As Christian parents, we can feel the weight of responsibility for guiding the next generation toward a meaningful relationship with God. As we have learned from our experience with any school institution, aptitude is not accurately measured with a test, just as spiritual growth is not measured by how much of the Bible you know.

Spiritual growth has everything to do with the relationship we cultivate with our Creator, by consistent and genuine engagement with His Word and trying our best to live a life that honors Him. What if our single objective was to let our mind transform our heart?

In Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus answers the Pharisees when tested with this question: Teacher, what is the greatest commandment of the Law? Hoping Jesus would reference one of the Levitical black and white, do’s and don’ts, Jesus instead quoted Moses from Deuteronomy 6:

‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’

The same verse that tells us to love God with all of our hearts also commands us to love Him with all of our minds. The heart cannot love what the mind does not know.*

How Will They Know?

My hope is for my kids to understand the great love of our Father God, to fall unashamedly in love with the Jesus who gave everything for them, and the Spirit that leads them through this life until we get to meet Him in heaven. My hope is for the gospel message to become real for them, because this is what they need to know and understand in order to respond in relationship to this God who loves them so much and has a plan for their lives.

They will know this God by hearing and praying, and talking, and living it out with Mommy and Daddy. That’s the responsibility we have as parents. Does every child raised with Jesus continue on that faith journey? Not always. Is there a formula for producing Bible believing Christians? Nope, and that’s God’s job, not mine. The outcome is His, but He tells us as parents to be involved in the process.

How will they learn to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength? By watching us do it. I want to introduce the basic faith skills that you can have in mind to practice in your home to draw your child’s heart closer to God.

Practical Faith Skills for Every Phase

I had the privilege of serving at the HIM Conference this year (Hawaiian Islands Ministries) with over 1,300 attendees, church workers and other believers from all over the state and other countries. One of my favorite workshops was with Kristen Ivy , Director with the Rethink Group and Orange Curriculum.

She introduced The Phase Project, a collaborative effort where church leaders and families synchronize the efforts of all leaders and establish consistency of the gospel in the lives of kids and teenagers from preschool through college. Based on their research, Kristen presented four practical faith skills that kids need in every major stage of life to be connected to God in their world. This research is based on our social science understanding of child development, their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

Hear

Preschool

Read Bible stories; repeat simple Bible verses. They need repetition to own it. Music settles these truths deep in their heart.

Elementary

Purchase a kid’s Bible (on their reading level), memorize scripture together, games / competition that give them opportunities to win and learn at the same time.

Middle School

Purchase a youth Bible on their level, encourage devotional habits. They begin to be introspective around 4th grade so they’re ready by this age to think about deep topics.

High School

Encourage devotional habits, relate scripture to their present circumstances, speak the truth in gentleness and respect.

Pray

Preschool

Pray for them, encourage them to pray with you

Elementary

Encourage them to pray with you, pray for them while you’re with them (model prayer about real, daily issues, large or small). Show them they can take their fears and God and that He wants to help them.

Middle School

Ask how you can pray for them regularly, give them practical strategies for prayer (i.e., Praise, Admit, Request, Thank or 3 Kinds of Prayers: Requests (answered in yes, no, or wait), Gratitude, Forgiveness)
***Important to Know*** 60% of the cerebral cortex is lost during these years, it will be easy for them to forget. A lot.

High School

Ask how you can pray for them regularly. Give them opportunities to pray with you. Follow up after you pray for them.

Talk 

Preschool

Singing simple worship / Bible songs together (i.e., Jesus Loves Me), answer faith questions, repeat basic truths (i.e., God made me, God loves me, Jesus wants to be my friend forever)

Elementary

Share the story of when you trusted Jesus, talk about your present faith walk, repeat basic truths (i.e., I can trust God no matter what, I can make a wise choice, I should treat others the way they want to be treated)

Middle School

Don’t be shocked by hard questions, share some of your doubts and struggles, ask questions that help them personalize their faith.
***Important to Know*** They love to throw topics out there and process out loud, however awkward the timing or context may be. Push them to personalize the issue and be introspective.

High School 

Be transparent and welcome questions. Talk about how you’ve seen God work in their life, the role of the faith community and why it matters. Remind them of specific moments.

Live

Preschool

Prompt them to share and help, play simple worship & Bible songs as you go, give them an adult job in the church (i.e., pass out napkins, stack Bibles, greet people), let them feel like the church needs them and they are part of the community of that faith community.

Elementary

Serve friends and family together (i.e., meal train to new moms or people out of surgery),each them to have a saving / giving bank, play their favorite worship songs on the go.

Middle School

Serve the church or community together, encourage a local mission trip with family

High School 

Empower them to serve weekly in church or their community, encourage a foreign mission trip, talk about money and finances (i.e., saving, spending, tithing)

 

Parents, let’s create an environment in our home and family lives where that God connection is automatic and natural. Your love and trust in the Lord will overflow from your spirit when you’re walking with Him, loving His Word, and seeking His righteousness. Your kids will see and feel that.
Be sensitive to teachable moments as you connect attitude, behavior, and response back to the love of God and the protective guidelines and promises He gives us in His Word. Teach them diligently, and let God do the rest. He is faithful.

 

“…this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgements which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you…so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes…all the days of your life, and that your days might be prolonged.”

“…Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.

You shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up…”

By |2017-09-03T19:19:09+00:00April 19th, 2017|Faith, Parenting|2 Comments

About the Author:

Jennifer Bryant is the wife of a good man and mother of two precious kids. Her favorite things include, reading, organizing, blogging, singing with her kids, laughing out loud with her husband, and making food for people. She lives in Honolulu, Hawaii and dreams of taking her family on marvelous adventures across the globe. In the meantime, she blogs about life and family, and encourages others to build practical skills for healthy communication, simple living, and discover their awesomeness. Read more of her posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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