Arkansas Christian Parent (Spring/Summer 2014)

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Integrating spiritual truths into everyday life By Garrick D. Conner

“Missionaries are special people who tell people all over the world about Jesus. I think I might want to do that someday.”


hose were the words of my then 6-year-old daughter, Caroline, as she talked with her mother. Any fear of her actually becoming a missionary in a far-away – and likely dangerous – place is completely erased when I think of how much God loves her. He will protect those He calls to serve – which, of course, doesn’t mean that some of us won’t die. Perhaps the greatest peace I have with God comes from knowing that even when death defeats me in this life, I will still experience eternal life with Him. And as a parent, it is important for us to communicate these spiritual truths to our children. Parenting is one of life’s greatest joys. It is also one of life’s greatest challenges. Raising a family in today’s fast-paced, egocentric society is not easy. It’s no different with families who attend church. In fact, in some regards it may actually be harder, in that there’s another schedule to be coordinated. Regardless of the difficulty involved in the biblical training of our children, failure to do so is simply not an available option for a Christian parent. In his widely acclaimed book, “Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions,” statistician and researcher George Barna speaks to this fact. He says that the default strategy of most Christian parents is to simply relegate



the spiritual training and development of their children to the church. This is a major problem because, as Barna’s research discovered, a person’s lifelong behaviors and views are generally developed when they are young – particularly before they reach the teenage years. That was certainly true for me, as I came to a saving knowledge of Christ when I was 9. Michelle and I are very blessed. Our son, Jackson, made a decision to follow Christ when he was 6, and I had the great privilege of baptizing him. A couple years ago, our daughter, Caroline, also made a decision to follow Christ at that same tender age, and I baptized her as well. There’s an indescribable joy that comes with the realization that every family member professes loyalty and devotion to Christ. As parents, we believe that the spiritual formation of children should come from a joint partnership between home and church. Indeed, our children have been blessed to have many godly teachers in Sunday school, vacation Bible school, missions groups, etc. Still, under normal circumstances the church has, at most, 200 hours with each child in a year’s time — as compared to more than 3,000 hours parents have with their children. Think about that for a moment. Parents have at least 15 times the number of