What is Christian Parenting and what makes it unique? In this series we seek to answer that question. Part 1 gives some definitions to consider.
Have you ever visited a church for the first time and gotten totally lost by the in-house jargon? Maybe you’ve had an experience like this:
You walk up to the church’s front door and are greeted by a cheerful volunteer sporting a laminated name tag and a winning smile.
“Hi! Welcome to First Valleytop Holy Gospelfire Community Chapel! After you’ve helped yourself to some coffee, check out our list of SPAMs over by the information table!”
Your head recoils an inch as you try to process what you just heard. “Wait – what?? SPAMs?”
“Oh my gracious, I’m sorry! I forgot not everyone’s heard of them. SPAMs: Spiritual Personal Attentiveness Ministries.”
You respond with a blank stare.
“They’re kind of like home connection groups?…”
You shrug and shake your head helplessly.
“Life groups? Small groups?”
A twinkling of recognition kindles in your brain. “Uhh…sure, ok. That sounds kind of familiar.”
“Great! Just fill out a card over there and be sure to talk about some of the groups with our Children/Youth/Student/Family/College/Young Adult/Singles/Early Career Minister, Brad.”
You thank the volunteer and go find the coffee, fully intent on avoiding SPAMs and Brad.
The tagline of this website is “The Art of Christian Parenting.” I thought it would be wise to avoid the error of First Valleytop and actually define the phrases I’m using instead of assuming that everyone is on the same page. Specifically, I want to take some time to define what “Christian Parenting” actually is.
What does “Christian” Mean?
The label of “Christian” gets plastered to all kinds of things these days. We have Christian music (itself full of subgenera like Christian rock, hip-hop, rap, and metal), Christian books, Christian dating websites, Christian coffee shops, and Christian health insurance companies. I’ve heard America referred to as a “Christian nation” before.
I looked up the word “Christian” on Merriam-Webster and discovered that they have definitions for it both as a noun and as an adjective. Merriam-Webster gives the following definition for “Christian” as a noun: “One who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ.” That’s a pretty good definition. I would go a step further and add that a Christian is someone who has been saved by the grace of God from the power of and punishment for sins and who has placed their faith in Jesus as their Lord and savior.
As an adjective, Merriam-Webster states that “Christian” means:
- Of or relating to Christianity
- Based on or conforming with Christianity
- Of, relating to, or being a Christian
- Professing Christianity
- Treating other people in a kind or generous way
I’d say those definitions are helpful but incomplete. When you dig down into what it means for something to be Christian, you’ll inevitably find something that is founded on trust in Jesus Christ as the one true God, that it is carried out in a manner consistent with what God commands in the Bible and with the character of God as he has revealed himself, and has bringing glory to God as its end goal.
What Does “Parenting” Mean?
Again, let’s consult Merriam-Webster:
1: the raising of a child by its parents
2: the act or process of becoming a parent
3: the taking care of someone in the manner of a parent
I don’t have much to add to that except to add more detail to what it means to raise a child, which we’ll look at later in this series.
“Christian Parenting” Defined
Throughout the Bible we read about God calling his people to live in ways that distinguish them from the rest of the world. If a Christian lives with love for and obedience to God, his life should look different from that of his neighbor who is not a Christian. This pattern will naturally carry over into how Christians raise their children.
So with that, I think there are three areas that distinguish Christian parenting:
Looking at these three areas, I would define Christian parenting like this:
Raising children in a manner that demonstrates trust in Jesus as God, with the aim of glorifying God, and that uses methods that are consistent with the commands and character of God.
We will examine each of these areas in the next three parts of this series. I hope this will benefit you and your family!
Part 2 coming soon!