By Joshua Earman
Help! How do I talk to my young kids about God?
What goes into bringing up a kid? Which of the following ingredients are you pouring into your child’s life: faith, love, family, traditions, education, sports, nutrition, friends, ethics, safety, fun, pizza? Other ingredients might include Minecraft, bullying, the environment, respect for adults, learning responsibility, fashion pressure, and of course, more pizza.
Parenting has gotten complicated. We hear family life described in terms like Helicopter parents and kindergarchy (when kids rule). Navigating through the terrain of choices is tricky. But the Bible says:
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:5-7 ESV)
This is the priority God gives to parents: to instruct their children about God and His ways. They are to become spiritually mature adults who know God’s word. While the church provides excellent support, it cannot substitute what a child learns in the home.
Our family has tried many different ways to do this and we’ve often failed. We tried to read scripture to the family once a day, which got stretched to once a week…to once a month. When kids are crying halfway through a family devotion, it’s the end of the lesson. When a parent wants to cry halfway through a family devotion, it discourages them from trying again.
In our home, we keep trying because we know how much we need Jesus’s presence in the life of our family so that our house doesn’t explode. It moves God-instruction up the ladder of priorities. We want our kids to know a life of faith, which includes scripture and songs of faith and applies to how we live this out today.
Despite our stuttering attempts at teaching our children about God, we see their understanding about Jesus and his character increase. We slowly see their character develop. They ask many more questions – questions that often tangle the faith of adults. Don’t freak out about questions and doubts. These are signs they want to understand.
How to get started again:
- Keep it simple. Have one point you are aiming to communicate.
- Keep it short. Don’t try to make up for lost time with an hour devotional. Short and frequent is how the schools teach every subject because they know how kids’ minds work.
- Keep calm. Kids will resist change, and if this is new, they will challenge you. Expect it, smile, and let them know you are committed to teaching them the most important truths for their existence.
- Keep sane by using resources available to you.
Look for helpful books. I picked out our favorites and made them available for sale on the bookshelf in the lobby at New Life. Our kids love stories and so you will find many of these use stories to connect a verse or Biblical truth to life.
I also recommend an interactive study called “Step Into my Shoes” created by Compassion International, which teaches children about life in an impoverished area. The production is excellent and captivated our children.
Remember, while we are putting the seeds of the gospel in our children’s hearts, God causes the growth. We are tempted to think the results are up to us, but that is God’s territory. Our role is to walk by faith and teach our children, leaving the results to Him.