Family is the top influencing factor in a child’s faith. As parents, the Bible calls us to “direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it” (Proverbs 22:6 NLT). With around 3,000 hours to influence their kids in a year, it’s critical that parents lean into this influence by demonstrating their own faith and encouraging their kids to spend time in God’s Word at every age and stage of their lives.
“Church typically gets a small slice of time in a child’s life, often just an hour and a half once a week. This means parents have far more time and opportunity for influence— as well as more responsibility to shape the character of their child—than a church does.” -Janelle Schroy, co-founder of Adventure Clubs
Our recent study with Barna found that parents begin to let their children manage their own Scripture engagement around age 9 (almost a 30% drop!). The research also found that the new autonomy was often followed by a decline in Scripture engagement for children ages 10-12.
Pre-adolescents, while beginning to read and do many things on their own, still need guidance. Though it won’t need to be as heavy-handed as the infant, toddler, and elementary stages, they still need us to help guide their spiritual journey. Exodus 18:20 NLT reminds us of our responsibility as adults to: “Teach them God’s decrees, and give them his instructions. Show them how to conduct their lives.”
As children grow, they can start to engage with Scripture on their own, they still need us to point things out and check for understanding by asking questions. This dialogue not only helps kids gain knowledge but also begin personalizing and refining their faith. Your gentle yet active engagement and subtle guidance as they start to build their autonomous Scripture engagement muscle is a rich activity that will bolster your child’s healthy spiritual growth and development.
Questions you can ask about the Bible: