Talking to Our Adult Children About God at the Christmas Dinner Table

written by Dr. Richard Land

The holidays are not only a time for families to come together to give thanks, reconnect, and celebrate the Savior’s birth, but they can also be the setting for heated conversations on everything from faith to politics.

For 27 years, SES has equipped students, pastors, ministry leaders and parents to share the Gospel from an informed and rational biblical worldview. Central to this purpose is the provision of a biblical basis and an academic understanding for believers’ commitment to Christ. Therefore, SES provides an education where the Christian worldview is both a framework for thinking and a dynamic for living. We know that conversations on faith, politics, gender, marriage, education, the environment, and much more will be part of dinner table discussions this holiday season. Our aim has always been to equip Christians with the foundations to be able to answer common objections to Christian concepts in a loving and intelligent way.

This is a needed focus, reports the Family Research Council, evidenced by surveys finding that “the proportion of American adults who have a biblical worldview dropped to 7% in 2018—the lowest on record. The data confirmed what has long been known—a large majority of Americans are biblically illiterate and don’t understand Christian convictions. This is especially true regarding morally weighty topics such as abortion, religious liberty and sexuality. Significantly, even professing Christians often struggle to defend a biblical ethic when it comes to these politically contentious issues. … Perhaps more than ever before, Christians need to be grounded in the truths of God’s Word and be prepared to articulate the core beliefs of the faith in a winsome manner.”

We believe that one of the avenues for discovering this “truly biblical ethic”  involves engaging our adult children about God and faith—opportunities which could very well happen during the holiday season.

David and Debbie’s Story

For example, SES spoke with David and Debbie, who thought they did everything right raising their children in a Christian home. They took their children to church, had family devotions, prayed for them often, and warned them that their faith would be challenged in college. Now their children are in their mid-40s, and they want nothing to do with spiritual matters.

“We thought that they were prepared to go off to college and get out into the world, but looking in retrospect, we can see that they weren’t,” David told SES. “They were not grounded in faith to the degree that I thought they were.”

The couple commented that their children are successful in their careers, are kind, and have healthy relationships with their parents. But David and Debbie admit they didn’t fully equip their children to face an increasingly aggressive secular society and the untruths continually fed to them.

“We didn’t really understand the importance of articulating a Christian worldview,” Debbie said.

For the past several years, Debbie has been part of a Wednesday morning Bible study held at SES and led by SES faculty. Both Debbie and David also attend an apologetics class at their church taught by an SES graduate.

“I have really gleaned a lot about apologetics and answers to questions that people ask,” Debbie said.

David added, “The apologetics class at church caused me to think of different ways of sharing Christ with our children. Before, I would quote Bible verses to them if I could get them to listen, just try to insert it into the conversation.”

His adult children would quickly shut him down. Now, David has a new approach to bringing God into conversations with his children—“an in-road to talking about God in their language.”

The couple has learned about non-Christian philosophies and the kinds of beliefs to which their children have been exposed. It has helped them to see where their children’s opinions are coming from and to build a foundation for talking about spiritual topics. At the same time, Debbie said, she and her husband are becoming more firmly rooted in their own faith.

“Apologetics gave us a deeper understanding of who God is, and that changed us and enriched our spiritual walk with God,” she said. “As old as we are and as many Bible studies as we’ve been in, it’s exciting for our faith to grow more.”

Scenarios like these link directly into SES’s curriculum as students of all ages delve into Christian apologetics, how it applies to practical daily life, and how to rationally, intelligently, and lovingly defend the historic Christian faith. Not everyone will become an SES student, and not everyone needs to. You are, however, called to know why you believe what you believe and be prepared to plant the seeds of truth in conversations around the dinner table at Christmastime or any other time. May your holiday season be filled with much love, joy, kindness, and many opportunities to give the reason for our hope, the hope of the Gospel, we celebrate at Christmas.

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