Back at the beginning of this year, we deemed 2016 to be “The Sticky Year”, inspired by the book Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids. Our mission for the year was to point out three key areas where you can invest intentionally in the lives of your kids to help them build a lasting faith and then give you practical ideas on taking ground in those areas. We started the year off by challenging you to consider “Sticky Serve” and the importance and value of serving together as a family. This summer, we want to draw your attention to what we are calling “Sticky Talk”.
Take a second and think about it . . . what do you talk about most in your family? When you’re driving in your car, sitting at your dinner table, getting ready for bed or kicking off the day, what do you find yourself talking about? The truth is that the things we talk about reveal what we value most and our kids are paying attention.
In their research for Sticky Faith, Kara Powell and Chap Clark polled a group of 11,000 church-going teenagers and asked them how many of them talk with their parents about their faith. They discovered that only 12% (1 out of 8) of those kids talk with their mom about their faith and only 5% (1 out of 20) have regular faith or life conversations with their dads.
The trend tells us that kids who have regular conversations with their parents about their faith are far more likely to stick with their faith when they leave their parents home. We talk about the things we love, the things we value, and our kids are paying attention. They are paying attention to the reality of our lives - our actual values, not just our aspirational values. So how do we keep from ignoring conversations about our faith with our kids and engage instead in meaningful dialogue about matters of life, faith and eternity?
When God was laying out his vision for the family in Deuteronomy 6, His command for us as parents was simple: Love God with everything you’ve got. Jesus reiterated this in Matthew 22 as the greatest commandment in all of Scripture, not that we would follow all the rules or make sure we go to church every weekend, but that we would love God with every ounce of our being.
The key to meaningful, “Sticky Talk," conversations in our families begins with an examination of the love and affection of our own hearts. This may mean a humble confession before God and before our family of ways that our love for God is falling short followed by a courageous step of obedience to grow in our love through private worship, Bible reading, prayer and self-discipline. Deuteronomy 6:6 tells us that these things should be on our hearts so that we can teach these commandments diligently to our children out of the overflow of our love for God. You cannot pass on what you yourself do not possess.
Deuteronomy 6:7 and following goes on to say that we should “impress” these commandments on our children. That word “impress” is defined as “making a mark on an object using a stamp or seal.” Literally, we are commanded to STICK the commandment, to love God with everything we’ve got, to the hearts of our children. How can we do that? Here are three practical ways you can take ground as a parent in this area of “Sticky Talk."
The first key to “Sticky Talk” is the primary principle behind most of our great parenting practices: Be intentional. Intentionally create space in your day for meaningful conversations. This might look like saying no to certain things as a family to ensure that you have regular meal times together with the goal of talking about your faith. This may look like turning off the car radio when your kids are with you so you can ask them about life and how their faith is impacting the way they live. All of this comes back to being thoughtful and intentional to create space in your day for meaningful conversations.
Jesus was so great at this and left us a wealth of examples to follow. He simply looked around at the flowers of the field and the birds of the air and taught his disciples about worry and trusting God. He noticed the sheep in the pastures and the shepherds caring for those sheep and turned it into a lesson about the love that God has for every one of His children and the joy of finding the one who was lost. Pay attention to the world around you and capture moments. Texas thunderstorms are great moments to reflect on the power and protection of the Almighty God. Conflicts with family members and friends are opportunities to talk about the importance of steadfast love and the faithfulness of God to always keep his promises. What moments can you capture with your kids on any given day?
When we think about this word “cultivate”, what is implied is that something must be put in before anything can be taken out. What this means for us as parents is that we shouldn’t always be digging for what our kids are learning about God. Instead, we should be sharing with them what God is teaching us as much as we are asking them what they are learning. Asking what your kids learned at Watermark Kids on any given weekend is a great thing, but when was the last time you shared what you learned from what Todd or JP talked about in “big church”? When was the last time you shared something with your kids that you learned in your own personal time in the Word? Planting comes before harvesting, so plant faith conversations in your family by sharing what God is teaching you.
Our prayer for families here at Watermark is that we will be having regular dialogue about matters of eternal significance and that far more than 12% of moms and dads will be intentionally engaging in these conversations at home. This doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) stuffy or boring. Make it fun, be creative and be excited that we have a God who talks to us through His Word, by His Spirit and through His people.
Significant Summer 2016 is all about “Sticky Talk” and we’ve created 8 weekly challenges through June and July to help you CREATE SPACE, CAPTURE MOMENTS, and CULTIVATE CONVERSATION. If you’re thinking you don’t know where to start, start with those and grow from there. We hope that you will lead out in building a faith for your kids that will stick for a lifetime!