The Number One Sign Your Kids Are Just Borrowing Your Faith (and Not Developing Their Own)

The Number One Sign Your Kids Are Just Borrowing Your Faith

The other day something reminded me of the popular 1993 book, “The Celestine Prophecy” (anyone remember that?). “The Celestine Prophecy” is a fiction book that discusses ideas rooted in New Age spirituality. The book sold 20 million copies and practically spawned its own cult-like religion, with groups popping up all over the country to study the insights and apply them to life.

I discovered this book when I was fresh out of high school and was enamored by it. The insights were exciting (“there’s a reason for every apparent coincidence!”) and it proposed interesting ideas about spirituality that seemed totally plausible to my young mind. I couldn’t stop talking about it. I told all my friends about it. I started paying attention to how the nine insights in the book applied to my life. I suddenly felt life was more meaningful.

The problem? I was a “Christian” but it never even occurred to me that these New Age ideas should have been immediately rendered false by the beliefs I claimed to have. My faith was so shallow that the first exciting philosophy I encountered after high school swept me off my feet – without so much as an inkling that it was in conflict with everything I had been taught.

When I randomly remembered this book last week, I marveled at how I had developed such a shallow faith, despite the fact I had gone to church for 18 years and grew up surrounded by family members who deeply loved the Lord.

A Borrowed Faith

In my family, faith looked like spiritual “parallel play.” Parallel play is the stage young toddlers go through where they enjoy being near other kids, but don’t actually interact with each other yet. They’ll play blocks side by side, but they won’t find ways to play blocks together.

My family members would individually read their Bibles, go to church every week, participate in prayer chains, and humbly remind each other that plans would only happen “Lord willing.”  Those were the spiritual blocks they played with next to me.

Meanwhile, I went to church, was at least mildly interested in what I heard, felt confident that if I died I would be saved, prayed occasionally on my own, went to church camps, attended youth nights, and freely told anyone who asked that I was a Christian. Those were the spiritual blocks I played with next to them.

But we never spiritually played together. Without that deeper engagement, my faith simply remained shallow and was based on living out a copy of what those around me were doing.

I left home with a completely borrowed faith.

I had never made it my own, but not because I rejected it in any way.

Many parents are brokenhearted when their kids reject Christianity in the teen years. I would suggest that many other parents are lulled into a false sense of security when their kids appear to toe the line of faith until they leave home. That faith often amounts to little more than borrowed beliefs which will soon be shattered.

Make no mistake: a borrowed faith leaving home can be just as dangerous as a broken faith. The result is often the same, just delayed.

When I originally started this post, I planned to call it, “10 Signs Your Kids are Just Borrowing Your Faith.” As I thought through the signs I can see in retrospect from my own experience, however, I found they all really pointed back to just one sign. So here it is:

The number one sign your kids are just borrowing your faith is that they rarely, if ever, ask questions.

Why Aren’t They Asking Questions?

  • They may be just uninterested enough to not ask questions, but not so uninterested as to reject Christianity altogether. They’ll just borrow your faith for a while because that’s what’s in front of them on the buffet.
  • They may not yet see the importance of Christian belief in their lives. It’s perceived as just another subject they’re learning about, like math. They’ll just borrow your faith for a while because they don’t think it’s important enough to think more deeply about.
  • They may not have been exposed to enough non-Christian ideas yet. Their faith isn’t being challenged in preparation for the adult world. Challenge them. If you don’t, non-believers soon will. They’ll just borrow your faith for a while because they see no need not to.
  • They may be scared or uncertain of your reaction. They’ll just borrow your faith for a while because that’s what they think is expected of them.
  • They may be getting answers elsewhere – usually not the answers you’d like them to have. They’ll just borrow your faith for a while because they don’t want to rock the boat at home.

If your kids aren’t asking questions, start asking THEM questions. Open the door for the conversation yourself and get them thinking in ways that will ultimately allow them to own their faith.

Need some ideas for meaty topics? Check out the conversations in my books here.

Did YOU leave home with a borrowed faith? Why or why not? I’d love to hear your experiences.

63 thoughts on “The Number One Sign Your Kids Are Just Borrowing Your Faith (and Not Developing Their Own)”

  1. This is great Nathasha. You and I often think of the same things at the same time. I’m going to blog on this idea in the near future too! I have been thinking about how to make sure this kind of questioning happens at home too. And, for parents who are purposeful, the challenge also will be to not drown the questions in sermon sized answers. Greg Koukl’s Tactics (see the book and DVD and CD of the same name) are a good reminder that people need to come to conclusions themselves rather than be ‘told’ the answers to their questions. I’ll talk more about it in my post coming eventually!


    1. Thanks Jen! I look forward to checking out your posts on this topic too! I agree we can’t have sermon-sized answers. Our approach is an important part of being effective.

  2. Perfect timing for this article. I am in the middle of teaching an adult Sunday school class on this very subject! Right now I’m teaching it to parents of 2nd generation Christian kids (but there are 2 college age kids in there). And next time I will push for it to be taught to the teens in our church. This is SUCH an important subject!! I don’t think this subject was really thought of (my guess) until very recently. Not alot of books on the subject. One thing I am telling my parent/students is to be approachable when and if kids have questions. And not to freak out on their kids if they do sin or want to talk about why they still sin. One thing we noticed in our church is that the kids are not getting their tough questions answered. I think it’s very very important to be ready to answer the questions they have and not just think that someone at church will answer them. Because that may not happen and kids will get frustrated and they could very well “chuck” the whole Christianity thing if they don’t feel like they can ask honest questions and get them answered.

    Thanks for writing on this subject! I will relay it to my Sunday school class!!!

    Maybe another subject to think about writing an article about (hint, hint) is how to deal with husbands and/or wives who appear to be borrowing their faith? How a spouse can encourage them to grow their faith!

    1. Thank you Andrea! I’m so glad this was helpful to you at this particular time. You are doing such important work in your church. It’s great to hear about your passion for helping kids get their tough questions answered! As you said, it’s SUCH an important subject.

      Thanks for the great post idea also – I love it!

  3. I grew up Catholic. I felt that Jesus loved me, but God the Father scared me. Made me feel guilty – inadequate. I too read “The Celestine Prophecy”, and felt the attraction of the new aged beliefs. I continued to attend church off and on through my 20’s and early 30’s, but my depth of conviction never went beyond guilt. I wasn’t until a personal crisis – divorce after 15 years, a divorce I never wanted! – that I ever “heard” that I was saved by God’s grace, not through confession or penance. I actually stayed after my bible study that day, and asked my pastor to repeat what he had said. That was the beginning of a whole new faith for me – on based on God’s un-ending love for me, and my desperate desire to show my love and thanks to Him; as if He were my husband. Today I am re-married to a wonderful man, who loves God, and together we try and teach our children – and the class we teach – to create their OWN faith.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Danyel. I bet the Celestine Prophecy impacted a lot of Christians when it came out – it probably still does! I was astounded to see that it’s still very popular today. It’s beautiful to see that despite your difficult divorce you were able to come out with a stronger and more deeply owned faith. Your kids will benefit so much from your experiences now!

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  5. My faith became my own in college when I discovered that the guy I had been dating for a significant amount of time did not believe in the Trinity. So, I had to find out what I believed. I’m working through some apologetic stuff with my son. We have some good discussions.

    1. It’s amazing how dating can bring those questions to light, isn’t it? I love hearing that you’re working through apologetics with your son. If you have recommendations for great resources, please comment back!

      1. We’ve gone through Case for Christ the student addition. I had read the adult one and feel that the student one was great for my son (age almost 11) although we did look up some of the verses in a different version. Right now we are going through “Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door.” I’m planning also to go through Case for Creator and Case for Faith. We are also reading through and discussing the book of Matthew. We are reading Answers for Kids with younger brother (he’s 8). He loves them. I’m relatively new to your site and can’t wait to poke around some more.

  6. I saw this article on which linked here. It’s an excellent article that I shared on our Facebook page.

    My wife and I have 9 children (#10 due any time). Some of them don’t ask questions, so I appreciate the challenge. We do ask them questions during our family devotion time each day, but we are going to try harder to instill our faith into them so that they embrace it themselves. Thanks for writing this. God bless you.

    1. Wow, Paul – 10 kids! That is amazing…you’ll have 10 times the questions to answer. 🙂 I’m so blessed by the comment that this has encouraged you to focus on helping your kids embrace their own faith. Thanks so much for sharing!

  7. This was very helpful. I think sometimes we focus on making the “apple” shine on the outside but forget about the core. We need to not be content with how our children act but also how they think.

    1. Hi Maria, Can you tell me more about what you would like more info on? Christianity? The blog? Something else? I’m happy to help you if I better understand what you’re looking for. Thanks!

  8. My mom and I were both first generation Christians. I think one of the reasons that it wasn’t a borrowed faith is because it was challenged by a close relative very quickly. And I had to make some choices about who I was following and what I believed. It was about my relationship with him, not a family culture or the thing we jsut did. One of my fears about having second generation Christians growing up in my home is that they would not have an awe of God.
    Excellent article. Thank you

    1. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Monique! Being challenged by a close relative is no doubt a major way of bringing those questions to light. You have a unique perspective to give your kids now and can help develop that sense of awe in them. I agree that second generation Christians can easily miss that! Great point.

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  10. 12 years of Catholic school…I asked questions of my teachers on junior high. “God works in mysterious ways,” was quite often the answer. Sometimes I was mild criticized for questioning faith, God, Jesus, the bible. So in junior high I began my path toward atheism. 25 years later…still no answers beyond “God works in mysterious ways.” Many of my friends are Christian, Muslim, gnostic, so the topic of my atheism is randomly brought up once in a while. I’m interested in reading th link “65 questions…”

    1. Hi Leigh, I heard that God works in mysterious ways more times than I can count too. 🙂 Thanks so much for commenting. While God’s ways ARE often “mysterious” from our perspective, that answer typically betrays an intellectually shallow faith. Unfortunately, many Christians continue to borrow their faith into adulthood and can’t offer satisfying answers to tough questions. That doesn’t mean CHRISTIANITY doesn’t offer robust, intellectually satisfying answers – just that many Christians can’t articulate the reasons for their own faith. That’s why I believe apologetics is so important. I hope you’ll enjoy the list of 65 questions. Perhaps you’ll see many on there that have troubled you. If you’re interested in seeing my answers, please sign up for the email list. I promise you’ll never see a flippant “God just works in mysterious ways.” 🙂

  11. Enjoyed the article and the challenge!
    I was raised in a Christian family much like you described. By God’s grace I was saved at 15 yrs of age before I left the home. I had been content borrowing my faith until one night when I knew my prayers weren’t getting past the ceiling of my bedroom because I did not know the savior I was praying to personally.

    I had asked my dad only one significant question while growing up: ‘how do you know if you are a Christian?’ – He was not really prepared to answer when I asked (I was only 7) , and I honestly don’t remember exactly what he said. From that time till my conversion at 15 – I assumed I was a Christian because there never really was much challenge. Upon conversion however, (or right around that time) there was a tremendous amount of challenge, and all my spiritual borrowing turned into powerful conviction I WAS A SINNER! Christ was my only hope. It was not an intellectual dilemma, but a moral one. One that was stewing in me unawares.

    I am trying to challenge my four girls with questions that will produce the same moral dilemma for which Christ is the only answer, but find it difficult to speak to the heart of a child still learning to play with spiritual blocks. I am thankful for God’s pursuit of me – when my dad was not sure how to challenge me. I am also thankful that my dad never stopped talking about his faith which was so clearly a driving force in his life even when no one was looking. Those truths together settle my heart down when thinking about my kids.

    I guess the take away for me is that challenging my kids takes the hard work of consistent faith presentation (walking and living faithfully) as well as the critical thinking questions. The tools as well as the project if you will.

    1. Hi Drew, that is a great summary – we have to do the hard work of both consistent faith presentation and stimulating critical thought. Thanks so much for sharing your story. It sounds like that was a really powerful moment of conviction! I love hearing experiences like that.

      I think the challenge today of producing the moral dilemma is that our society is increasingly teaching moral relativism – that there are NO objective moral standards! If kids find that argument compelling (“what’s true for you is true”), they will have no interest in finding a solution to their fallen morality. They won’t believe there is a moral standard to fall from! So there is actually a preparatory project here: convicting our kids of objective morality. That’s a bit of an aside, but your experience brought that to mind. Thanks for sharing!

  12. I grew up in an active Christian home. We attended church three times per week, plus all special meetings. I attended a Christian School for 12 years, but I ALMOST left home with a borrowed faith. I knew all the facts that had been taught to me by parents, pastors, and teachers, but it just did not pass my “So what?” test. After graduating from H.S., I began working, but still living at home. I did read a chapter of Proverbs every morning, but it was more of a feel-good thing with no sense of real need for the word of God. I was 18 years old.

    Once I got into the workplace, I was shoulder to shoulder with all sorts of beliefs. A beautiful young girl, who was a cultist, caught my attention, but I soon discovered she did not believe in Hell, eternal suffering, or salvation by grace through faith.
    I debated her a couple of times before some life-changing thoughts hit me:

    “What makes her to be wrong, and me to be right? Our upbringing? Our parents? Our school? Our church? What if she is truly right about these things? Am I right simply because I believe what I was taught?”

    Those thoughts shook me up. I went home that day and began systematically reading, searching, and studying my Bible. I did not tell my parents and pastor that I was comparing the word of God to EVERYTHING they had taught me!
    I was determined to know what the Bible SAID; not just what somebody affirmed that it TAUGHT. Well, days turned into weeks, and eventually years.
    My faith went from “borrowed” to “blooming” to “bursting”. That was 29 years ago. I am thankful for the word of God, which has all the answers. But I am also thankful for a pretty little adversary that God put in my path, which drove me to God’s word; the word of his grace, which is able to build us up!

  13. Thank you for this insightful article. As a youth leader I’ve observed this condition, but I’ve never been able to completely wrap my brain around it. Your blog has given me a lot to think about.

  14. I hope no one is unduly upset by this, but one reason I’m no longer a Christian is because the answers and arguments provided by apologists to my questions were NOT satisfying. For example, many of the arguments could be made in support of other religions (Who would die for a lie? I don’t know, but lots of people have died for false beliefs they thought were true), or they employ logical fallacies (like the “Liar, Lunatic, or Lord” false trilemma of C.S. Lewis). Books like Strobel’s are disingenuous in that they claim to be hard-hitting investigative accounts but in reality they are incredibly one-sided: one group of conservative Christian apologists being interviewed by–another conservative Christian apologist. When doubt is maligned (by Jesus!), it’s hard to honestly comb through Christian arguments for problems. I read tons of apologetics as a teen, and they all made sense until I REALLY started to look at the faith critically as an educated adult. “Test everything–hold on to the good”, was a verse I memorized as a kid. I did exactly that and didn’t find a whole lot of good to hold onto. A faith which is fine with doubt only as long as the doubt is aimed at other faiths needs all the more scrutiny.

    The kicker for me, ultimately, is the problem of evil, or as I would put it more personally, the problem of indignity and horror. Yes, MAYBE God has a “morally sufficient reason” for allowing horror and commanding horrific acts, but he’s certainly under no real obligation to let us know what it is (who’s going to make him, eh?), and smacks Job for even daring to ask. Also, if horrific acts can have potential moral justification in the hereafter, how are we supposed to judge here on earth whether an action is actually wrong? (Can truly “wrong” actions even exist, if everything that happens is necessary to bring about a higher good?) I can’t use my conscience, because my conscience says that allowing such horrific things to occur in this world, when you have the easy ability to stop them, is WRONG. If there is a single moral standard that applies universally across all responsible agents, then it is just as wrong for God to stand by and watch evil being done as it would be for us to do so. Also my conscience says that sending people to an eternal punishment of suffering (of ANY kind, I don’t just mean literal flames and whatnot) is pointless and wrong, so if my conscience IS given me by God such that I can actually know moral truths, I cannot honestly say that either Hell and any of the other atrocities committed/commanded by the Biblical deity are the epitome of goodness and love. If I am right to look at the actions of individuals and make moral judgments about them, I can read the Bible (which is a book written at the very least by fallible humans) and judge the actions of the characters in it according to the knowledge I have. And my judgment is that the actions of the God character in the Bible are not maximally good, not even close, considering the ability he has to do miracles and change our hearts, and until I actually know for certain WHAT the justification is for those actions, it is a violation of my allegedly God-given conscience to devote my whole being to worshiping that deity. If you say that I CAN’T use my conscience to judge right from wrong, then I’m no better off because the moral guide provided by the Bible is the exact opposite of objective. For example God tells the Hebrews that every man will die for his own sin, then after King David takes Bathsheba and arranges for her husband’s death, God “takes away” that sin but David’s son dies. Or how about the fact that women today suffer pain and trauma in childbirth allegedly due to a curse pronounced by God on our ancestor Eve. That is not just or fair according to the previous maxim. Also, in the letters of Paul he tells people basically that eating meat sacrificed to idols is wrong if you think it’s wrong and not if you don’t (“Whatever is not of faith is sin” or something to that effect). He also says “to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin”. If this maxim applies to humans but not to God, then we have a situation wherein one person being allowed to harm another by God (because no one can or will stop the act) is ultimately morally justifiable and part of God’s plan, and another person being stopped in a similar act is ALSO good and part of God’s plan. We obviously can’t build any kind of consistent standard for what is moral behavior on the idea that EVERYTHING that happens is ultimately morally justified as part of God’s plan. Even if you take “goodness” to be doing whatever God tells you to do on the grounds that it furthers the best possible end for everyone, this is not practically workable in society because people have always and will always hear different things which they claim are from God. People used the Bible on both sides of the 19th-century debate over slavery, slavery itself being a concept most of us view with instinctual horror and yet was permitted and even sanctioned by God (while sassing your parents and having sex out of wedlock was grounds for the death penalty). Most Christians claim to be pro-life, yet the prescribed method of determining whether your wife had committed adultery was to have her drink dirty holy water and see if her reproductive organs shriveled (and this would kill the fetus, if there was one!). Do ANY of you think that this represents an objectively morally good and ideal way to find out if your wife is cheating? Who of you would take “do unto others as you would have done unto you” as one of the ultimate moral maxims, and then argue that for some other person’s wife to be treated to this incredibly cruel and superstitious ritual (regardless of when she lived) is the BEST, the most just, kind, and good way to ascertain the truth about her sex life?

    Thanks for listening.

    1. Emily,

      I am sorry you have not found the answers supplied to you satisfying, and I hope you will continue to ask these questions to other people and that some of them might be more equipped to answer them. The one thing I would say to you after reading your answer is that you make many judgements about what is “good,” “fair” and “wrong” and yet your rejection of Christ and God leaves you with no basis to determine right or wrong. You cannot even call things “good, evil, horrible, wrong” without a theistic worldview. You cannot make the arguments you are making without borrowing on that worldview. And if your answer is that people can collectively decide what is right or wrong, that is not true. Hitler and other monsters like him decided evil was “good.” The only true basis for making those judgments is a theistic worldview. If you truly want answers to your questions they are out there. I wish you the best.

    2. Emily,

      I certainly would not claim to have all the answers. My belief in Christ and in the authority of the bible is based on faith and trust that God does what He does for reasons I can’t understand. I get how this is problematic for you. I can’t answer your questions so I’ll offer my personal insights.

      God created everything in perfect order, but it didn’t stay that way. Today we live in a fallen world. I’m sure you’ve read the account of Adam and Eve, and you know the biblical account of the circumstances that broke everything, including mankinds relationship with God. God did promise to restore that relationship, but his plan for restoring it is one that will unfold over the entire course of human history. The promise was realized in the person of Jesus Christ; his work of attonement was completed with his resurrection, and His work of reclaimation will be completed in the future when he returns from heaven to earth to claim what is rightfully His. But right now, the world is still broken. Disease, injustice, starvation, drought, nations raging against one another- it’s all because things are still busted. God never said he would end human sufferring prior to the second coming of Jesus. The bible says that man will toil under the sun all the days of his life. It says that sometimes the wicked will prosper and the righteous will suffer. It says that God’s enemy (the devil) is roaming the earth looking for someone to devour, and that he will steal, kill and destroy. As I look around our world, I see we’re getting exactly what the bible says we’re going to get, because the world is still broken. Some want to blame God for all of that, but the fact is mankind is broken too. When you mentioned that it’s wrong to allow horrific things to occur when you have the power to act, I assume you’d include starvation among those horrible things. Many people want to blame God for people starving. But the fact is that even though man has broken faith with Him, he still blesses the earth with everything it needs to sustain every living thing on it. The earth produces more than enough food to feed every creature on it. But it was man, not God, that created a system where by the only people that get the food are the ones that can afford it. In many places where humanitarian aid is attempted, evil men prevent the help from getting there. So is it really God allowing people to starve to death, or is it us? I tell you, the world is broken. We broke it. Nothing works the way it was supposed to; the way God intended. I suppose God could have created everything with a fail safe so nothing could ever go wrong, including us. But God knew we could never really love Him unless he gave us the choice to do otherwise.

      I appreciate the thoughtfulness you’ve shown by respecting the author of the post and Christianity in general, even though you don’t see eye to eye with either. My prayer for you is that you will meet a believer in Christ that is more knowledgable who will show you the same respect through the dialog.


    3. Good thoughts. There’s nothing wrong with questioning matters of faith. God doesn’t want a bunch of robots, otherwise He would not have bothered to give us free will. If we think hard enough about everything it can get some what confusing. And there are many events in the Bible that can make us go “Huh!” How is God going to explain that one?
      It is important to remember that the Bible is not a book written about perfect people. It clearly tells the tale of a fallen humanity and of the trouble that results from failing to follow God’s plan. There is a lot more that makes sense in the Bible than there is that confuses me. And I trust that God will fill me in on the details in due time.
      One story in Scripture that really made me confused was when a man promised God to sacrifice the first thing that walked through his door. His Daughter came in and ultimately she was sacrificed to God. Then I realized that this was a misguided man and that human sacrifice is clearly condemned in the Bible. Without reading the Scripture on this I may have thought that this was actually God’s will. Instead I realized that this was a tale about a man who selfishly gave up his daughter to keep a vow he made. (Jeremiah 19:5 They have built places on hilltops to worship Baal, where they burn their children in the fire to Baal. That is something that I did not command or speak about; it never even entered my mind.)
      And Jesus made it clear in many occasions that the teachings of men were not compatible with the teachings of God (Matthew 15:3-9, John 8:1-11 etc.).
      Ultimately there is no other belief system that can justify the horrors that happen on this side of eternity. I trust that it is far better to place that answer in the hands of God rather that try to face the reality of them without Him. For without God’s justice there will be no day that the wicked will have to face up to their evil deeds. And without God’s mercy and forgiveness through Christ we have little hope for eternity after we take our final breath. So ultimately, despite the questions, I have no problem trusting God fully with my heart and soul until the very end of this life.

  15. In my case, I didn’t leave home with a borrowed faith. I was born again when I was still 8 years old and it was genuine. There was enough evidence of that for my family and outsiders to call me the ‘good’ boy. I grew up believing I was good! I was the only one in my family who was a Christian and we basically had nothing in the house that could support me. I loved Sunday school but they booted me out when I turned 12. I went to church once and couldn’t see any reason to go again. I went, maybe, once a year thereafter until I left school but ‘church’ was always the same.

    So, yes, after finding myself out in the real world, I backslid for many years. I was still a ‘good’ person, no dugs, alcohol, sleeping around, cheating, lying etc. BUT no God really in my life anymore, highly persuaded by all kinds of philosophies and beliefs and so on.

    The good news is that our very patient, merciful God eventually rescued me, set me straight, and I have been back full-on with the Lord for many decades now. Halleluia.

    As the article says (or implies), constant 2-way communication, on any and all topics, with children will be successful. Yes, any and all topics, because they can all be related to God and the Bible in some way or another (without overdoing it and ‘Bible-bashing’ absolutely everything).

  16. I agree with the method of diagnosis this article presents. We define Christianity as having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, which should over time reveal a heart change. (repentance, desire to seek the Lord, fruit of the spirit) My husband and I are first generation practicing Christians and our oldest (13) daughter clearly has a borrowed faith. We’ve discussed the hard topics, asked her critical questions, and it all reveals that she’s claimed Christianity as a label and as a safeguard against hell but that is it. She can answer a lot of questions about the Bible and what people “should” do, etc. She has no desire to pray, read her Bible, talk about her faith (ever, to anyone) or try to change any negative habits/attitudes. If you ask her, she’s a Christian. She’ll assure you she said the prayer (and yes, we’ve explained that it’s not just saying a prayer… it’s a personal relationship with Jesus- relationships require communication) and she’ll shrug her shoulders. We have been intentionally spending one-on-one time with her (no agenda, just to build relationship and hope for increased communication on her side) and have been sharing our testimony, struggles, worries, and things we’ve learned and seen God doing in our lives …. to no avail. We’ve asked pastors and speakers for advice…. we are at a point of just continuing what we have been- loving her, showing her our faith (faltering as it may be at times, we don’t present ourselves as saints!), and praying, praying, praying that she will turn her heart to the Lord. Ultimately the decision is hers, but as her parents it is heartbreaking to be in this situation.

    1. Peachlovehope,
      I can imagine how painful that is. Be encouraged and not afraid. Some people have to get away in from the faith and experience the darkness of the world in order to come back and feel that the faith is their own. That can be a terrifying time for parents. Resist the temptation to make her having a deep relationship with the Lord an idol of the heart, pray with peace in your heart that God is in control, and joyfully live your faith to the fullest. She may well have a crazy, dark, prodigal time but God knows what she needs to draw her near to Him with all her heart. If that is what it takes, I know you are willing to walk that hard path. The rejoicing in the end will be to God’s glory alone, and He will use whatever she walked through for His purposes to draw more to HIm.
      God bless.

  17. This is a wonderful thought provoking challenging list of questions. It would be beneficial to tackle one per week with my kids, we’ll study together. Thanks so much for this, I’m sure it will lead to many great conversations. Lord Bless.

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  19. Great thoughts!
    Read Charles Spurgeon’s thoughts on young children:
    I agree (per experience) that we shouldn’t be shocked when our teens question what they believe. Our oldest did that and it shook me, but now I am soooo glad he did while he was at home! We talked and we watched him wrestle and falter and fail and rise with God holding his hand instead of us! Yay!
    We read a couple chapters of the Bible each night and often try to leave time for comments and questions, which there never seem to be a lack of, since, who wants to go to bed? 🙂
    On the other hand, I don’t remember ever not being in love with Jesus, except that I remember my sister kneeling to “accept Jesus into her heart” and I not knowing that I was supposed to perform that act and wanting to, too! We were 5! Telling people that they needed Jesus to save them from their sins was as normal to me as dressing baby dolls. I did love to talk about God. There were a few bumps along the way to adulthood and I did want to “rededicate my life” when I saw in a new way that I needed God to help me with my sin problem. It’s not that we don’t also sin when we’re young, just that we become keenly aware of the fact that we are our own worst enemies!

  20. Hmmm. I can see where this can apply, but as I was reading through it I was picturing my #1 child who was our question-asker. He talked and talked and engaged. He was a leader and enthusiastic in his faith. And he is the one who walked away. No. More like ran.

    Our #3 child is quiet. Getting her to talk? Well, she rarely does. But she seeks out the Word. She is the one who has purposed to participate in Bible studies (and we’re talking Precept studies, homework and all), Bible quizzing (even when she had to be on a team by herself because there was no one else to quiz with her), and other such things. She doesn’t participate in the Bible study discussions–she sits and quietly listens. But she is not turning away.

    So, while I can see some validity to what you’re saying, if I had applied it to 2 of my 3 adult children it would have been off and I would have been concerned about the wrong child. By the way, child #2 does fit your blog post. 🙂 I guess I’m just not wanting anyone to have a false sense of what is really happening in their home.

    Good stuff to chew on! Thank you for sharing.

  21. Brilliant! If parents or other spiritual authorities are not raising questions, or addressing them or encouraging them, they are probably more interested in brainwashing than actually teaching the child or pupil to think for themselves.

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  25. Thank you Natasha for writing this. This has so been my life. My Mom was a great Christian example for me but after reading your blog, I now know that most of my life has been lived on borrowed faith. She passed away 10 years ago and I felt as though I had lost my greatest prayer warrior. Since then I have grown in my faith and know that it is up to me to find my way. I wasted a lot of years and hope to make it up. May God bless you as you do his good works!

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  27. Natasha – this is one of the best I’ve read on this subject. I work in apologetics (have my masters from Southern Evangelical Seminary) and see one of my missions is to train parents in apologetics. I’ve worked as a pastor, teacher and church planter for almost 40 years. The last few years I’ve worked as an apologist teaching in conferences, seminars, and traveling abroad. I’m one of those who get the emails or phone calls from panicking parents who see their children rejecting their faith.
    I’d like to repost this on my site – with credit to you of course. My web site is Please let me know what I have to do to obtain permission to repost it. Thanks, and keep up the good work!!

    1. Thanks so much, Ray. I’m so glad you found it useful – please feel free to repost. I just ask that you include attribution with a link to my blog. Thank you for the encouragement!

  28. Very insightful and eye-opener. As Christian parents, we can become complacent about our children’s faith when our children attend church regularly, participate in church activities, go to church winter retreats and summer camps every year, answered to an altar call, can recite Bible verses, etc., all without complaining, and yet do not ask some tough questions about their faith. Your description of spiritual “parallel play” got my attention and encouraged me to examine my family’s practices. I have a teenage son who fits into the above description, and yet most recently he started asking some deep personal faith questions, which caught me off guard. In one sense, based on your blog, I am encouraged that he’s asking those questions, but I have to admit that, all this time, I thought his faith was strong and on the “right track.” Now, we attend a class at our church that addresses those 65 tough questions. Thanks.

  29. Pingback: Getting Kids To Ask Questions About Their Faith | Beyond Teachable Moments

  30. I am in my mid 30’s and have just come to a point where I had decided to walk away from Christianity, through a 3 year process which involved people from within my church I realised that my faith was not my own. Sure having grown up in the church, youth groups etc, I could answer intelligently most questions thrown at me. But I think I’ve realised I never really had my own faith. I’m at a scarey and strange point where I believe in God…. but I’m not sure I want to surrender to Him… I’m not sure if I desire Him… And I’m not sure how even if I do. And that confuses me. Anyway.
    I’ve always known I want my son to have his own faith. Even if mine is in tatters. Thanks for this post and the pointers 🙂

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  33. Greetings. I did not grow up with a borrowed” faith, as my parents and family had none. God called me to faith at 12 and the rest was up to me to pursue. He used His word and the Holy Spirit gave me a love for it.

    Unfortunately, without anyone at home who shared my budding faith, there was no one to ask any questions. I was isolated, on my own. And equally unfortunately, the church I began attending (on my own) at 12 years old – though it seemed to have all the bells and whistles, a steeple, pews, and snacks in Sunday school – never went past the flannel board and morally anecdotal stage of “teaching.” Hungry to learn, I was neither taught nor discipled, and it was not until my 50’s that I started asking the “real” questions and digging for answers using resources outside of the Church to get answers.

    I see families right and left whose children’s experience is not that much different from mine, though they all get up and “go to church” on many Sunday mornings, and they may even day grace at dinner time, and they probably pronounce all sorts of moral values and standards as control and security devices. But do they dig into the Scriptures theologically, doctrinally, and with an apologetic bent? Do they compare worldviews and equip their kids (and themselves) to be solid in knowing and articulating the differences? I’m afraid not many.

    Thank God for raising up believers who can influence the Church towards a deeper faith and a more strategic life of discipling and equipping believers.

  34. I really like this article. I’m an ex new ager. I became a Christian at 16, but still embraced MUCH of my family’s new age roots. I abandoned them a few years ago when I started learning about what the Bible taught and how it conflicted with my beliefs. I am now embracing my spiritual gift which is most definitely in apologetics. It’s extremely important to me to know what I believe and why I believe it, especially for my children.

    I have a question that’s been on my mind since reading this article. I have a four year old daughter. I see other kids her age pray a lot, read their bible and talk about God a lot. It’s on the front of my mind every day to be a good example to her by praying, reading my bible, listening to Christian music, and really embracing my friendship and love for God. But I don’t see her really grasping it the way other kids seem to. It seems like it comes so naturally for them. I know she’s so young, but are there any suggestions for me on how I can help her to have a good foundation in Jesus?

  35. Thanks, Natasha, for this post. I think my wife and I must be doing something right, so I’m encouraged, confirmed, and affirmed by what you’ve had to say here. Our girls are constantly asking us questions. My oldest, when she was 9, asked me the difference between the mind and the brain. I mean, she was 9!

    We read Scripture every morning, and are making our way through the entire OT chapter by chapter. I read to them at night also. Right now it’s The Hobbit, but before that it was Christian philosopher James Spiegel’s book, Gum, Geckos, and God, which is about a dad’s conversations about numerous spiritual questions Dr. Spiegel’s children have asked him. My girls love this book! I will also read to them stories from Voice of the Martyrs about brothers and sisters facing dire persecution. And there’s catechism sometimes, too.

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  37. An important post. I grew up in a Christian home with a “borrowed faith” and at age 17 I rebelled and lived in terrible sin for two years. At the age of 20 I read Hebrews 10:26 and was convicted of my sin and was brought to repentance and faith. A very difficult process to find out I truly hadn’t known the Lord and to realize how awful the cost of sin really is… 🙂 But it’s so important for me that children don’t just carry an empty profession throughout their childhood and then effectually reject it by living in sin as they get older. Paul Washer preaches on this topic.

  38. I am a 4th generation Christian and am clearly living on borrowed faith. I never had any deep questions growing up, and I know I’m ill-prepared to answer any. My relationship with Christ is real, but it’s shallow. I know in my head how to improve, but I don’t know how to transform knowledge into desire. Any pointers? Almost 19 years after accepting salvation, one would think I’d be a “pro”, but I feel more like an amateur today than I did at age fourteen. Pitiful.

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  40. I really like this article with one exception. This is written in the sense of a child/teen asking questions and then receiving the correct answer or “truth” from the parent or other adult. This is still telling them what they should believe. It is still “borrowing your faith”. It gives the sense that the adults in their life know all the answers. And we don’t. Teachers don’t. Pastors don’t. Only God does. What we believe is our personal belief and it should be presented that way. Yes, encourage kids to ask questions! And then mix them with your own. Don’t be afraid to question. Don’t be afraid to be wrong. Search for truth together and allow them to develop a relationship with God that will develop their own beliefs….

  41. I totally agree. It’s important for our children to have the freedom to develop their own faith. Kids who develops their faith by considering their own issues don’t fall away easily. They truly seek God for themselves and eventually find Him and enjoy real, lasting faith.

    Natasha, I hope you can write for us at Proverbs 31 Woman
    , as guest some time. Your thoughts will be a blessing to us!

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