNIFICANTLY reduced likelihood of life problems and risky behaviors, and stand to significantly improve their odds of a happier, healthier, and longer life. It significantly reduces your child’s use and risk from Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs and dramatically lower their risk of suicide. Incidentally these studies show the same results for adults as well. We cannot pass on this responsibility to others. It begins at home and the church is here to assist you not replace you. Working together we can make a difference in the life of your child (children). God desires this and I know you do as well. Please make the commitment. See you Sunday.