Archive for Saturday, April 4, 2009

Faith Forum: What’s a good way to introduce a child to faith?

April 4, 2009


Kids thrive on variety in education

Gary O’Flannagan, pastor, Cornerstone Southern Baptist Church, 802 W. 22nd St.:

The Bible says in Deuteronomy 11:19, “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

God had Moses teach the people of Israel that as families they were to teach their children the things of God — meaning God’s word, what is called today the Old Testament. God wanted this because he knew they would learn religious teachings from somewhere, usually from the culture they would be living in, which in reality is no help at all for personally knowing and relating to God in a faith relationship.

So I believe that the parents are meant to be the initiators of faith education with their children. After all, they know their children and the stage of development their child is at. The parent also has a connection that outsiders do not have — the family relationship.

Today in the United States, many churches introduce children to faith through small groups such as Sunday school or other children’s programs. The small-group environment allows children to learn about faith incrementally, at a rate that fits their emotional and learning abilities. Children as all people like to learn through a variety of methods and styles, so an organized incremental approach is helpful, meets their educational needs and takes in account the child’s ability to learn.

But the best way to introduce your child to faith is to live your faith openly and honestly, and allow them to learn from you as you exercise your faith. Then they will see if it is truly valid and worthy of acceptance for themselves. Jesus said to his disciples, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).

— Send e-mail to Gary O’Flannagan at

Children learn best by example

Jesse Brinson, youth director at Midwest Student Ministries, 998 N. 1771 Road:

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” When we hear this verse, we may ask ourselves what’s a good way to introduce them to faith. I believe a good way to introduce a child to faith is through ways they can comprehend.

Being a father of one biological 16-month-old son — and with a child on the way — it seems my son wants to do everything I want to do. If I’m on the computer, he wants to be on the computer. If I’m eating Cheerios, he wants to eat Cheerios. If I sit down to read my Bible, he wants to be in my lap ripping pages.

But it’s times like these, when I’m sitting and reading my Bible, that I take the time to introduce him to faith. I begin reading to him the verse I’m reading to not only develop his word vocabulary but also to give him something more valuable. I think one of the best ways a child can comprehend faith is by example. I am setting an example that says he should take the time to discover the God that created him.

As he grows, he is going to ask questions, and his mom and I will make ourselves available to help him discover truth. Does that mean he is going to understand everything I’m saying or doing? No, but my son doesn’t understand the fundamentals of reading when I’m teaching him ABCs or reading to him. He also doesn’t understand the chest pass, but hopefully one day he can lead his team in assists. The point I’m making is he is a child and I’m his parent, if he was born understanding, then he wouldn’t need me as a parent to train and introduce him to faith.

By the way, my son loves carrying his “Read and Learn Bible.”

— Send e-mail to Jesse Brinson at


canyon_wren 9 years, 2 months ago

Marion, I don't usually go to the trouble of commenting on your diatribes because other posters do the job so well, but I simply must say that I think you are full of baloney (I would use a more graphic term, but my post would not be printed!). You are wasting your time talking about things you know nothing about, even though you consider yourself an expert on just about EVERYTHING! You are to be pitied.

Paul R Getto 9 years, 2 months ago

Religion should be an adult choice, not an indoctrination of helpless youth. When kids are young, show them the principles of all the possible religions so they know what is out there; when they grow up, they can choose the one the like best, or choose no religion and go on with their lives.

canyon_wren 9 years, 2 months ago

I agree that children should not be "indoctrinated" and have found, in my experience, that children who are raised in "rabidly religious" families often wind up with no faith at all. However, if a parent IS a believer, he/she has a responsibility to at least share his/her faith with children, realizing that they might choose a different direction. I also am a firm believer in having children grow up with good, factual information about different faiths.

I grew up in a household where faith wasn't important--my father was pretty scornful of "organized" religion and my mother never gave it much thought. I certainly received no indoctrination, whatever, though we were "allowed" to go to Sunday School and/or church if we chose. My "religion" was an adult choice and one I have never regretted. Too often, religious choices that children and teenagers make are the result of peer pressure and are shallow, at best--not much good to them as adults, in the long haul.

viewfromahill 9 years, 2 months ago

"What’s a good way to introduce a child to faith?"

On a hillside.

Stu Clark 9 years, 2 months ago

Islam uses indoctrination with great success. Kids are made to memorize the Koran even before thay know what the words mean. A good example was a quote I remember from an Iraqi insurgent around the time of the first election: "People may choose their government, but to choose their religion? That is against the will of God."

He couldn't remember where his religion came from therefore, it had to be the right one.

Danielle Brunin 9 years, 2 months ago

I don't know, as a second grade Catholic, I was expected to go to confession before I could have my first communion. What in the h@$$ does an 8-year old child have to confess? I hit my brother, didn't listen to my parents, lied about stealing a cookie? I think all religions strive to indoctrinate children and Islam certainly doesn't have the market on that. My son asked who God was the other day and I couldn't bring myself to explain because it seems a shame to ruin his innocence and fill him with guilt at such a young age.

Tom McCune 9 years, 2 months ago

I'm pretty sure the way NOT to introduce a child to faith is by demanding unconditional and unquestioning belief in a document they can find inconsistent by the time they are in middle school. It also doesn't help to load them down with guilt over dogma that few people can understand or agree about.

I have actually known some very good "Sunday schools" that produced some very balanced kids using an approach something like this....

  1. There are lots of different religions in the world. Many of them have wisdom, but of different types.
  2. Quite a few of the world's religions include some information that is factually correct, some that is factually incorrect, and much that is allegorical in nature.
  3. We're going to study and talk about many of the world's religions so you can make an informed choice for yourself when you are older. If you choose ours, terrific. If another one works better for, then you should follow it without coercion or guilt.

Vitruvian 9 years, 2 months ago

"What's a good way to introduce a child to faith?"

Explain to him or her that some people choose to adopt foolish ideas without logical or evidentiary support, and that these rather contemptible individuals will respond with anger or resentment when their fantasies are examined critically.

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