Today we kick off with goal #1:
That our children grow up in the knowledge and love of God as their heavenly Father, and of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour
- a) What do you believe?
The key to teaching our children about God is knowing him and loving him ourselves. We want our children to follow our model of faith, imperfect as it is.
Paul says to the Corinthians, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). We could say the same to our children.
It’s worth thinking through what you believe, and how you are going in your relationship with God. Are you growing in your knowledge of him, in your trust of him? If not, make it a priority that you are growing in your own faith.
Some things to think about:
- How are you growing in your knowledge and love of Christ as your Lord and Saviour?
- Write 1-2 sentences that explain your faith to a child. (if you really struggle to do this, try reading Leading Your Child to Jesus, by David Staal)
- b) How do we teach children the things of God?
Use all opportunities, at all times!
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 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. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
Some things we can use to teach children about God:
- God’s word (this is so important I’ll look at it separately in post #4).
This alone is enough. Read it to your children and explain it, and you will be teaching them the faith.
- The world around us
Use the world that God has made to teach of him – people, animals, land, rivers, etc. Talk about the weather & the seasons, that God sends the rain and the sunshine.
We can use the things of the world to be thankful and praise God:
- The rain that gives us water to drink and helps the garden grow
- The butterflies and the ants in the garden
- Our house to live in
- A car in wet weather
- That Daddy/Mummy has a job so we can buy things
- That we can go to church safely, etc.
- People & the way they act
Explain why people do things in biblical terms: eg. sinful, self-controlled, gentle, generous, obedient, etc. (rather than naughty, mean, happy …)
Do the same with your own behaviour and theirs:
- “I’m sorry, I was not being loving”
- “You did not do what I asked, that was disobedient”
- “I could tell you were angry at your sister, good job at being self-controlled”
- Events of the year
- Develop traditions. Noël Piper says “Our children come to believe, probably unconsciously, that whatever is repeated regularly has significance.” & that “we must plan to reflect God and teach about Christ in the repeated events of our lives”. (Treasuring God in Our Traditions, Piper)
- Use them as a time to thank God for your child. If you make a big deal out of birthdays in your house, put the same amount of effort into Christmas and Easter.
- Christmas and Easter are key times where we can teach specifically about God & Jesus
Christmas (& advent)
- Make Christmas about Jesus in your house, reclaim it from Santa and If you don’t no-one else will, and this is even more important once they start school.
- Use advent to your advantage! Use the 25 days to talk about Jesus. There are materials available from publishers like the Good Book Co or you can design your own.
- Whatever you do – make it fun – we want to good news about Jesus to be more exciting that anything Santa has to offer. We have boxes that are opened each day, each child gets a treat in the box, there’s a bible verse and an activity to do. It’s fun!
- Same with Easter – it’s just as important to teach what Easter is about and why we celebrate it.
- Again, make your own, or use a published resource.
See more ideas for Christmas and Easter in post #5 – Resources
There are many good resources for teaching children about God and our faith, you just need to look for them. Go to a Christian bookshop without children and spend time reading what is there. Trust your instincts. What my family loves, yours may not and vice versa.
The final post of this series (#5) will be a detailed suggested resource list.
Some final tips for teaching your faith:
- Make it fun!
- Make it a good family time, enjoy it together.
- Be involved yourself (learn the bible verse, have the kids test you)
- If possible, have both mum and dad teaching (although one is enough).
- Make it a priority. Find a time of day that works for you (eg. bedtime, breakfast table). If you set the pattern, the kids will make sure you follow it.