The Ultimate Home Group

Pass On the Faith

Parenting is hard. It requires so much of our energy, time, sleep, money, and personal freedom that we often focus more on getting through the day than building into the faith of our children. What if we thought more long-term than immediate? What if we chose something better instead of what's easy? What if we were more intentional about passing on our faith? In two interview-style videos from The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference, Lauren Hansen sits down Jen Wilkin to talk about Christian parenting and then Mark Mellinger sits down with Kathleen Nielson and Don Carson to talk about how to pass on genuine faith to the next generation.

Jen Wilkin is an author and leads women’s Bible studies at The Village Church in Dallas. Kathleen Nielson is an author and the Director of Women's Initiatives for The Gospel Coalition. Don is a New Testament scholar and professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is also the co-founder and president of The Gospel Coalition and author of numerous books. 

Jen said because moral development begins around 18 months and is set by age 11, we should think long-term about who we want our children to be as adolescents and set their moral framework early. 

Does this statistic surprise you? Why or why not? If you have young children, what kind of people do you want them to be as adolescents? How are you shaping their moral behavior now?
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If you already have adolescents, describe some of their behaviors that are representative of things you taught them at an early age. Do you wish you had done anything different? Why or why not?
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Jen said, “We see [children] as a responsibility…a financial obligation…someone that interrupts our personal freedoms, but sometimes we need to be reminded that they are our neighbors. These little children living in our home are the very closest neighbors the Lord has called us to love and serve.” 

We often consider "neighbors" as strangers or others outside of our family, but Jen reminds us that every person God puts in our path—even our children who walk the path with us—are our neighbors whom Jesus calls us to love and serve generously (Luke 10:25–37). 

When do your children feel most like a burden or interruption? How might it help you see them as the closest neighbors you are called to not only love, but also serve? Why? In what ways do you serve your children?
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Jen said, “Our family is the ultimate home group…. What we try to make primary as parents is that we love the Lord and are called to community…we put that imprint on our family and any other decision we make is filtered though that: Will this bring us together or tear us apart?" 

What do you make “primary" in your home and how does that guide your decision making? Share one difficult decision you made for your family in the past year. Why was it difficult? How has it benefited your family?
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In what ways is your family like the ultimate small group? What does intentional community look like? What language and expectations do you all share?
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Jen talked about the importance of confession and repentance in parenting. What does this look like for you? How have failures drawn you to the Lord? How has repentance moved you toward a more healthy home environment?
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Jen shared practical ways to approach parenting as a Christian. In this video, Mark Mellinger sits down with Kathleen Nielson and Don Carson to talk about intentional ways to pass on genuine faith to our children and those younger in the faith.

In what ways does your church equip and encourage you to pass on your faith to your children and those younger in the faith? What does mentoring look like at your church?
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Both Kathleen and Don remember their dads having a formative influence on their faith at an early age. Who was most formative in your own life and why? What did discipleship look like?
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Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (ESV)

4“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.5You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.6And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

In what ways do you make an intentional effort to pass on your faith to your children? How do you keep the Word part of your daily rhythm? How else could you carry it with you?
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Parenting will look different from family to family—cloth vs. disposable, public vs. private, spanking vs. timeout—but building a foundation for our children to know and love Christ should be central to all of our homes. May we be faithful to teach our children the gospel through our words and actions, trusting the Lord to move in their hearts.

To learn more about The Gospel Coalition, click here.