How can Christian parents pass on the faith to their kids?

Andy Frost with his daughters having fun in the Lake District.

In 2018, research by Care for the Family found that only half of the children brought up in Christian homes still follow the faith in their adulthood. 

What's more, a staggering 92 per cent felt they should be doing more to teach their children about the Christian faith. 

The Kitchen Table Project was borne out of this research to equip and support parents, and raise awareness of their key role as the biggest influences on their children's faith.

Andy Frost, CEO of Share Jesus International, has written his new book, '52 Faith Adventures', as part of the Kitchen Table Project to help dads in particular share their faith with their children. 

It centres on making memories and creating moments, through fun, creativity and adventure, for dads to share their experience of God.

Andy speaks to Christian Today about this approach to parenting and why he believes it has a crucial role to play in helping children develop a faith that lasts. 

CT: Research from Care for the Family has shown that only 50 per cent of children brought up in Christian families are still Christians as adults. Why do you think we are struggling in this area?

Andy: I think part of it is that we live in a culture where parents look to specialists. So if, for example, we want our child to learn football or ballet, we look for a professional to teach them.

Likewise in the Church, we have paid professionals teaching our children on Sunday mornings. They do it for us and it's almost as if we've delegated that role to them. But with Covid over the last 18 months, we've seen what happens when that children's work is disrupted, and we've seen the importance of the home and what is being instilled by parents.

There's a challenge there to rediscover the role that parents have, and for churches to support parents in this role of nurturing faith in the home.

Moments of adventure are also moments to talk about God, says Andy.

CT: Do you think there is perhaps a lack of confidence among Christian parents?

Andy: I think there are a few things going on. One is that parents can feel that they have to have the perfect lifestyle in order to be able to share their faith with their children, and of course our kids are so aware of the mistakes we make that we can be afraid to get it wrong!

There can also be concerns about what questions our kids might ask, and I think we don't want to force our faith on our kids so there can be a sense of 'well, I don't want to do anything at all because I might get it wrong'. It's about getting that balance right.

CT: Your own father was the late Rob Frost, a much-loved and respected evangelist. Do you have any particular memories of growing up with him as a role model and it shaping your own faith?

Andy: Yes, I mean, it wasn't always easy with my dad. Because of his ministry, he travelled a lot and I remember in my teen years having a difficult relationship with him, but it all got resolved in the end and we became very close.

One memory that stands out in my mind is my dad trying to do a family devotional with us each morning and it just completely backfired - what with the stress of school in the morning, it was too much, and my brother and I just weren't keen at all!

But what he was great at was demonstrating in his life what it meant to be a Christian, and this was something he often modelled to me through adventure. It was when we were out and about doing things that he would share Bible stories and I vividly remember one time looking up at the night sky together. He was telling the story of the shepherds and angels, and marvelling at how we were looking up at the very same stars they would have seen 2,000 years ago. He was able to put Bible stories into context like that, and hearing these stories when we were out and about together was a really powerful moment for me in my own Christian journey.

CT: What's the motivation for the book?

Andy: I think sometimes in the Church, we can be quite academic and intellectual, and classroom-based in our approach. One of the reasons for this book is to give the Church some ideas about how we can explore the Christian faith in ways that are much more practical and experiential, rather than just conceptual.

For Andy, adventures create space to talk about Bible stories.

CT: Is it based on your own experience with your two young daughters? Do you find this approach resonates with them?

Andy: They love it and they often tell their friends about it too. It's about creating quality moments with our kids so I will always try and take a photograph while we're out on one of our adventures so that there's a memory there that they can attach to the experience and they can remember spending time with their dad. It also helps to create a space to talk about Bible stories.

What I ideally want is for our home to be a place where our kids talk about God whenever, so that they don't see faith as something that is confined to Sunday morning but rather as something that is infused into all aspects of our lives. These adventures have helped to consolidate that idea of making faith integral to everything that we do.

CT: It's Father's Day on Sunday. What word of encouragement would you give to dads out there trying to be good fathers as well as role models in the faith for their kids?

Andy: First of all, there's a real pressure on men today to be 'super dads' - doing everything right and perfectly, and being an expert in woodwork and tech and sports! We can't do it all so it's about knowing what we want to pass on to our kids and why, and then being intentional about those things.

For me, what's important is having adventures in very practical ways, setting some time aside for the kids, and speaking about faith in a way that's much more tangible.

Finally, I would say that as we pray for our kids it's important to remember that ultimately God loves our children more than we do and God is even more committed to our children than we are. So even as we're thinking about how we pass on our faith, it's important to remember that it's a God thing rather than a human thing and we are just playing our part in passing on that faith.