Encourage your children to think for themselves about faith. While it’s valid to communicate your own opinions about spiritual matters, it’s important to let your kids have the freedom to think critically about what they believe, and arrive at their own conclusions. Kids who simply absorb their parent’s views on faith without considering the issues themselves don’t really make faith their own, and often fall away from faith. But kids who truly seek God for themselves will eventually find Him and enjoy real, lasting faith. So don’t lecture your children. Instead, ask them thoughtful questions designed to encourage them to seek God for the answers.

Help your kids develop relationships with others that will nurture their faith. Encourage your children to befriend people of all ages, since intergenerational friendships will enlarge their perspective on faith. Make sure that your kids attend your church’s main worship service often, in addition to any age-specific groups they participate in (such as Sunday school or youth group).

Give your children opportunities to work for justice. Urge your kids to serve people in need and work to right wrongs both in your local community and throughout the world. Find causes that matter to your kids, and join them to volunteer as often as you can. Try to build ongoing relationships with the people that you and your children serve, so your kids can see how God is at work transforming all concerned through your relationships.

Help your kids make the transition from high school to college well. Leaving high school for college can be dangerous for your children’s faith if they’re not prepared to take a faithful approach to starting their lives as independent adults. Too many teens become overwhelmed by all the choices facing them at this stage of their lives, stop thinking critically about their decisions, and then make destructive choices. Discuss issues like premarital sex, alcohol use, and time and money management with your teens well before they leave for college. Within the first two weeks after they begin college, help them find and connect with a local church and campus ministry group, since relationships with other Christians are essential for their faith to grow in college.

Trust Jesus with your children. As your kids go through natural ups and downs on their spiritual journeys, resist the urge to try to control them, and instead regularly pray for them, inviting Jesus to work in their lives in ways that go far beyond what you can do yourself. Foster a lifelong relationship with your children, letting them know that you’ll be there for them no matter what. Then continue to live faithfully yourself and pray for your kids often, trusting Jesus to do what’s best in their lives.

Adapted from Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids,copyright 2011 by Dr. Kara E. Powell and Dr. Chap Clark. Published by Zondervan, Or., http://www.zondervan.com.

Dr. Kara E. Powell is executive director at Fuller Youth Institute and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. She has authored or co-authored several books, including Essential Leadership, Deep Justice in a Broken World, and Help! I’m a Woman in Youth Ministry. She is the general editor for The Fuller Youth Institute E-Journal and regularly speaks at conferences and seminars. She lives with her husband and three children in Pasadena, California. Visit her website at: http://www.fulleryouthinstitute.org/.

Chap Clark, PhD (Univ. of Denver), is Associate Provost for Regional Campuses and Special Projects and Professor of Youth, Family, and Culture at Fuller Theological Seminary. Chap’s extensive books, articles, and videos focus primarily on relationships. Among his many books are Hurt and Hurt 2.0; Disconnected: Parenting Teens in a MySpace World(coauthored with his wife, Dee); and Deep Justice in a Broken World. Chap and Dee live in Gig Harbor, Washington. Visit his website at: http://www.parenteen.com/.

Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles (http://angels.about.com/). Contact Whitney at: angels.guide@about.comto send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.