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Minister's Forum

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Be intentional about passing faith to next generation

One of the things that my wife and I enjoy doing is going to antique stores and looking for antiques.
There is something that is very intriguing to me about sitting in a 110-year-old chair and thinking about the people, the conversations, the laughter and the tears that may have happened while sitting in this chair.

In fact, in my own home, we have some antiques, some family heirlooms that have been entrusted to us. We have some clocks and quilts, a table and chairs, and some other items that all belonged to our ancestors. These items hold some special meaning to us because they are part of who we are. They are part of our heritage.
But there is something so much more important that we, as "generation now," need to be passing down to our "generation next."  Something that is so much more significant than tables and chairs and clocks and money, an inheritance that will have a lifelong impact and an eternal impact, as well. You see, if you are a Christ follower, we need to be passing down the inheritance of our faith.
There is nothing we can give the next generation that will impact their lives more than a growing, thriving relationship with God. That relationship with God impacts every area of a our lives. It impacts how we handle and manage relationships, how we handle our stuff, our decision making, and our ability to face the inevitable challenges and heartaches of life. Then, on top of all of that, it also impacts where we will spend eternity.  What greater inheritance could we leave the next generation  than our faith in Christ?
But in order to leave an inheritance of faith to our kids, we must first be very intentional about our own personal relationship with God. Because what we do – or what we don’t do – with our faith has a profound effect on our "generation next."
Look at what James Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on The Family, says about this issue in his book, “Bringing up Boys”:
“Children get their values and beliefs from what they see modeled at home. It is one reason why moms and dads must live a morally consistent life in front of their kids. If they hope to win them for Christ, they can’t afford to be casual or whimsical about the things they believe. If you as a parent act as though there is no absolute truth, and if you are too busy to pray and attend church services together, and if your kids are allowed to play soccer and Little League during Sunday school, and if you cheat on your income tax or lie to the bill collector or fight endlessly with your neighbors, your children will get the message. ‘Mom and Dad talk a good game, but they don’t really believe it.’
"If you serve them this weak soup throughout childhood, they will spew it out when given the opportunity. Any ethical weak spot of this nature – any lack of clarity on matters of right and wrong – will be noted and magnified by the next generation.”
If we want to leave an inheritance of faith to our generation next, we must be intentional about our relationship with God, but we also must be intentional about handing off our faith to our generation next. One of the biggest mistakes we can make when it comes to handing off our faith is thinking that it will just happen or that the next generation (or our kids) will just “catch it” at church or from their friends. But one of the big things we have to remember is that just because we may be a Christian, it doesn’t mean our generation next will be a Christian to. We have to be very intentional about handing off the baton of our faith.
Look at what is says in Deuteronomy 6:5-7: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
But, you know, in the world of “You believe what you want to and I’ll believe what I want to and we’ll all be hunky dory,” it can sound very cool, very open-minded and understanding for someone to say, “I’m not going to tell my kids what to believe.  I’m just going to let them choose their own religion.” Or “I’m not going to make my kids go to church. I’m going to just let them decide.”
I’m not quite sure why we do this with our faith. Just think about it. What if we took that same attitude when it comes to their education? “Oh, I’m just going to let my kids decide if going to school is right for them or not. I’m not going to make them go to school.” Or “Crack cocaine? Hey, I’ll just let my kids decide if they want to smoke some crack.” We wouldn’t even think of taking that attitude, because it would be a disaster. So why would we do that with something exponentially more important, like our faith? You see it is OUR responsibility –  yours and mine – to train, teach, guide and direct our generation next.
But in all of this, one of the most important things that will help us pass down our faith to our generation next is being intentional about investing in things that will outlast us. Maybe what that means for us is sponsoring a child through Compassion International to help a future generation of children hear about Christ and carry on the message of Christ all around the world.
Maybe that means examining our parenting style and the way we speak to (or maybe don’t speak to) our kids, because we recognize that what we model to our children is more than likely what they will model to their children.
Maybe, as a stay-at-home mom, it is recognizing that in the midst of the craziness of managing a home and family that the time you take to stop and pray with your kids or memorize a verse out of the Bible or show them what God says about hard work and determination or some other aspect of life is an investment that will far outlast you.  
In order to leave our generation next an inheritance of faith,  we must be intentional about our own relationship with God.  We must be intentional about handing off our faith, and we need to intentionally invest in things that will outlast us.
One of the things I try to do, and would like to challenge   every one of us to do, is to end our day asking ourselves “What have I done today that will outlast me?” And then live with a focus to leave an inheritance of faith.