I don’t anticipate my children will concoct scientific learning labs in the kitchen to reinforce the Bible passage they’ve read for the day. Nor do I expect that one will stack couch cushions to build the walls of Jericho while the other unearths Dad’s trumpet from his ’80s glory days to blow the wall down. As parents, we desire creative ideas for bringing faith into the home; however only the most imaginative thinkers (with similarly gifted children) will have the time or mental energy to do this.
Children need to know that practising faith is often quiet, reflective, and expressive. But parents and mentors need to make it happen.
On Jan. 17/18, 2014, Northwest hosted the Transform Conference, with Awana Canada and FamilyLife Canada joining as title sponsors. Keynote speaker Mark Holmen, of Faith@Home, shared some distressing statistics.
Although teens say by far the greatest spiritual influencers in their life are their parents,
- only 27% have experienced either family devotions, prayer or Bible reading within the home,
- only 28% have talked about faith with their mom,
- and only 13% with their dad.
Deuteronomy 6:1–25 stresses the importance of remembering the loving commands and provision of the Lord, and impressing them on your children. What does that look like with children? Here are some keep-it-simple strategies.
Read the Bible. Devotionals are great, but they often don’t go beyond morals-based teaching. Reading full Bible passages plants the stories into the child’s mind, allowing children to gain an understanding of the narrative of Scripture, and more importantly, the character, actions, and person of God.
Pray. Prayer should be heartfelt and honest. Teach your children ACTS: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. When life is far from simple and we don’t know what to pray for, let your child know the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans (Romans 8:26). Demonstrate that you can write your prayers, draw your prayers, walk or dance your prayers, and pray through music or poetry.
Give. Teach children about tithes and offerings. My sister-in-law has three piggy banks for each of her children labelled “God,” “Savings” and “Spending.” For every dollar earned, each jar gets its designated percentage. If you’re grocery shopping with young children, buy something for the sole purpose of putting it in the food bank box after checking out. From your example, children will learn generosity and that everything they have comes from God.
Memorize Scripture. For some this is easy; others break out in hives at the thought of it! My eldest son can memorize after simply reading a verse, but with my youngest, we make up actions or put the words to a familiar melody. Even if the words aren’t learned perfectly, the truth of the passage will stay in the child’s heart and mind (Proverbs 22:6). God will bring these words to mind when the child needs a particular truth in his or her life.
There are many simple ideas. Do what makes sense to the children you love, and don’t burden yourself with guilt. Join the parents who attended the conference and have already implemented strategies to bring faith into the home. Be relieved to know as one mother commented, “That it’s okay if faith talks occur while driving in the car instead of when eating at the dinner table.” As a pastor I once spoke with stated, “The one thing you do this week is better than the nothing you did last week.”
Then watch the Spirit work in the life of your family. Whether life presents joys or tribulations, the value of practicing and teaching faith in the home will be felt as you “soar on wings like eagles” (Is. 40:31) or “take refuge in the shadow of his wings” (Ps. 57:1).
And once you start, you may soon find yourself encouraging another family to likewise bring faith into their home.
A version of this article first appeared in the MB Herald.