Parents nationwide are consumed with the reality that their sons and daughters are not holding onto their faith in Christ past high school. As a result they are losing their faith at college in record numbers and not returning to our churches, or any church for that matter.
Co-authors Kara Powell & Brad Griffin of the book Sticky Faith suggest investing in journeying with students through the transition years of middle school and beyond, in other words long before they graduate. Parents and churches that intentionally make this investment are changing such statistics, one life at a time. George Barna in his book Revolutionary Parenting amplifies the same thoughts regarding passing our faith to our children by first modeling their faith to them. Enter Deut. 6:5-9…
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Using God’s word as our parental blueprint and gleaning from Sticky Faith and Barna’s Revolutionary Parenting, we discover that all three references point us to the same conclusion. You cannot give to your children what you yourself do not have. Helping parents grow and express their faith alongside their children is the genesis of Amor’s Mexico Family Camp. Family Camp provides parents an opportunity to build homes in Jesus' name alongside a family in need. Research on spiritual formation in our children reveals that a faith that is going to last a lifetime is “pretty much won or lost by age thirteen.” (Revolutionary Parenting: Raising Your Kids to Become Spiritual Champions, p. xvi) Amor’s Family Camp assists parents in raising spiritual champions. Here are a few principles from Family Camp that will help you as parents, or grandparents, to pass your faith on to your children or grandchildren. These principles will help them “stick” and your faith will become their faith. And Family Camp is one experience that will assist you in this all important job.First of all, it is about you living out your faith. I have heard it said that “you teach what you know but reproduce what you are.” You need to be living out your faith. Provide opportunities to live out your faith together so your children can experience Jesus on their own.
There is no substitute for a side by side, life on life opportunity with your kids to provide a home for another family in Jesus' name. This is why Family Camp’s motto is “Families Building Homes, Homes Building Families.” On top of the home building, each evening we have extended time together in active worship. Research reminds us that children who continue in the faith are those who see real worship modeled before their eyes by their parents. Our worship time leaves a lasting impression on kids .
Another part of the spiritual formation of a child is expressing spiritual disciplines (prayer, bible study, meditation, fasting, actions that draw you closer to God). As parents we must look for ways to develop authentic spiritual disciplines in our children. Amor’s Family Camp provides daily opportunities to do this through family devotions, prayer times, evening worship, and family friendly application Bible study. Returning parents tell us how Family Camp has proven to be a great asset in teaching their children how to pray and be excited about applying God’s Word to their lives. Spiritual disciplines become part of the fabric of their families. Family Camp helps parents stay on course with the parenting goals of Deut. 6:5-9. Family Camp Nothing replaces lots of time together. There has been a lot of research in recent years that turns the paradigm of “quality time” (just planning special times together) on its head.
Family Camp intentionally affords you large quantities of time with your children. You camp out in the same tent. You build homes side by side. You serve together in our daily VBS program in the community. You take part in daily family and group devotions together, campfires together, worship together, share your meals together, play games together, share talents in our annual “Mexican Idol” together, “party” together, laugh together (getting the idea?), etc., etc. At Family Camp we make time with your kids the “default mode” for the entire week. We find that kids do things with their parents at Family Camp that they would never do at home. This helps build an enduring relationship with your kids, built on love and trust that will translate into a new normal back home. You are creating memories that will last a life time.
We find that kids interact with their parents at Family Camp in a way that they would never do at home
Another important piece in raising a spiritual champion is teaching moral character (integrity, honesty, respect, courage, self-control, responsibility, compassion, etc.). Most character training happens in daily conversations as you walk along the road. Again this is the biblical life lesson of Deut. 6:5-9. Family Camp causes families to talk through how they are going to make a difference in their own neighborhood and community once they are home. We have a number of testimonies from families of how they freed up resources to make an eternal difference in the lives of others locally. Families have sold all kinds of big ticket toys, cars, and even homes to do this. Family Camp helps you integrate God-talk into daily life. Showing your kids how the Bible teaches us that everything belongs to God and how we are to be the stewards of all of it. Family Camp sets your family up for wins by moving your talk to your walk back home. My son Luke said “Family Camp has helped me develop a heart for missions and the poor. It has affected what I want to do in the future.”
And lastly, prayer is vital, indispensable. Godly parents know only God can really change their children’s hearts, (I Corinthians 3:6). That is why they pray regularly for them. At Family Camp we literally start our first worship service with a time of prayer giving our parents an opportunity to pray over their own children to dedicate their week of service to God together. We also set a prayer alarm that goes off a few times during the day to remind us to stop everything for a minute and pray for each other and the Mexican family we are building with.
During Family Camp we ask God to help us live out His will for the sake of others every moment of the week. Prayer is essential to our faith and the faith of our children. Why in the endless sea of parenting resources out there, we recommend Family Camp?
It combines for parents numerous Deut 6:5-9 moments and faith modeling experiences that our kids need for spiritual formation to make it “stick.” Parents would be hard pressed to find this combination anywhere else in a time frame of just one week.
A Pastor in the UK and past Family Camp participant has said that “one week of Family Camp is like a year’s worth of Sunday school in the spiritual life of a Family”.