FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Parenting for Faith that Goes the Distance: Dr. Collin Outerbridge

with Dr. Collin Outerbridge | November 21, 2023
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What can you do right now to parent kids toward faith that lasts a lifetime? Dr. Collin Outerbridge shares research and practical strategies.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

What can you do right now to parent kids toward faith that lasts a lifetime? Dr. Collin Outerbridge shares research and practical strategies.

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Parenting for Faith that Goes the Distance: Dr. Collin Outerbridge

With Dr. Collin Outerbridge
November 21, 2023
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Dave: I just want to say, if you’re a parent, put down whatever you’re doing right now—

Ann: —lock in.

Dave: Put down the dumbbells, turn off—

Ann: —no, they can do that while they’re listening.

Dave: Okay, keep working out, but you might want to pull off to the side of the road and [Laughter]—

Ann: —take notes.

Dave: Yes, engage, because we’ve got some real help for parents. By the way, this could be for kids, as well.

Ann: Even if you’re a single person, this applies to us: how we’re being influenced today, and how God can shape us, or the world can shape us.

Dave: This is all about how to help your kids, who may be little now, be men or women of God when they’re adults. Cue the music—dah, dah, de, dah, dah, de, de, du. I’m just kidding.

Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most.

I’m Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at

Ann: This is FamilyLife Today.

Dave: We’ve got Dr. Collin Outerbridge back with us, who’s a pastor right where we live in Lake Nona, Florida, taking about raising kids. And you’ve got four.

Collin: I do.

Dave: Thirteen down to what?

Collin: Thirteen down to six.

Ann: How many years have you guys been married?

Collin: We’ve been married for 14. We got married—

Ann: —high school sweethearts?

Collin: —high school sweethearts. We got married at 21.

Dave: Now, were you a follower of Christ then as well?

Collin: Yes. I’ve been able to be in a family—raised in a Christian home—since the time I was born. Jesus is all I knew. But I really didn’t come to faith and have my faith become my own until I was a junior in high school.

My faith came alive, practically, when I became a college student and was mentored by another college student a couple of years ahead of me who was really invested and involved in my life. It was actually the ministry of Cru where things became real to me and Jesus became not just a part of my story, but the center for everything.

Ann: Did you think you would be a pastor?

Collin: Not at all. This was not the plan, but I’m very grateful that we get to not only plant a church and lead a church here in the city, but also, I get to do that with my wife. It’s a great joy.

Dave: Let’s get into what we’re talking about. Give us a quick review. You did a sermon series: Kids These Days. You really started to help parents understand, “How do we reach the goal we’re hoping [to]; that our sons and daughters someday will be men and women of God?”

You walked into Daniel, [Chapter] One. King Nebuchadnezzar had a strategy. What were the first two we had (really quick)?

Collin: Daniel, Chapter One, the first seven verses give us the full strategy for how the enemy tries to undermine our kids. The first step is to fictionalize the faith. What one generation believes, the next generation forgets, and the third generation denies.

The second step is to gather the influencers, because if you can get the influencers to buy in to something that is counter to God’s best, it’s only time before the culture follows.

Dave: As parents, should we be trying to put other influencers in front of our kids?

Collin: Absolutely, especially as our kids enter into adolescence. We know that the primary ways in which kids hold on to faith is, one, by looking at their parents, but secondly, by walking with community.

At some point, usually around 12, 13, or 14, that’s when kids begin wanting to—naturally, wanting to—separate from mom and dad, kind of find their own way. As parents, we are responsible for who influences our kids. In many ways, gathering the right people around them—the right coaches, the right friends, the right families—that help validate the values that we have in their lives, to serve as other voices, really can make a difference.

Ann: We were so intentional about that with our three sons. We hand-picked people that discipled them.

Dave: First, we prayed. Literally, when they were two and three, we were praying daily.

I picked a day a week to fast, and I still do 37 years later.

Collin: That’s great.

Dave: I thought I’d do it for a couple of months when our oldest was born. But part of that fast and part of that prayer was, “Would you bring men into [his] life?” Yes, C.J. has Frank; Frank is an attorney. He’s still in C.J.’s life. C.J. is 37.

Ann: Yes.

Dave: Ryan and Rob—I mean, these guys; I remember one day, our youngest was in the basement with Rob. Rob was probably in his 30s at the time, maybe—probably early 30’s. He’s down there with Cody, our youngest, and about four or five other guys. Again, he’s an answer to prayer. He’s mentoring our son, just like you said. That’s a positive influencer.

Collin: Yes.

Dave: You kept going in this sermon. You [said] that wasn’t all of his strategy; that was just two of five, so give us some more.

Collin: The next one is to re-educate our kids. If you notice, in Daniel, Chapter One, King Nebuchadnezzar commissions Ashpenaz to teach these new Hebrew boys that have just been taken from their home and brought to Babylon to learn the language and the literature of the Babylonians.

I think there’s a key insight here, that we have to be aware that our kids are impressionable; our kids are constantly soaking up like sponges the information that’s given to them.

Daniel would have grown up in a Hebrew school where he was learning the language of the Torah, where he was studying the language of his people. Now, as he’s transferred to Babylon, they are going to teach him a new language. In many ways, the goal is that this Babylonian language will permeate through his life and his home, and he won’t teach his kids Hebrew. Two generations later, no one can read the Torah.

I think we need to be aware that, as parents especially, we have to be cued in and locked in on the educational framework that our kids are finding themselves in. There’s an interesting research study that shows that children spend about 15,000 hours in formalized education from the time they’re in kindergarten until they graduate high school.

If a family goes to church 40 times a year—if a family checks their child into kids’ ministry or into youth ministry 40 times a year—that number is about 520 hours of Christian instruction that they’re receiving—

Ann: —compared to—

Collin: —15,000 hours of an educational framework that may be diametrically opposed to the values, and to the worldview, and to the matters of importance that a family might hold. Here is what is even more terrifying: the Bureau of Labor and Statistics identified that parents usually spend about 20 minutes a week paying attention to and engaging in the homework of their child.

We’ve got to be aware and cognizant of where our kids are attending school, what the voices are in the life of our kids; and asking the questions, “What is the language that they’re being taught? What is the literature that they are reading?” because that will shape and form them in ways that either orient them towards receptivity to the good and beautiful truth of the good news of Jesus or lead to a discouragement or a disconnection from those very things.

Dave: What have you guys decided? Because I know a lot of parents are listening [saying], “Well, that’s why I chose Christian school” or “That’s why I chose homeschooling,” which could be a great choice. But what if you don’t choose that? Is that a good choice?

Collin: I think that there are amazing parents that have their kids in public school, amazing parents that have their kids in private Christian school, and amazing parents who choose to homeschool their kids as well.

The real answer is not so much, “Where do I send my child?” The question is, “How involved am I in their education?”

Ann: You’re saying we can’t be passive.

Collin: Yes. We cannot be passive in either situation. I see some parents who outsource the spiritual formation of their child to the private Christian school—


Dave: —or the church.

Collin: —or to the church, when the reality is, we’ve got to raise our hands and say, “I am responsible for the education of my child.”

We can use whatever resources are available to us or what works with our family dynamic to accomplish that, but the real question is, “What kind of conversation are we having at the dining room table? What kind of conversation are we having as we are driving to and from club practice? What trips are we taking as a family? What moments are we sharing where we are creating dynamics and spaces for our children to really get a picture of how good and how beautiful God is?

Our kids are attending a private school, but Stacy and I are firm believers that when they come home, we’re going to look at the curriculum; we’re going to look at the things that they’re learning. There are times where we want to give our kids a different imagination for what it looks like to follow Jesus than what their school is providing. We wouldn’t know that unless we were involved. As parents, we must be active and engaged in the education of our kids and see this as a primary responsibility.

Dave: What you just said; you used the word “call.” It’s the call of God on a Christian parent’s life. This is what you’re called to do.

Take us to your dinner table. Have you had any conversations?

Collin: Oh, yes. A ton of conversations.

We do some simple things in our home. The first thing we do is high/low. We sit around the table. Everybody shares their high for the day; everybody shares their low for the day. The rule at our table is, when one person is speaking, no matter who it is, we all have to lean in and listen.

Let me tell you, it is different when a 13-year-old is sharing their high and a 6-year-old has to listen to middle school girl drama. [Laughter] It’s not something he’s necessarily interested in. Or a six-year-old who is still developing sentence structure and learning word economy. We can sit there for quite some time.

But that creates the conditions for the other conversations that Stacy and I might have at bedtime. It’s really daily research for us: “How are our daughters doing? How are our boys handling that bully,” or “Are they the ones who are bullying?” It creates a moment for us, later on in the evening, to have a one-on-one conversation if we need to, or just to file that away so that when we’re driving to school the next day or when we’re doing a pickup, if we need to have a one-on-one conversation, we can with our kids. We have a built-in research portal, if you will, that happens at the dining room table.

I think a second thing that’s important for us is creating rhythms. Our family is significantly committed to the concept of Sabbath. We believe that God has called us to identify a window of time, as a family, where we stop working. This is actually a way that we remind ourselves, and our kids are reminded, that the world keeps on spinning and God is still in control even when we are at rest.

We have some traditions around Sabbath that our kids lean into as well. For us, that happens from Friday night until Saturday. We get home, and we always have a feast. It could be “We went to Chick Fil-a because Mom and Dad are tired,” or the feast could be a meal that we’ve made, and we share gratitude on Friday night.

We try to create daily, weekly, and then annual opportunities and milestones for our kids that help supplement what we hope are the valuable influences in their life from their youth directors [and] their small group leaders, as well as the school they attend.

Ann: When you put your kids in a private school or even a Christian school, you assume that everything that they’re learning is great. Our kids have been in both public and private. Some of those conversations surprised me of some of the things they—it could be something on legalism [where they say], “This is what happened at school today, and this teacher said this to me.”

That may not be something that Dave and I—we’re not legalistic people, so we’d have a conversation about that. I think that’s wise, because you just think—I know when our kids were in Christian school, I became less active in participating in everything. I just assumed that it would be great.

Dave: We outsourced it.

Ann: Yes. I think it’s really important for you to do that no matter where your kids are, even if they’ve been hanging out with the neighbor kids in the neighborhood all day. That’s really important [to say]: “Guys, what happened today? What did you guys talk about?” Those are just great conversations.

Dave: I love your idea of Sabbath.

Ann: Me, too.

Dave: I know that, as a pastor, I preached it and often didn’t do it. It’s in the Ten Commandments.

Ann: You couldn’t do Sunday, because we couldn’t.

Dave: So, you did Friday night/Saturday. We went to Israel and sat with Jewish families through Shabbat, and it was powerful.

Ann: Oh, yes.

Dave: We rushed back to the states saying, “We’re doing that!”

A family, especially like yours, that’s young, and you’ve got teenagers down to six-year-olds, you have to be intentional, or you’re not going to stop; you’re just going to run from one to the next. Wise families say, “No, I’m not going to get caught up in that whirlwind,” right?

Collin: Yes. Let me encourage families here when it comes to Sabbath, because I think we can hear, “a 24-hour window,” where that’s not possible. I think that the key is: start with what you can start with.

Our oldest travels across the country playing competitive sports. Our two youngest are playing a sport. Every single Saturday they’re involved in something. Our second daughter is really involved in the arts. Our weekends are not hanging out at home on Saturday twiddling our thumbs. I don’t have an acoustic guitar, singing worship songs. [Laughter] That’s not our reality. But we’ve asked the question: “What can we do?” and “Let’s start with what we can do.”

Our kids know, Friday night, nobody’s going out. We’re at home together, and that is the Sabbath dinner. We might invite some friends to join us. But I would encourage parents that, if 24 hours seems like an impossibility, don’t punt on Sabbath. Do what you can in the season that you’re in, and trust that God will fill the gaps.

Dave: Yes, that’s big.

Ann: It was big for us. When our kids were in middle school and high school, they were in so many sports [that] we just weren’t eating together because of their practices. We ended up—for a time, we had dinner at nine o’clock. That sounds insane, but they had snacks along the way. It was the only time with high schoolers we could gather, and it was sweet because it was a great catch up for all of us.

Dave: Now, let’s go back to the book of Daniel.

Collin: The next step after we look at the education element is that the enemy’s desire is to keep us dependent and comfortable. If you’ll look in Daniel, Chapter One, Ashpenaz is told to gather the influencers, to re-educate them, and then to feed them from the king’s table.

Now, [doing] a cursory reading of this, we don’t think much of it. But it is incredibly strategic by Nebuchadnezzar, because if he can get these Hebrew boys to eat from his table, that means that they’re going to get some really good food. The rest of their community, they’re not in that position. The rest of their community, they’re looking for scraps in the streets; but these boys are enjoying a medium-rare ribeye every single night.

What can often times happen when we think about faith being undermined in the life of our kids, and really even in our own lives (because this isn’t just a strategy for kids, it’s a strategy for all of us) is that, when we become more connected in love with the world that we’re in, as opposed to the kingdom that we belong to; when our eyes are more focused on what is in front of us instead of eternity, we begin to compromise. The king knew that. The king knew if he could get these Hebrew boys to fall in love with Babylon, then they would fall out of love with their Creator, their Maker, and their people.

I think the encouragement for all of us is to ask this critical question: “Am I living a life that would inspire my kids to believe that there is more to this life than this life? Are they seeing me live with extravagant generosity? Do they believe that Mom and Dad are more concerned about eternity than they are what happens this weekend?”

I think that when we take an inventory of our life, it can be a lot easier to fall in love with the king’s table than it is to fall in love with the King of kings who invites us to an eternal table that oftentimes involves suffering, oftentimes involves sacrifice, oftentimes involves doing the right thing instead of the easy thing.

But our kids are watching. I think it’s an important reminder for all of us that our kids take their cues from us when it comes to how important God really is.

Ann: I loved your C.S. Lewis quote that says, “Prosperity knits a man to this world.” Do you think that is true?

Collin: Oh, absolutely.

Ann: Yes.

Collin: And I think Hebrews 13 reminds us that we’re not of this world, right?

Ann: Yes.

Collin: We belong to an eternal king. Yes, I think that the continual evaluation that we have to take on, especially in the West, especially in North America, is we have to ask this critical question: “Am I excited about the fact that Jesus is coming back? Do I want Him to come back? Is eternity where my heart is longing for? Do I wake up thinking about eternity, or do I wake up thinking about the comfort that I can find in a moment?”

Dave: Now, what’s that look like in your home?

Collin: Things like Sabbath, again, are core because I am indexed toward working hard. My wife is the same way. So, for us, making these choices that disrupt our lives to remind us that this life is not the most important life or the only life is really, really essential.

I’d say the second thing that we love to do with our kids that’s been helpful is—this is going to sound kind of weird, but we take them to old churches when we travel. We just recently went on a trip with our son. Old churches have cemeteries around them. We don’t have those at most churches nowadays. But those cemeteries remind us of the brevity of life, the temporality of all of it. We end up talking a lot about heaven and eternity with our kids.

Another thing that we do that I think is important for families as well, is to get our kids around people that are older on in life, who are thinking about death, because it seems more apparent. Normalizing those interactions; having our kids spend time with their great grandparents, taking them on trips to spend time with them, it creates the kind of environment and culture where our kids are open to realizing that heaven isn’t just a concept or an idea, but it’s a destination.

When we talk about that, it creates some opportunities for us to think about what we do have in life, and what God has called us to steward, and how we can be generous with those things, because there are more important things than the shoes that are on our feet or the outfit that we’re wearing. Although those things are important and valuable, they’re not the most valuable.

Ann: I’m amazed. I’m thinking about these young men. How old do you think they were?

Collin: They were teenagers.

Ann: Right.

Collin: Probably 13, 14; 13 to 17, somewhere in that range.

Ann: I’m thinking of my own three young teenagers, and they’re presented a banquet, a feast. Every night they’re presented this, and they didn’t eat it. It’s pretty remarkable that they didn’t.

Collin: It is remarkable, and I think that there’s a key principle here. That principle is, “Are we willing to say ‘no’ to good things so that we can say ‘yes’ to greater things?”

Dave: That will preach.

Collin: Do we create conditions where our kids see us doing that?

Ann: That’s the key, I think.

Collin: That’s a key element.

Dave: One of the things that we tried to do, and we even took our name, Wilson, and said, “What are the values?” An acrostic. The W was “Work hard.” One of the things we tried to do is, “If you want nice things, you work for them.”

I would say this from the stage sometimes on Sunday in a sermon: “If you have daughters or sons in your house, don’t hire a lawn company. You’ve got a lawn company. Get them out there to mow the yard.” I’d have parents come up and say, “Dude, quit doing that. We just do a lawn company.”

I would say, “You’re not teaching.” Our boys—and I’m not saying every family should do this, but part of that “Good things come when you work hard” is they both, two of our sons—were concrete workers in high school and roofers. They worked on roofs. We had parents who said, “Do you realize how dangerous that it?”

They came home exhausted and dirty. We would say, “This is part of the future plan. It’s a bigger vision of saying, ‘We want children that know how to work hard’.” If you want nice things, work. It shouldn’t be handed to you, right? You didn’t hand your daughter a phone.

Collin: No, and there’s a running comment in our home: “This is Mom and Dad’s money, not yours.” [Laughter] I think it’s an important thing for our kids to recognize: “You’re invited to enjoy these good things, but you’re not entitled to these good things.”

Dave: Yes, that’s good.

Collin: We want our kids to see us be sacrificially generous. One thing that we do is I do my tax returns with my daughters (my two oldest daughters) every year. At the end of the year when we’re finalizing our end-of-year giving, I have my two oldest sit with me so they know how much money Mom and Dad give away, because I want them to see that we say “no” to things we could have because we want to invest in kingdom work that is eternal and matters more. Because the eternally minded people don’t happen by accident. It happens by intention.

Dave: I remember when one of our sons—I don’t remember which one—was in high school, I showed him, “Here’s the check I write for the house every month; the mortgage. Here’s the check I write—”—again, back then, writing checks: check for mortgage, check to God—and I said, “I always want the check to God to be bigger than this,” because it’s a very sizable investment in a house.

I remember he looked and said, “Are you crazy?” because he now had an understanding of money and thousands of dollars to him was “That is nuts, Dad.” I said, “That’s what matters. Your heart is where your treasure is, and this represents that.”

Shelby: Man, that is such a good idea. My oldest daughter is currently 12. Dave just inspired me to show my daughter a window into how we spend and what we give. Yikes! Pray for me.

I’m Shelby Abbott, and you’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Collin Outerbridge on FamilyLife Today. Collin has a three-part YouTube series that we would love for you to check out. It’s called Kids These Days. You can go to in the show notes to click on that and look at Collin’s content that he has there on YouTube. We highly recommend that you do so.

While you’re at, I wanted to let you know that Weekend to Remember® gift cards are now 50 percent off through November 27th. Sometimes it can be hard to choose where to go right now when you’re thinking about a Weekend to Remember getaway. A gift card can allow you to buy now and then register for your location later.

Sometimes, these things are happening all over the country, and you don’t know where to go. When you think about Weekend to Remember, you may even have another couple come to mind. These gift cards do make great gifts as well. All of them are half off through November 27th. You can go to, look for the banner on the screen, and get a Weekend to Remember gift card.

Coming up tomorrow, it’s really important to understand the enemy’s strategy when he thinks about parenting. Dr. Collin Outerbridge is going to be joining Dave and Ann Wilson once again tomorrow to talk about that and our strategies for anchoring our child’s faith in the appropriate place. That’s tomorrow. We hope you’ll join us.

On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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