If you're a Christian parent like me, then you know one of the things that brings you joy is when your child makes a good decision without you having to tell them to. My son, who happens to have been on punishment for the last two weeks, surprised me on three different occasions this past weekend. Without going into all the details, lets just say, the things I've been telling him to do, are finally starting to sink in a bit. But most of all, God is truly working in his life!
I'm so grateful because, as parents (especially Christians parents), we can sometimes get so caught up in our own "Christian lives" that we forget to include our children along the way. We focus on our journey to live for God and serve Him in different capacities, but sometimes neglect to incorporate the kids in the journey. Oh, we drag them along for the ride by default, but how much are we actually teaching them along the way?
If you've been following my blog, you already know my goal is all about teaching and encouraging other believers how to learn and utilize God's Word to enjoy their lives to the fullest. Well today, as I was reflecting back over this past week and the conversations I've had with my 12 year old, two questions came to mind: Are we teaching our kids the bible, so they too can learn how to enjoy life in Christ? And if not, how do we teach them?
So often our "teaching" ends up being some version or combination of the following things:
- "making" them go to church on Sundays
- "forcing" them to learn a few bible verses
- "making" them pray before meals and bedtime
- telling them to behave at school or they will be punished
- telling them not to use the Lord's name in vain
Outside of that, we may teach them a few other "Christian things" as they get older or start asking questions. Unfortunately, the end result is usually a kid who knows very little about God, the bible, why their parents are "Christians", or what it even means to serve God.
We MUST invest time into actually teaching our kids the bible and how to enjoy life in Christ. And NO, it should NOT be left completely up to the Sunday school teachers, youth leaders or pastors to do this. You don't need a theology degree to teach your kids the basics of Christianity. All you need is the bible. After all, as Christians, we should know what and why we believe.
As Christian parents, there is no reason, that we should be on our Christian journey to love God and enjoy life more, and not teach our kids how to do the same.
For this reason, I have put together a list of the top 10 things that we should be teaching our kids, in order for them to enjoy life in Christ. These are what I believe, to be the basic starting points for Christian kids of all ages.
Because I am writing specifically to Christian parents, the assumption is that at minimum, you have already shared the gospel message of salvation with your children, and that they have been introduced to and accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. However, if not, pause. STOP reading now. That is step #1.
If little Derek or Nicole is old enough to quote the lyrics to songs off the radio, log onto a computer, or scroll through a tablet, then they are old enough to be introduced to God!
And for those who have already introduced your kids to God, I say, keep teaching them! Teaching your kids about God never stops! Teach them to see God in everything. You can literally walk outside and simply look to the skies and just say "that's all God". Just teach them to know that God is our creator. That nothing and no one would be here without Him.
Teach them what you know about God's power, His love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. Teach them how He never leaves us, how He gives us strength, how He provides and protects. Again, you don't need a degree, just the Word of God to share about the goodness of our Lord and Savior. And throw in your personal life stories and experiences of who you know God to be. You will soon find yourself not just parenting your kids, but ministering to them as well.
NEWSFLASH: In case you didn't already know, in today's world, our kids from elementary school on up, are going through ALOT! Trust me they need you as a parent. But most importantly they need God! Check out my post on Back to School Parenting for some tips on how to ensure your kids have a great school year. Give your kids a chance to have their own testimonies about how God is working in their lives!
2. The Bible
You should have known this one was coming. Every post I write ties back to the bible! There is no way around it! Not only must we as adult Christians embrace the bible as the Word of God, but we absolutely MUST teach our kids to do the same.
Why do you think so many of our millennial Christians are spending little to no time reading or learning the bible? Most of them were not raised to see the value or relevance of the bible for them as believers. Most of them ONLY ever opened their bibles at church.
If we as parents don't teach our kids the importance of the bible now, it won't just magically become important to them as an adult.
But remember it all starts with us. If we don't value the bible, or spend time reading and learning it, how will we teach our kids to do so? And if you are unclear about why you as a parent need the bible, my post 10 Benefits Christians Pass Up By NOT Learning the Bible is a great place to start.
I don't know about you, but I NEVER want to force God or the bible on my child. However, I have a responsibility to teach him about God, His Word and why it is important.
We will NEVER truly enjoy life the way God intended us to, without spending time in His Word.
3. Fellowship (Church)
And this is the part where some of you will tune out or stop reading.....because you have 101 reasons to give me about why you no longer go to church. LOL!
Trust me, this post is not about me convincing you to go to church regularly. However, I do want to point out from Scripture what true fellowship is and what God intended it to be. The absolute BEST picture of this is depicted in Acts 2:42-47 (NIV):
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
Now you’re probably looking at this like, wait a minute, that was originally how fellowship was done? Where in the world does that happen today? Teaching, communion, prayer, miracles, unity, giving to those in need, praising God, and favor with all people. And they were doing this daily? Both in the temple and in their homes? And souls were actually being won for Jesus because of it?! No way!
Now in today’s modern age of busy lifestyles, we obviously aren't meeting together everyday. However, the basic principles of believers simply gathering together in unity, to hear the Word of God, pray, eat, help each other and enjoy one another's presence should be promoted as often as possible.
Regardless of your past experience with churches, "true fellowship" was always meant to be a part of and a huge benefit to the Christian journey. Just being around like minded people, with the same goal of learning about God, worshiping and serving Him, can be a source of spiritual encouragement on many levels. And sometimes, even if you aren't feeling encouraged, someone else is encouraged just by your presence.
The point here, is whether or not you go to church regularly, every once in a while, or haven't been years - we have a responsibility as Christian parents to teach our children about the importance of fellowship and how it can benefit them. Our goal should never be to tell our kids about all the bad things that could happen in church and how people can be hypocrites and so forth. We should be teaching them the Word of God. Teach them what God intended fellowship to be, why its important and why you go to church (or why you used to).
I'm not saying don't mention the negative aspects at all. I'm saying mention them as something to be aware of, rather than a reason for giving up on church altogether. The fact of the matter is, the world we live in is full of bad people and bad things. And yes, unfortunately, they are in our churches as well. But do we stop serving God because the people and world around us are going crazy? Do we pick an "Alternative God" because someone at some church ten years ago offended us? Sounds ridiculous right? Which is why we shouldn't teach our kids to do so either.
Also, keep in mind, that "fellowship" is NOT always done in an official "church" setting. Fellowship can be hosted in your home or at any Christian gathering or place. (i.e. Christian concerts, cookouts, retreats, seminars, etc.)
There are hundreds of thousands of churches. And finding the right one is not an easy thing. It can actually be very frustrating to the point that its definitely much easier to simply stay home on Sundays. The problem, in my opinion, is two-fold:
- we keep looking for the "perfect church" that doesn't exist (By the way, that same church mentioned in the passage above, eventually started having the same issues you see in churches today)
- we don't pray and ask God to direct us to the right church (which leads me to #4)
Imagine having access and authority to call on the Creator of all things, at any given moment. Imagine Him listening attentively, as you talk to Him about any and everything going on in your life. Your hurts, your fears, your secrets, your struggles, your weaknesses. The ability to laugh, cry, or even scream if necessary, never having to pretend that you’re ok when you’re not. Now, stop imagining, because as Christians, it is our reality!
We have this unrestricted access to God and yet we don't utilize it nearly as often as we should. Let alone teach our kids to do so. There is nothing we can't go to God with in prayer. Why would we not want to teach our kids how to do the same?
In fact, I've been using prayer a lot lately with my son. Whenever, he comes to me with an issue, I ask him if he prayed about it. And then, I proceed to pray with him about the situation. And thanks be to God that we've been able to see some favorable outcomes and learn some lessons as a result of our prayers lately!
Scripture not only tells us to pray, but it says we should pray, continually. In fact, it is actually God’s will that we do so.
The problem is that Christians tend to complicate what prayer really is. Simply put, prayer is talking to God. Having a conversation with Him. It’s not a speech, or formal monologue that we have to write out first to perfect or practice. He is our heavenly father and we are His children.
He has given us total and complete access to Him 24/7. Next to His Word, prayer is the other most powerful tool that goes neglected among Christians.
We absolutely MUST teach our kids about the importance, privilege and power of prayer in our Christian lives. Make sure they know that they can talk to God anytime. And if you as a parent are struggling with what to pray for or how to pray, check out my post: Do Christians Know What to Pray For?
5. Faith (Trust in God)
Having faith in God and trusting Him doesn't just happen overnight when we become Christians. Even as adults, if we are being honest, when we look back in retrospect, we know that who we are in Christ now was a journey that happened over time. And we still haven't perfected the whole "trust" thing!
So often we put our trust in others, in material possessions, and even in ourselves. But ultimately all those things will fail us at some point. There are going to be so many days in this life where we simply will have no other option, choice or anyone to turn to, but God. It will be in those moments where the ability to trust in Him will become most important.
Why would we not want to teach our kids how to put our faith and trust in God? Between the peer pressure, bullying, temptation to lie, cheat, steal, do drugs and have sex - there are tons of things that they will be confronted with. And they have so many emotions that they will experience throughout the process. Childhood, youth, and the teenage years will be a total roller coaster both for them and for us.
However, there are so many promises that God makes to us in the bible. Promises that if we know them and stand on them during times of trouble, frustration, sadness, loneliness, worry, doubt, stress and even depression, will carry us through.
It is so vital to teach our children to utilize the same tools that the Holy Spirit has given us. It's one thing to accept God as your Lord and Savior, but it's another thing to learn to continuously put your faith and trust in Him day after day.
As we learn to do it more and more, lets remember to show our kids how to do the same. Start teaching them now, that life is hard, tough and difficult. But we have a God who is bigger than all things. A God we can put our complete faith and trust in to work wonders in our lives.