By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
In a world filled with so many voices, it can sometimes feel like a challenge to get through to your children as a parent. How do we make the truth of Jesus real in a world of busyness and distraction? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question but here are a few ideas to inspire you to keep the Gospel front and center in your home.Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Louis
1. Make connecting with God apart of your family routine
Our lives are built on the habits we form! If we want to make God real for our kids we have to make Him a consistent part of our daily lives. Find a time of day you regularly are together as a family and dedicate it as a time to read and pray as a family. Our kids at home are young, so we still have a pretty elaborate bedtime ritual. We’ve made reading from an age appropriate bible or devotional and then praying together apart of the bedtime routine.
If your kids are older you might frequently spend time in the car together. This is a great time to say a prayer and listen to the Bible together or a faith-centered audiobook. If dinner time is a sacred space for your family, let that be the time you all connect with God’s word and spend time in prayer as a family. One idea would be to make popsicle sticks with names of people you all want to pray for and place them in a cup on the table. Each night, pull a name and pray for that person as a family. Take the name out once the prayer is answered. This is a great way to account for the ways God answers your prayers as a family.
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2. Share openly with your kids how God is working in your life
For kids it can be hard to wrap their heads around what it looks like to serve a BIG yet personal God. Show your kids what it means to know God by sharing what He is doing in your life and in your heart as a believer in an age appropriate way. Are you praying for a promotion or job change? Ask your kids to pray with you and when God provides, they can know what it is to rejoice over answered prayer with you. Are you reading through the new testament to learn more about who Jesus is? Share your favorite verses with your kids and tell them why they speak to your heart. Choose a verse to memorize as a family. Has God come through for your or spoke to you in an undeniable way in the past? Share the testimony of how God has worked on your behalf with your kids. Their hearts will be encouraged to know God cares about you.
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3. Connect with a faith community
Find a safe place your family can connect with other believers. Attending a local church weekly, joining a small group, finding a community bible study in your area, or getting involved with other ministries is a great way to show your kids that God is real for not only you but for your community! Kids need to see that God speaks differently for everyone and is relevant in our world today. They need to hear how God is working in the church.
Building relationships as a family with other believers gives your children a wide net of trusted mentors they can learn from and lean on as they grow into adults. There may be a moment when they won’t be as comfortable bringing a concern to you, but how amazing would it be in those bittersweet moments if there was another adult in close relationship that could speak life and truth into their lives when they need it.
Faith communities also offer the chance for your kids to rub shoulders with peers that share the same set of values. The testimony and actions of Christ-following friends of a similar age can be a huge boost to your child’s faith journey. Typically, churches offer great spaces to learn more about the bible and ask the questions your kids may have about God. Churches offer classes such as children’s church, Sunday school or youth group that aim to share who God is in an age-appropriate and engaging manner. It truly takes a village! The church is a great way to grow your families “village.”
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4. Model the love of Christ in your home
One of the best ways to make God real for your kids is to show them the love of Christ! This doesn’t mean you have to be a perfect parent that never loses your temper or never says “no”. It means creating a stable home environment where everyone is heard, feels love and is regarded with respect. It’s hard to believe in a loving God if your daily life is tumultuous. It’s also a challenge for your kids to believe that your God is real and worth following if your life doesn’t reflect His love. Our kids crave the real deal and if we aren’t living for Jesus, they won’t be fooled.
If your struggling in an area, be open and genuine. Ask for forgiveness when you fail as a parent. When your child pushes your limits be firm but always kind and loving. Our kids should feel secure and unconditionally loved in our homes. Then when it comes time to share with them they are created by an amazing God who loves them, they will have no trouble believing this to be true, they will already know what His love feels like from you!
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5. Serve others as a family
Young kids want to help. If they see a homeless person on the drive home, they want to give them their bed. Give them the chance to live out their faith and be the hands and feet of God by serving others. There is something powerful about meeting the needs of someone else . Us modeling sacrifice and compassion speaks volumes about who God is. Even if your kids drag their feet on the way out the door to serve, they will come back energized and ready to do more! Loving other is infections. Serving others is one of the most tangible ways we can model the heart of God for our kids.
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6. Honestly answer their questions about God
Kids come up with the craziest questions! A few years ago, our four year old son, grilled us on who God is. He is no fool and He wanted to know the details on God before buying in. He asked what the Bible had to say about Creation, sin, death, heaven and a whole other host of deep theological inquiries! It hasn’t been easy to answer all of his questions, especially since there is a limit to how complex a four year can think.
Nonetheless, I am so glad our kids feel comfortable bringing their questions to us. As he has grown, our ability to answer such questions has improved and thankfully we’ve set the precedent that questions about God are safe to ask in our home. Honestly, there were times that we didn’t have great on-the-spot answers. We’ve had to say we don’t know or ask for some time to search for an answer for our kids.
God isn’t scared of our questions and we shouldn’t be scared when our kids ask them. We may even have to join together in prayer with our children and ask that the Holy Spirit reveal the answer to their hearts. What an experience for our kids to know that they can go not just to us, but straight to God with the quandaries of our hearts.
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7. Spend time as a family in nature
God’s creation is an amazing testimony of who He is. The complexity and creativity of everything from cells to sunsets are truly mind boggling. Experiencing and even studying the beauty of all God has made is a great way to experience God’s majesty. What else can breathe life into the lion? Who else could fabricate the intricate web of the food chain or the water cycle? Life is far too complex and perfectly orchestrated to be on accident. Humans have a lot of abilities but they never will be able to craft a butterfly from a cocoon. Pointing our kids to the wonder of what God has made is a great way to make Him feel real in their lives.
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8. Help our kids learn to guard their hearts
Proverbs 4:23 instructs us to guard our hearts. If we want our kids to know God, we have to also protect them from the things of this world that would pull them away from God. Teach them the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) so they have the skills to navigate the temptations of this world. Set boundaries in your home so exposure to toxic forms of media is avoided. Talk with your kids about the kinds of people they choose to be friends with and help them evaluate if the people around them are safe. Let them know how valuable they are to you and to God so they aren’t looking for love in meaningless places. Boundaries help protect us all and as a parent we are their to help our kids find the life giving path that leads to Jesus. That path can be hard to follow but the benefits far outweigh our momentary sacrifices.
Prayer is step one in being parents that point to Jesus. Take this list and pray over how you can use it or pray God will reveal any other step you need to take as a family to make God real in your home. The first place in our lives that we should be making disciples is in our homes. So start small and start today in creating a home that operates in a way that shows that God matters.
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Amanda Idleman is a wife, homeschooling Momma to three amazing kids and is passionate about encouraging others to live joyfully. Amanda also loves to write as a freelance writer and on her blog (when she finds a spare moment for it). You can find out more about Amanda at her blog rvahouseofjoy.wordpress.comor follow her on Instagram at rvahouseofjoy.