Today we’re hearing from Adam Stadtmiller. Adam is Calvary Chapel pastor and author with Gospel Light publications. Adam has written two books on parental discipleship (Give Your Kids The Keys 2011 and Discover Your Kid’s Spiritual Gifts 2012). Adam also writes for Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal. He and his wife Karie have two daughters Lily Kate (10) and Lucy Joy (5). You can find out more about Adam’s writings at giveyourkidsthekeys.com.
We asked Adam to share some insight about the role that parents and kidmin leaders play in the spiritual development of children. How can they encourage children? How do they hinder them? Here’s what he shared with us:
One of the Devil’s most effective family strategies is convincing parents that their children’s faith does not matter. Sure, Christian parents know it matters in the long run, but few act as if their believing children are fully Christian in the now. This is a lethal spiritual error.
When parents don’t value the faith of a child in the same way Jesus does in Matthew 19, identifying even small children as kingdom bringers, parents actually destabilize their children’s faith.
Some of the most common ways parents do this is by doubting that their small children’s early profession of faith in Jesus were authentic, wanting to wait until the child is little older before validating it as real. Another way parents minimize the faith of their child is by not offering to them the entire playing field of Christian ministry. Here’s what I mean.
There is no such thing as a child-sized portion of the Holy Spirit. Children have access to the exact same amount of revelation and power as adults. Their prayers for the sick are just as, if not more powerful than those of adults, their acts of service equally profound. Scriptural examples like David, who led a nation in war as a young boy, or Samuel who became the mouthpiece of God for the people of Israel before becoming a teenager confirm this.
Judging a child’s salvation, based on their cognitive ability is not only foolish, but also antithetical to scripture. Yes, the mind is important in our faith, but the starting point for salvation begins in the heart, the mind being transformed as a result. Ephesians 3:14-19 displays this progression of faith from heart to mind. Be sure of this, if you as a parent invalidate the faith of your child, he or she also will doubt its credibility and perhaps abandon it all together.
Another key stumbling block for parents is telling their children all about ministry but never letting them participate in it. The Bible tells us that all believers, this includes believing children, have at least one spiritual gift and that this gift is to be used in ministry. This means that if your child has made a confession of faith, he or she is equipped and able to be in ministry in the place God has put him or her. This includes a sandbox or Girl Scout troop. Here again, the mandates of Scripture apply to all believers, not just ones over the age of 18. Still, most parents have no idea as to what their own spiritual gifts are, let alone those of their children.
In the end it comes down to an issue of discipleship. Too often we leave discipleship to the Jr. High years or beyond if ever at all. Instead of letting our kids be Christians now, we tell them about Jesus, but rarely let them get their hands and feet dirty for Him. Yes, the way in which children minister will be very different from those of an adult, but they are called to minister nonetheless.
As a parent, you need to answer this one question. Am I truly validating my child’s faith, or am I waiting until some magical age based in my own understanding, before I let my children know the living Christ in more than just word, but also deed.
God is looking for the next Samuel, Mary or David to impact this world with the message of His love. God is also looking for parents who recognize the workings of God in their child and disciple them into their potential. Who knows? Maybe your child is the next one who will lead a nation.