How do we help our children develop their own faith? Lisa Brown from the NH Media Team brings you a summary of this seminar from Rachel Turner.
Over the past 13 years of my life, I have been a Children’s Pastor, a Youth Pastor and a Family Life Pastor. Through these experiences, I have developed a passion to see children grow in their faith.
I am not a perfect parent, nobody is, but what I am here to share is tips, hints and advice built up over the years and is based on the experiences of thousands of parents.
I have seen the difference between the kids who are “God smart” – the kids that have all the answers to Bible knowledge quizzes, and even the kids who correct you when you make a mistake, and those who are “God connected” – the kids that live it, the kids who know what the love of our Heavenly Father feels like. They can perceive Gods voice and knows their identity as a child of God. As parents we all want to raise “God connected” kids but at times, we only know how to raise God smart kids.
When I begin to look at supporting parents, they often tell me that they feel like they are trapped in the reactive moments of parenting. Remember skipping ropes? When you had to stand in the queue waiting your turn and when you get to the front you have to wait for the right timing then you leap in and do your thing – you either skip like a professional or you get hit in the face with the rope and have to wait back in line again – then you have to leap out.
As parents we often feel that way about spiritual parenting. We wait in the queue, then as occasions arise like when a family member is sick, we can see the moment coming that opens an opportunity to have a conversation – we jump in and do our thing – we talk about God and we can read passages relevant to the conversation- then we jump out and wait in line for the next opportunity to present itself.
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.
This is God’s plan for children’s discipleship. God has designed the discipleship of His children to take place in the ever day, mundane tasks or normal life. The children’s pastors do still have a role, but the role of the parent is vital. Talk to the children when your making dinner, walking to gymnastics or grocery shopping.
Their God-connectedness comes when God comes to them in everyday life.
God understands that we are tired and exhausted, He certainly doesn’t expect us to do a Sunday school style lesson plan for our kids, but we can still focus on the spiritual aspects in life.
Children can feel overwhelmed when meeting with God on a one to one basis, especially as everything else is done as part of a crowd like school, church and as a family. Our call as parents is to help our children walk in an individual relationship with God.
One of the most powerful things you can do as a parent is to train them in the individual aspects of worship – though there is still place for corporate worship. We want to show them what Christianity really looks like in every day life as they need to know how to talk to God when we are no longer there.
When we are stressed, tired or just plain grumpy, explain to your children why that is. For instance, if you haven’t spent time in God’s word recently, tell them and then make some time for your own personal devotions. Or if someone is angry, tell them that anger can often come out of fear quoting “perfect love casts out fear”.
Our children need to see the hard times as well as the good so that when the hard times come and they hit a bump in the road, they know that it is normal and they know how to handle it. Our walk as parents is powerful, it is exactly what they need to see. There are so many times we only want them to see the good bits, the bits that work out, but we need to show them the hard times. If your quiet times consist of going into your bedroom and closing the door, they do not know what quiet time with Jesus looks like.
We need to create windows in our life so that our children can see what its like. Let them in on your quiet time (or at least leave to door open so they can see you, and answer any questions they may have about what you are doing) – let them see you cry out to Jesus, and how you still worship God even when the hard times hit and you feel that God isn’t doing what you want him to do.
I once saw a nine year old girl getting annoyed at another child, as her temper rose she stopped what she was doing, took a deep breath with her eyes closed and her head toward heaven and she said “Jesus, I need your heart” when her eyes were opened, she had calmed herself down and had taken on more of a character of Jesus.
Surprised, I spoke to her mum who told me that was what she did and the child was just copying her behaviours. Children see how we act and react to certain situations, and we need to be open and honest with them. If your child sees you worshipping God and enjoying the music, they can develop a love of worship music also as they can see how it affects you and they want it to have the same impact on their life.
We shouldn’t want to pass on our faith, we want better for them. We are on these journeys together, but our children should be on their own journey not ours.