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Having Conversations with Your Kids about Faith

By: Joe Willmann

One of the most seemingly daunting tasks of being a parent is having conversations with your kids about faith. It can be scary. It can be intimidating. Luckily for us, we have been given an amazing resource to help guide us in the process, Luther’s Small Catechism.

CPH EDU caught up with author Dr. David Rueter in Arizona. He talked about a few practical situations that we all come across as parents. What you walk away with, after listening to Dr. Rueter, is a sense of how calming talking to your kids about faith can be.

In his book, Teaching the Faith at Home, Rueter gives parents lots of practical advice. Here is an excerpt from his chapter on the Ten Commandments:

As parents, we should approach the moral formation of our children in such a way that we try to avoid doing so in a form that might degenerate into mere moralism. We need to be careful so that we do not confuse our own efforts as the source of our salvation or cause such confusion in our children. When I was serving in my first church, a gentleman in our congregation suggested that we really do not need to consider theology when it comes to teaching children. He proposed that we join in with the Episcopal church down the street from our Lutheran congregation. I simply could not disagree more with his premise that theology is not essential for designing our approach to teaching the faith to children and youth. It is important that we as parents lay the proper foundation. When beginning our teaching of the Ten Commandments, we ought to make it clear that we strive to obey the commandments out of gratitude to Christ, since we have been saved by Him. We do not do so out of obligation in an effort to justify ourselves.

Practically speaking, this means that we need to be a bit redundant. We need to invest in the joy of purposeful repetition. We need to remind our children regularly that they should seek to keep the commandments not because failure to do so will upset us as parents or make God mad (an approach too often used), but because God has created us to keep them and do good works in His name through them.This is not conceptually a simple thing to achieve with young children. Developmentally, they may only be ready to respond out of a desire to please us as their parents. Even so, our teaching should not reinforce this stage of their development but gently push them to move beyond it. Teach and remind them that obeying the Ten Commandments is our response to the love of God in Christ’s saving work, but recognize that this often will not be what they do in practice. In this way, you lay a motivational foundation for keeping the commandments that properly aligns with a Lutheran understanding of the Christian faith.Dr. David Rueter

What do you think? How do you engage these types of conversations with your children at home? We would love to hear from you in the comment section below!

Quotation from Teaching the Faith at Home, pages 133–134, copyright © 2016 David L. Rueter, published by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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