Pastoral Hub

IFGF Global


In North America, we are faced with a declining number of youth and young adults attending churches. According to survey data from Gallup, they notice that young adults are less likely than older adults to have religious affiliation and to attend church. It made me wonder, what seems to be causing the younger generation to walk away from churches? How can we bridge this gap? And what should be our response as the body of Christ?

Source: Jones, J. (2022)

Although I don’t have children of my own yet, I turned to my parents to seek wisdom on raising children in a Christian household. Both of them, Kris Wijaya and Retno Dermawan started their ministry as Sunday school teachers before leading the IFGF Vancouver church. I consider myself incredibly blessed to have them as my parents and mentors. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from them and gain insight into placing God at the center of our homes. I pray that the conversations I’ve had with my parents will also bear fruit in your families!

What lessons have you learned in your 30 years of parenthood?

We have learned that parenthood is a privilege and an exciting journey. We go through the same learning process as you do. Just as you are discovering bits and pieces of your identity, we too had to navigate ways to best support you and exemplify the love of our Heavenly Father. We believe that every member of our family is a teammate and entrusted to each other to fulfill God’s purpose for His Kingdom.

Our first role as parents is to cultivate a personal relationship with God. This enables us to gain wisdom, strength, and patience from Him. Fostering this relationship helps us to identify in which areas we can grow as parents and how we can guide you with love and discipline. We view children as a gift and hold the responsibility of leading them to the Lord, as commanded in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.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.

It’s important to acknowledge that as parents, we serve as God’s representatives. When we instill principles of righteousness in our children, they must witness these principles in our actions. Verse 7 specifically emphasizes the need for intentional teaching of God’s Word to our children. We strive to consistently place Jesus at the center of our family dynamics—whether we’re navigating challenges, resolving conflicts, engaging in conversations, addressing behavioral issues, or giving encouragement. We ensure that God is involved in every family decision, making His presence evident in every aspect of our lives. While we may not be perfect parents, our daily goal is to grow more Christ-like. It’s essential that we lead by example through both our words and actions.

Which strategies have you found to help raise God-fearing children?

Something that has worked for our family is to build an altar of praise. Our homes are a small-scale church, and we are called to serve one another. When you and your brother were younger, we set aside a specific time in our day to read the Bible, worship, and pray together as a family. We hope that as you grow older, you’ll see it as necessary in your walk with God. Our role as parents is to introduce you to God, equip you with His living Word, and then it becomes your decision to devote your life to Him. Like in any relationship, communication is key to raising children. We need to create a safe space for children to ask tough questions about the Bible, communicate our feelings, and be willing to explain the Word with patience.

A woman in the Bible who sets a powerful example of a God-fearing parent is Hannah. Her unwavering faith in the Lord led her to dedicate her son, Samuel, to be used according to God’s will. In much the same way, our hope for you and your brother is to lead lives dedicated to serving the Lord. We believe that children are a precious gift from the Lord, as Psalm 127:3-4 reminds us:

“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.”

Our greatest joy is witnessing both of you commit your lives to ministry, whether in the church or the marketplace. We understand the importance of instilling a compassionate and servant-hearted attitude from a young age. We’ve shown this through how we can be generous with our time, finances, or encouraging words to others. Our life mission has always been to prioritize seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, trusting that everything else will follow. By making this our focus within our family, we deepen our connection to the heart of our Heavenly Father.

Lastly, we think it’s important to have a balance between ministry as well as nurturing quality time with one another. This may look like going for walks, outdoor activities, playing board game nights, or simply sitting together at the dinner table. One of our fundamental rules during meals is to keep our phones away and actively inquire about each other’s day. A God-fearing family prioritizes fellowship and demonstrates love by being fully present with one another. This fosters a supportive environment where our children feel seen, heard, and valued. Ultimately, we aim to cultivate strong connections with our children. Raising God-fearing children is a journey that requires tremendous effort. It’s about showing our commitment to serving and loving one another, in the same way that Jesus loves the church.

Source: Jennifer Wijaya (Global Women Coordinator)

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