The Bible tells us to train up our children in the way they should go, and when they are older, they will not depart from that training (Proverbs 22:6). Meanwhile, that is not the only Bible verse on this topic. There are many verses on fathers being the spiritual leader of the home, including Ephesians 6:4. That verse tells fathers to bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Regardless, even if there was only one Bible verse on fatherhood, no one can deny that it takes time to ‘train’ or ‘bring up their children.’
Training is something that is done over time because it takes time for someone to learn whatever it is that you are trying to pass on to another individual. This means that fathers need to be consistent, and consistency is very important according to Chelsen Vicari, Evangelical Program Director at the Institute on Religion and Democracy.
“Consistency and mentorship and discipleship and leadership are all key when it comes to raising up the next generation of Christians,” says Vicari. She adds that, right now, America’s youth inside and outside the church needs leadership. “There is a dangerous threat going on within the walls of our church as well as within culture and that danger is there is a distorted liberal theology prevalent in the church that is breaking down the moral values outlined in scripture,” says Vicari. She believes that this is causing a lot of confusion among youth. “It’s also encouraging young Christians to even deny Judeo-Christian principles that were used to establish this just and prosperous nation,” says Vicari. If the brakes are not applied immediately to what Vicari calls a watered-down version of the Gospel by faithful Christian leaders who are already raising the next generation of Christians, then the next generation is on track to abandon those moral foundations and most importantly the courage that it takes to spread the Gospel uncompromised.
One might think that Christians are more consistent than others when it comes to teaching their children what they believe and why, but a 2013 study from Barna Group finds consistency to be lacking, especially in the homes of pastors. Vicari mentions the research in her book Distortion: How the New Christian Left Is Twisting the Gospel and Damaging the Faith. “40 percent of pastors’ kids have gone through a period where they were questioning their faith and then 33 percent of pastors’ kids said that they were not longer active in church,” says Vicari. “7 percent of pastors’ kids said that they were no longer even considering themselves Christians.” Sadly, a lack of consistency and one-on-one time were found to be contributors to the problem. “You can be a wonderful leader in your church, but if it’s not being done at your home where your kids are watching you live out your faith then it’s not going to encourage them to do the same,” says Vicari.
Speaking of living out your faith, Vicari recommends Christians do in-home Bible studies with their family. Do not just leave it to Sunday school teachers. “This is a major problem and I think often times that parents, unfortunately, are using Sunday school the same way that they use basketball practice or ballet practice,” says Vicari. “You drop your kids off and you pick them up an hour later and you hope they learned something.”
Someone reading this may say, ‘Well, my kids are grown and living on their own.’ That does not mean dads cannot keep tabs on their children. “College students are being bombarded with misleading buzzwords like tolerance and compassion and coexisting,” says Vicari. Speaking from her own experience, Vicari says Christian college students are learning fast that living out these actions of compassion, coexisting and tolerance means that you suppress your faith for the sake of others’ feelings because being politically correct is now first and foremost the most important thing on campus. As a result, Vicari urges parents to stay in contact regularly and remind their adult children not to mistake compassion for the acceptance of things. “We are not loving our neighbors when we twist the Gospel for the sake of others’ feelings,” says Vicari. “We are risking distorting the truth and we’re also keeping the transformative love of Christ secret when we compromise His truth. “
So, there you have it, dads. Be consistent. Lead. If you do not, others will and they may not be Christians. The future of the church and our country depends on you.
“And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 KJV).”