Wednesday, 14 October 2015

10 Ways to Share your Faith with your Children

Lake baptism at our home and my childrne praying

It's funny how things don't work out as you imagine sometimes. When Cass at Diary of a Frugal Family asked me "how do you share your beliefs with your children and how do you encourage them to have faith too?" I had this idea that I'd write a crowd sourced post. I'd ask lots of Christian friends how they share their faith with their kids and put together a treasury of ideas.

It was all very simple in my head but what I forgot to factor in is that sharing your faith with your children is the norm when you are a Christian. It is an intrinsic thing, something you mostly do without having to think about it or orchestrate any special activities. So when I asked the question in a fabulous Christian FB group that I'm part of the kind of responses I got suggested involving your children in your everyday life and this is very true and really valid but it doesn't perhaps help a non-believer or a new believer know the mechanics of what to do.

It was 13 years ago now that my husband and I both became Christians and this means all our parenting years have been as committed Christians but neither of us had Christian parenting modelled to us as children and thus we were in new waters. We've learnt a lot in the last 12 years since we became parents and of course we are still learning but if there is one thing that I'd say is more important than anything else in sharing our Christian faith with our children it is to always show love.

We need to act with love at all times. When the kids are naughty, we have to love them, when they say something embarrassing in public we must love them and when they are screaming they hate us we have to love them back. How can we possibly expect them to develop the capacity to love unconditionally if they have not experienced it themselves?

This doesn't mean we act as pushovers, not at all. Kids need strong boundaries, they need discipline and they often need consequences but they always need these things implemented in a loving manner. God loved us first, so that we can love others, so that is what we do. We aim to keep our cool and show them they are completely and utterly accepted and loved. Not for what they do but for who they are.

Sadly there is nothing we can do to ensure our children choose the better path, the decision to give their life to Christ and to be saved has to come about because of free choice. As parents all we can do is model the joy of being a follower of Christ, provide opportunities for our children to learn more,  introduce them to other children alive with faith and pray. Jo at Mums Kids Jesus writes about how important it is for our kids to come to know Jesus at an early age.

As well as this overarching principle that guides our parenting as a whole, let me share with you some practical ways to share your faith with your children -

  1. Pray together. When they are young it is very easy to establish a short prayer routine after their bedtime story. We have always followed the formula of payers to say we are sorry, then to say thanks and lastly to pray for others/ ask for help. There are loads of ways to pray but this was something easy our kids could deal with and remember. Some families have set times each day/ week to pray together and this can really help your child's confidence grow.
  2. Let them see you read the bible or other Christian books/ magazines. My kids have all seen me read the bible most days since they were born and because of this they know it is important and time I cherish. As young children we read bible stories together and as they get older they are happy to read short parts of the bible to me or to themselves as they have seen it is an everyday part of our faith.
  3. I love Christian worship music and play it a lot.  My heart skips a beat when I hear my kids singing songs to praise Jesus without any prompting from me. I have played children's worship albums in the car when they were young and now we mix regular worship and pop music so they have a good mix.
  4. Bring Jesus into your everyday conversations. Miss M had nightmares when she was younger and it was Jesus we turned to to protect her in her sleep. When we are grateful for a wonderful day out, it is Jesus we thank and if I'm in pain then it is Jesus that I will seek healing from. It is so important that Christ is in the everyday and not just for Sunday. The kind of conversations the kids and I have in the car about challenging norms or opinions are so useful
  5. Make Jesus/ Christianity a regular topic of conversation. When we all sit down for dinner together we have a book that we take turns to read from. Our Daily Bread for Kids has 365 days of readings, activities and talking points for us to explore as a family. It is great that it is simple enough for everyone to be able to take turns to read and dh and I question further and explain anything difficult.
  6. Spend regular time with other Christian families. This could be at church, in social situations or once a twice a year when you go away on holiday/ retreat but it is so important for our children to see that their faith is normal and practised by many. t is also easier to be open about their faith if they have friends in the same boat.
  7. Show love in action. They say children learn what they live and not just what they are told. Our children have watched both dh and I travel to other countries to serve to help families in need. They make Christmas shoe boxes with me each year, they've helped to cook meals for those who otherwise could not afford to eat and they love giving little anonymous gifts and taking our pastoral group out for small treats.
  8. Get them involved at church. We are lucky to live in a Christian community nowadays which means our kids can join in with all sorts - worship, prayer stations, helping the smaller kids when we have activities and more recently JJ has started to help run the tech at our Church Sunday school.
  9. Bible study with your kids. I'll be honest and say we have not yet reached this stage. Both dh and I attend separate small groups where we study the bible and discuss issues but as the kids grow older it is important that we are actively involved in disciplining them and being available to discuss their issues further with scriptural input.
  10. Don't underestimate them. I think this last point is really important and it is not so much about sharing your faith but allowing your child to share theirs. When someone needs prayer, allow them to be involved. If there is an invitation for someone to go to the front of church and share their testimony, allow your child to if they feel called. Basically just do not limit them.

I hope this this is useful to you Cass and to anyone else reading.  If you have some more ideas for sharing your faith, then please do leave them in the comments.

Thanks so much for your input Erica, Miranda, Fiona, Leanne and Jo.  Mich x
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