Christian Parenting on Offense

On every football team, there is an offense and a defense. Successful teams usually have an offense and defense that are both strong. If they have a strong defense but no offense, they will still lose because they fail to score. If the coach is so fearful of the other team scoring that he only focuses on defense, his team will rarely be successful.

Christian parenting can be like football. We can become so concerned with protecting our children from the evil in the world, that we forget to prepare them to go on offense against that evil. Don’t get me wrong. A strong defense is crucial in Christian parenting. (In fact, many parents need to work on strengthening their defense, too.) From a child’s – and especially a teen’s viewpoint – Christian parenting that is only defense appears very negative and restrictive. It’s unbalanced with the positiveness of also parenting for offense. No wonder many young people view Christianity as a never ending list of don’ts and can’ts.

When you also Christian parent on the offense, your parenting is more balanced and your kids get a healthier, more accurate view of the Christian life. So what elements are included in a Christian parenting offense?

  • Preparation to explain their beliefs in ways that can be heard. Christian parenting offense means your kids are equipped to answer questions others may ask about their beliefs. They don’t have to know all of the answers, but they should feel comfortable answering common questions. They should also know how to find accurate, biblical answers when they don’t know them. Apologetics materials can help you teach and train your children in this area. Remember, their answers should always be given with love, even when sharing hard truths.
  • Preparation to ask questions that build relationships and open doors to faith sharing and service. Some children will learn this skill more easily than others, but even the most introverted child should be able to carry on a friendly, bridge building conversation.
  • Gift discovery, development and use. Every child has at least one concrete gift God has given them to serve God. For some children, this talent (don’t worry about spiritual gifts for now, focus on concrete talents) is easily identified. For others, it may take experimenting with several possible talents before finding the ones God gave them. Help your children discover these gifts and find ways to not only develop them, but also use them to serve God… NOW.
  • Preparation for sharing their faith. Do your children know the overarching story of the Bible? Can they explain why Jesus needed to come to Earth? Can they sketch out the life of Jesus? Are they able to explain in detail the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus? Can they explain what someone needs to do to become a Christian? Are they able to explain what a disciple of Christ living a Christian life “looks like”? Can they explain the positive difference being a Christian has made in their lives?
  • Ability to discern the felt needs of others and find ways to serve them (while also sharing their faith or strengthening the person’s faith). Many Christians are like the priest in the story of the Good Samaritan… they either block out or choose not to notice when others are in need. But truly serving others requires discernment as well as noticing needs. What people think they need and what they really need may be very different indeed. Your children need to be the ones who notice needs and find ways for those people to be served. They may not be able to meet each need personally, but they need to know how to partner with others in their congregation to get the needs of others met.
  • Practice in spiritual disciplines. For your children to be healthy spiritually, they need to regularly engage in prayer, Bible study, Christian fellowship, scripture refection and more. Don’t make them sound like chores, but activities that will help them reach the full potential God gave them.
  • Development of a passion for fulfilling their mission from God. Passion can’t be taught, but it can be caught. If you are passionate about serving God, worshipping and obeying Him, serving others and sharing your faith, your children are very likely to catch that passion, too.

Have you been playing only defense in your Christian parenting? It’s time to add some offense to your coaching. It can make a huge difference in the Christians your children become.

Published by

Thereasa Winnett

Thereasa Winnett is the founder of Teach One Reach One and blogger at Parenting Like Hannah. She holds a BA in education from the College of William and Mary. She has served in all areas of ministry to children and teens for more than thirty years and regularly leads workshops for ministries and churches. She has conducted numerous workshops, including sessions at Points of Light’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service, the National Urban Ministry Conference, Pepperdine Bible Lectures, and Lipscomb’s Summer Celebration. Thereasa lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Greg, where she enjoys reading, knitting, traveling and cooking.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.