Monday, August 2, 2010

Raising kids with God at the centre – #1

Last post I outlined some things we want to remember as we think about raising kids with God at the centre.

The first goal we have is that our children:

Grow up in the knowledge and love of God as their heavenly Father, & 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 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 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 would really struggle to do this, perhaps get a hold of Leading Your Child to Jesus, by David Staal, reviewed here)

b) How do we teach children the things of God?

Using all opportunities at all times:
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 upon 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. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

Some things we can use to teach children about God:

1. God’s word (this is so important I’ll look at it separately in #3).

2. Resources

There are so many good resources these days for teaching children about God, you just need to look for them. I recommend going to a Christian book shop without children and spend time reading what is there, and be discerning – see if it’s any good. Trust your instincts. What my family loves, yours may not and vice versa. (I gave out a very detailed resource list at the seminar, I will reproduce some of it at the end of this series)

3. The world around us

- Use the world that God has made to teach of him - refer to things God made - people, the animals, the land, the rivers, etc

- Talk about the weather & the seasons – that God sends the rain and the sunshine

- Use the things around us to show how we can 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 has a job so we can buy things
  • that we can go to church safely, etc, etc.

4. 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”

5. Events of the year
  • Traditions - Noël Piper says that “Our children come to believe, probably unconsciously, that whatever is repeated regularly has significance.” (p34) & that “we must plan to reflect God and teach about Christ in the repeated events of our lives” (p35). (Treasuring God in Our Traditions, Piper)
  • Birthdays – 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.

The two big times of the year where you can plan to teach specifically about God are Christmas & Easter.

Christmas (& advent)
  • Make the decision to reclaim Christmas from Santa and commercialism – make it about Jesus in your house. If you don’t no-one else will, and this becomes 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 the Good Book Co (advent calendar packs) or 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!
  • If you follow through some of my previous posts on Christmas, you can find other ideas and these will also link to other blogs.
  • 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 the Easter Unscrambled (Good Book Company).
  • If you follow through some of my previous posts on Easter, you can find other ideas and these will also link to other blogs.

Some things to think about:
  • Which of these suggestions might you try with your children?
  • What traditions do you have in your family? Which ones can you include more purposeful teaching about God?

Next post in series:
#2 - Maturing in godliness; including character, speech & attitude

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