I recommend that every parent of young kids and every children’s ministry leader read this book – Give Your Kids the Keys: Navigating Your Child to a Personal and Sustainable Faith. I pulled this book off the Harvest table during one of our last events we hosted and decided to read it. Though it’s important to help grow and model faith for your children as long as you are alive, the single best time to help them go out into the deep water of faith in Jesus is when they are young. This book gives some great practical advice for accomplishing this. Here are just a few of those things:
1. Be a gas-pedal parent
Not to go to extremes, but too often, we parent out of fear rather than out of engagement. As a gas-pedal parent, we may need to slow down now and then, but don’t hit the brakes when the going gets tough. Responding to hurt in the world through the lens of the Gospel allows us to pass on the faith. Brakes equal fear. We don”t want our kids to be around the wrong crowd, so we put on the breaks. Instead of coming to a complete stop (or trying to), try engaging your child with people you do want them to be around. Otherwise, it’s like planning a vacation by determining where you don’t want to go. It’s a bit backwards. Active engagement in life, with a confidence in Christ, is what will help kids get a handle on faith and their desire to love Jesus. How are we to be in the world but not of it? By living an engaged life, confident in Jesus at work through us.
2. Discover Jesus every day
As your kids are young, unleash the Scripture. Jesus always told stories that included every day life and concrete examples right around those listening, including nature. Your car is the best laboratory. Look for ways to share the story of God. Where do you see God at work? How can we talk about God’s power as we are driving from here to there? Do you see mountains? What does God say about mountains? Did you know it was God who created those things? And He created you? Wow! Any number of things in nature can help teach kids the magnitude and power of God. What if we could break prayer and scripture free from the Sunday school hour, dinner time and bed time routines and include them on the way to a doctor visit, family vacations or a drive to ball practice. What if we left our homes 20 minutes early with the sole purpose of stopping by the park, sitting on a bench and reading a story from scripture. Discover Jesus in every day life and share it with your kids.
3. Teach kids to listen to the Holy Spirit
At times, we shelter our kids from learning to listen to God’s voice. Jesus told the first disciples to go on out into the deep. Invite your kids to pray for something big. Ask them to consider what God might be asking them to do. How would God lead them to respond during this tough time. When they have a tough decision to make or have had a bad experience with a bully at school, invite them seek the Spirit’s work in their lives as they respond. Give them opportunities to consider how God might be leading them. Remind them to seek God’s guidance for issues they are facing.
4. Develop a life of prayer that includes your kids
Which is better? To go fishing, then come back and tell your child the stories or take your child fishing with you? When we include our children in big prayers, they begin to experience first hand how God is at work. It’s not that God answers every prayer, but God responds as we pray. These intentional conversations are powerful as kids are growing. Cultivate it. Model it. Count on Christ to be at work as your kids pray.
The goal isn’t to just get them to become good, decent citizens that make it through school and get a good job. The goal is to help them move into their teens and twenties with a solid faith in Christ is that is rooted in personal encounters and experiences. With this foundation, the other things will fall into place. Without this foundation, they may not.
You can pick up a copy of Adam’s book here for $5!
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