It was Sunday night. School the next day so 7:30 bedtime for the little man. But we also had company and I didn’t want to leave her hanging. I got him dressed for bed and asked one of his older sisters to read him his Bible story before bed. With minimal grumbling she came over and I headed out the door.
And then I paused.
I’m so glad I paused.
“Okay buddy, what story did you read the last time?” she asked
“Hmm, I don’t remember.”
“Here, look at the pictures,” she replied.
“Oh, yeah!! It was about how God was born!”
“That’s right. You read about Jesus being born. Do you know why He did that? Because He loves you SO much! Did you know that Jesus loves you? He really, really does!”
Be still, my mommy heart.
We hear it all the time. I say it all the time. Our ministry as parents and caregivers in the home is to disciple our children in the faith. To help them find and form their faith; to help them know and experience the love of God.
But it’s not so they can just have their own personal experience. It’s so that after they’ve been discipled, they can disciple others. It’s so they can express their faith experience and give it away to others, just as they’ve had it given to them.
It’s so they can say, “Do you know Jesus loves you? He really, really does!”
As a teacher, I would always tell my students the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else. There is something about putting what we’ve learned into action that really makes it stick. The same it true when it comes to our faith. Our experience becomes so much more “sticky” when we share it when someone else.
So, it got me thinking – how can I help my own kids grow their faith in this way? How can I give them some experience that will let them pass on what they’ve learned?
Here are four ways that I considered – I’d love to hear what is happening in your home!
Switch Roles – Open-ended questions are our friend. Inviting children to share a story almost always leads to one. I tried this out on my oldest. I simply asked, “When’s the last time you really felt God talk to you?” At first she deflected but after thinking about it she shared an experience where she felt God personally interacting with her. I let her talk. “Tell me about it. How did that make you feel? What are some ways you think we can connect with God? What’s your advice for me?” I was the disciple…the student became the teacher. It was..pretty great.
Connect the Generations – If there is one thing I’ve become more and more convinced of it is that children need to interact with those older and younger than they are. Having an older child pray with, read to, or play alongside of a younger child opens the door for discipleship to happen. Having a younger child draw pictures for, sing songs to, or act out a Bible story in front of an older child or person gives them space to re-tell what they are learning about God. We really need each other if a fuller image of God is to be grasped by all.
Set them up for Success – Create space for children to live out what they are learning. Find ways to serve in the community and in the home and make the opportunity available to them. When you read a portion of Scripture or talk about our relationship with God, offer them ways that they can live it out. Give them the chance to interact with others in a way that it puts flesh on the theology. Some ideas would be to clean up your neighborhood or local park, serving a neighbor or friend, or cleaning for a sibling (that will test love like nothing else; ask me how I know).
Be Intentional – After hearing the conversation between my son and daughter, I’ve decided to be more intentional about asking my girls to read with him and talk to him about God. How cool would it be when he is older for him to remember these foundational truths of God and His love to have come from his sisters? And the unique bond that would create between them? Even younger kids can do this just by giving space for them to say “Jesus loves you” to one another. Be creative but be intentional.
As I walked back downstairs that night, the words of John rang in my heart – “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 Jn 1:4). True discipleship begets disciples that disciple and so on. Legacy-making takes faith from one generation to the other through the act of continued discipleship. We pour into them and they pour into others. Our work of discipleship doesn’t end with just our children; it goes on for generations to come.
Let’s give our kids the chance to start building on that legacy even now when they are young. And let’s let them pour back into us as they come to know and live into the love of Christ in their own lives. This is exciting stuff!! We are part of something bigger and so are our children! Let’s live it like its meant to be lived – fully and abundantly, for all eternity!
For more information about
- Kids in Worship
- Determining which Type of Family Ministry model works best for your church
- Discipleship in Intergenerational community
- Encouraging the continued conversation through Practical Discipleship at Home
- Seminars, Workshops, Coaching
About this Blog
Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family and Seedbed