Friday, February 14, 2014

Ten Ways To Help Your Kids Fall in Love With Jesus

I have been disturbed lately about what my children are consuming in school, in the media, from their friends, and if we are doing enough to instill character and values with our kids.

We are undermined at every turn. Every TV show now portrays what used to be alternative lifestyles as normal, even to be celebrated. Yet, traditional Judeo-Christian values are being vilified and presented as "different" and no longer mainstream. At the same time, we are often so wrapped up in the fast pace of life we may take for granted that our values are being taught. And truthfully, perhaps this stress-filled, connected 24/7 life we lead may mean that some values aren't being "caught" either.

Well, the Holy Spirit had been gently urging me to be more intentional in teaching my children the ways of The Lord both in what I teach by my own actions and in what I teach intentionally. So, with it being Valentines Day, I thought I would share 10 Ways to help your children fall in love with Jesus.

1. Start small but be intentional

If your faith has been more of a personal thing or if you have left faith formation to the Sunday school teacher, it would be strange to go from little discussion about faith to daily Bible study. Work it in gradually, intentionally and authentically.

2. Tell stories and play games.

People remember stories. People relate to stories. The Bible is rich with stories. Read them to your kids before bed. Include at least one Bible story among your good night books. Make learning fun. Download interactive story books and apps. Make crafts to go along with the stories.

Resource: The Beginner's Bible  by ZonderKidz

3. Learn His word

Have a family memory verse each week. Recite it before dinner. Talk about what it means. Proverbs are a good place to start. 

Hang scripture up in your home (Check out DaySpring home collection). Study scripture through age appropriate Bible studies.

Resource: The Story for Little Ones, The Story for Children and The Story for Teens - age appropriate chronological presentation of scripture (NIV) published by Zondervan

I'm currently looking for a pre-teen/teen girl Bible study to do with my oldest. Any suggestions?

4. Daily prayer touch points

Pray before meals, pray at bedtime, work in time for prayer. Model talking to God formally and informally. And most importantly, pray for your children. 

Growing up in a traditional Catholic home, family prayer was mostly done at holiday meals. I knew my parents prayed and we did our night time prayers by the bed. But just having a conversation with God was rare (except for my grandma - who often called out to Jesus, Mary and Joseph). My husband's experience was similar. I was very active in both my southern Catholic (there is a difference between southern grown and northern born Catholics) and Southern Baptist youth groups (I know, right?) so I eventually became comfortable with casual conversations with God internally and out loud. I cherish both the traditional prayers as well as spontaneous spirit-led prayers and I need to make sure to model both types of communication with God for my children.

Resource: Praying the Scriptures for Your Children by Jodi Berndt 

5. Don't ignore culture disparity 

When you see behaviors and beliefs that differ from your family values, talk about it, pray about it and turn to scripture. This is something I am very aware of with my pre-teen right now. Culture shows her a world that does not align with our values. We have to talk about how her childhood hero Hannah Montana has faced challenges and made some bad choices as the grown up Miley Cyrus. We use these things as teachable moments.

6. Worship regularly

Go to church regularly and take your kids. Model what it is to be engaged and ready at Church. Sing worship songs at home and in your travels. Praise God for what you are thankful for throughout the day.

I confess the business of life has kept us from regularly attending Mass. By Sunday we are exhausted and attending Mass with my three kids is a little bit like attending a three ring circus but I must do better!

7. Serve each other

Serve your family and others. Engage your family in service projects. Find joy in helping others. Model that faith is extending yourself in service to others. Service projects we enjoy are giving gently used items to families that need them, participating in Operation Christmas Child, joining in community clean up days. One project we are looking forward to participating in this year is Sole Hope - which takes your old jeans and turns them into shoes for people in under developed countries.

8. Build community

Be active in your church and find fellowship with other Christians. Join youth group and church sports leagues and clubs to encourage a foundation of Christian friends. I am still connected to my friends in both my Catholic and baptist youth groups of my teen years. Those years and friendships build a solid foundation that even in my wandering years, kept me tethered to God.

9. Share our rich history and traditions

Become knowledgeable about your Bible and Church history. Learn about the saints who have gone before us. Observe holy days and sacred tradition with reverence and anticipation. See our family traditions for Lent and Advent. We have an epidemic of Bible illiteracy in America. We need to not only teach what the Word says, but also about the rich history of the church and the amazing story of the Bible's translation, dissemination and preservation for thousands of years. 

Resource: Guiding Your Catholic Preschooler by Kathy Pierce and Lori Rowland

10. Equip yourself and your family with a Christian world view

We need to teach our children to defend the faith in a secular society. We need to learn how to think critically about the messages bombarding us every day and discern how they relate to God's word. We need to know how to respond with love but in Truth.

Read How Now Shall We Live by Charles Colson and follow the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview online. 

Great resources for teaching a Christian world view to your family are:

Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson 
Footings for Children by Dwight Vogt and Karen Jacobsen

Please share your tips in the comments below and Have a Happy Valentines Day!