The prepared parent
Resources for your own faith
Here we look at key resources for preparing you to pass on your faith to your children. This includes guidance on teaching the Bible as well as materials for a basic grounding in Christian apologetics. This should prepare you to think critically about our culture and the challenges we and our children are going to face.
"It’s hard to understand how people today can risk parenthood without having studied apologetics... It’s insufficient for youth groups and Sunday school...to focus on entertainment and simpering devotional thoughts. We’ve got to train our kids for war. We dare not send them out to...high school and university armed with rubber swords and plastic armor. The time for playing games is past.”
Dr William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith
Guidance On Teaching The Bible To Your children
Peter Enns: Telling God's Story
Peter Enns holds qualifications from Harvard and Westminster Theological Seminary in Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Literature, and Theology.
In this slim book (under 100 pages of text) he outlines the task of the committed parent and highlights the challenge of teaching this very old, very strange (to our sensibilities) text.
He suggests a layered approach depending on the age of the child, starting with primarily teaching about Jesus with elementary school children, before putting the life of Jesus in the context of the larger narrative of the Biblical story for the middle school years. The final stage is examining the Bible in its' cultural context for children at high-school.
Enns encourages us to avoid pitfalls in the traditional approaches; that of telling individual Bible stories, or character studies or of looking at the Bible primarily from a defensive perspective. Instead, he wants parents to explain the whole narrative arc of the Bible, and to this end, his book closes with a useful overview of the story of Redemption.
Enns book is humble, accessible, contains humour appreciable by any parent, and does not pull any punches on the enormity of the task of preparing to children to have a culturally viable faith in the 21st century.
"This responsibility is one that Jewish and Christian parents have followed with sincerity, gravity and diligence for 2000 years and more. When we today take on the same task, we step into a wonderful, time-honoured tradition. Remember that you are not the first parents to face this challenge-and you are not the first parents to have misgivings and anxieties about it. Many, many have gone before you, and you are now part of this brotherhood and sisterhood. This is an honour and a reason to rejoice."
Resources to enrich your faith
In order to have fruitful conversations with your children, you’re going to need a certain amount of familiarity with the issues they are going to face if they are to sustain their Christian faith. What this means in practice is that you will need to grow more knowledgeable about apologetics.
Fortunately this needn’t be daunting. There is a wealth of high quality resources available, in print and online, that demonstrate that Christian faith can not only be credible in a highly skeptical world but also richly rewarding to study.
Books, blogs and articles
Encouraging faith has provided a reading list that we think will start you off on your journey. Obviously we would recommend reading the basic or ‘entry-level’ resources first, but we also include intermediate and advanced materials to work up to, or for those with some prior experience
It may be that you can read quickly and can make rapid progress, but if not it would be a good discipline to set aside a little time each day to read, say, a chapter of one of these to work your way through them over time. Obviously this needs to be set alongside other basic Christian disciplines; that of reading the bible and praying regularly. Taking on the responsibility of regular encouragement sessions should also mean these facets of discipleship are in place, as they will strengthen and nourish the whole project. Your spirituality is also part of the message to your children, and apologetics is no substitute for a living relationship with Jesus.
Audiovisual resources are very important to Encouraging Faith, as more than written materials they have an immediate appeal to children.
Youtube is potentially a rich mine of materials, but discretion is advised, and it is important to sift the wheat from the chaff. Here many of the basic arguments for the existence of God are explained simply and effectively, alongside many attempted rebuttals of those arguments. Also, there are many debates that can be instructive, showing arguments for and against faith alongside each other. These will be more important as your children mature, and want to see the other side of the argument portrayed persuasively, and showing them how the faith can be articulated and defended under pressure.
The Spoken Word
Listening to materials is a great way to save time. Whilst driving to work or washing up the dishes, pretty much all it takes is your smartphone and some headphones and you’re away.
There are a huge number of podcasts of great apologetic value; whether engaging with facets of western culture from a Christian perspective, or teaching doctrine, they’re a great way to expand your mind.