Do you ever feel overwhelmed with all the changes in the world? How will you ever raise your kids to love God in this culture? Cell phones, social media, music, and so many things can make the most confident parents unsettled. You’re already time-starved and can barely keep the laundry done and dinner on the table (And some days that doesn’t even happen). Does it seem impossible to fit in one more thing? You are not alone!
As Christian parents, we know the importance of discipling our kids, but what does that look like? The random statement of “What would Jesus do?” when a kid is in trouble does not count! We must remove our inhibitions that talking to our kids about God is too hard. Deuteronomy 6:7 guides us on how to talk about God—when you are getting up, when you’re eating, when you’re going somewhere, when you’re going to bed. In other words, find ways to talk about God as you go about your day.
Truthfully, many Christian parents want to talk to their kids about God, but don’t feel qualified or know where to start. We don’t have to be experts. For too long we’ve outsourced God talk to the church. We felt safe knowing when we took them to church each week, the “experts” will teach what they need to know. God has always intended for parents to be the primary disciplers of their kids—after all, who knows them best and loves them the most.
For all these reasons (and more), I wrote Family Faith Talks. This book is a collection of ideas, tips, questions to ask, games to play, Bible verses to read and prayers to pray. I give many examples from my own “family faith talks.” For example, one night we popped popcorn and left the lid off the pan—on purpose…just for fun—it is fun seeing it pop all over the kitchen. They tried catching it in a clean sheet but nearly burned themselves. (Warning: popcorn straight out of the pot is HOT; do not try catching it in your mouth). So what does popcorn have to do with God? There are many connections, but one idea is when God lives inside us, He will help us grow in patience. It was hard waiting for the popcorn to pop, waiting for it to cool enough to eat it. So how can we have patience? James 1:2, 3 says we can learn patience (waiting without getting angry or complaining) by going through trials/troubles. You can always go as far as they are interested, adding personal examples, questions, or Bible verses.
Where do I start?
Start by getting the book! (A shameless plug!) There are countless resources on the Internet with ideas on teaching your kids about God, but having the book on hand, makes it convenient and easy.
Start by sharing your own faith; your struggles and victories. —appropriately, of course. The Bible verses that tell us to share our faith when we get up, when we’re eating, when we’re going, when we’re settling in at night are preceded by these great verses: 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 (Deuteronomy 6:5, 6). You can’t share what you don’t have. We have to love God and put Him first. What’s important to us may become important to our kids. I have to be growing in my love for God and His Word to pass on a vibrant faith. The Christian faith is about a relationship with God, not keeping a bunch of rules. How can we help them fall in love with God too?
Start by building some good faith habits in your life. Good habits help us do the right thing without having to make a decision about it. If the whole family has the habit of going to church every Sunday, there won’t be arguments about whether everyone is going or not. At least there wasn’t in my house growing up. We knew we were going, so we went! Our parents modeled service and worship. We never considered it as legalism or mean spirited.
Pick and choose some other good habits:
- Read the Bible or devotion after dinner or at bedtime
- Eat a meal together
- Say a simple prayer with your kids before they head out the door for school
- Memorize a Bible verse (If you do one every week, that’s 52 verses a year!)
- Play Christian music or podcasts in the car
- Visit a nursing home facility or help an elderly neighbor
- Plan a family night each week to do some of the activities in the book
Good habits are not a magic bullet, yet they help us remember to do the things essential to Christian growth—prayer, Bible reading, loving God, and loving others.
How can the book help me?
Use the book as a springboard to talk about how God fits into our daily life. The ideas in the book will guide you in talking about what is really important. Kids need to know how to make and keep good friends or learn ideas on how to pray. They need to know what to do when trouble comes or what will happen when we die. God has given us answers for all these (and a lot more) and I include them in the book. There’s a topical index in the back of the book to help you find specific topics your family needs.
The book will help you answer their questions. Have you ever talked to your child only to find out the question they asked was not really what they wanted to know? They may be unsure how to ask what they really want to know. For example, a child asked her mom, “Did Jesus really rise from the dead?” Instead of taking her question seriously and researching it together, her mother simply said, “Don’t be difficult.” When she becomes an adult, how will she be grounded in her faith and know what to believe? We all have big questions and talking about them and finding the answers helps strengthen our faith. Talk about eyewitnesses and why the Resurrection is true. (See page 27.) Do a science experiment about why God is real even though we can’t see Him. (See page 26.) Especially in our current culture, our kids need reasons to believe in God.
Spiritual truth is best delivered in small doses. That’s why most of the topics in the book start with an activity and include a simple question or two to get everybody thinking and talking.
The book provides a resource to do what you know you need and want to do. Pick an idea and try it. Let go of your fears and expectations. Chances are you may not do it perfectly. Pick another one. Your kids may get in an argument right when you’re trying to pray. Whatever you do, just don’t give up. Keep loving God. Keep talking about how good He is. When your child is afraid, share a time when you were afraid and God helped you (or with any other problem you’ve had). Sing a prayer before dinner. (See page 50.) Use the stoplight to help kids make decisions. (See page 11.) Make cards for someone who needs encouragement. (See page 19.) Pay them (yes, I said that right) to say kind words to each other. (See page 55.) See what they think. You may be surprised to see how eager they are to learn from you.
Raising kids to love and obey God seems scary. There are no guarantees, but we can show them through our talk and walk why God is worthy of all we do.
Believe it or not, someday your children will grow up and be on their own. The model you set for them, will continue in their own “Family Faith Talks.” I shared in the book how Howard Hendricks’ family every evening after dinner, pulled out a spiral notebook and wrote their prayer requests on one side and prayed together for them. Then when God answered, they wrote the date and the answer beside it. He said this is his greatest inheritance to pass on to his children—there is a God who loves us and hears and answers our prayers. A simple “family faith talk” led to a family faith walk!
- Family Faith Talks - April 6, 2020
- Five Simple Ways to Say “Thank you” to Your Sunday School Teachers - December 15, 2015