We parents stress over how to interest our children in spiritual things. Listed among "spiritual things" I include attending Bible class, worship, youth events, spiritual discussions at home, Bible Camp, prayer, Bible reading, and when they get older, helping at church events, such as VBS.
There is so much in the world to attract our children's attention away from spiritual things. Not all of these attractions are bad, such as sports or hanging out with (good) friends. But, they can be a distraction if they pull them away from family- or spiritually-based activities.
It is disheartening to see teenagers lose any and all interest in church and family functions. When I say "church" I don't just mean "attendance," but the whole experience of worship, youth programs, fellowship meals, visiting with older members, and a host of other spiritual and relational activities with other believers. How can we encourage children's faith and faithfulness during these tough, teenage years?
One thing is to start early. Start early taking kids to classes and worship. Start early letting them see you take meals to shut-ins, visiting in the hospital, mowing the grass for an invalid neighbor, and helping anyone who needs it. Let them know that is a natural extension of your love for God and people.
When Wes was five he heard an annoucement at church about someone being sick. He told his mother, "I think we need to bake some brownies and take it to them." Where did he learn that? From observing his Mom doing it for others.
Worship, service, Bible classes, Bible camp, Bible reading and prayer, you name it, start them early and allow these spiritual disciplines and functions to settle deelply into the hearts of our children. I sometimes have a child read a scripture or even give a lesson to the church when they are only 6 or 7 years old. Why so young? Because they are excited at that age, not scared.
Below is a video of two boys whose parents have the right idea about starting early. Can you imagine what kind of song leaders these boys will be when they are older? Ask many adults to lead a song or read scripture at church and notice how many decline! It's hard to start that as adults. These boys are being started before they know they are supposed to be nervous! Enjoy the show!
What are some things you have done or are doing in your home to develop an early faith-base in your children? If your kids are older, what can you suggest to young families to help them?
Note: I am hoping to reach some young families with this. I'll have a couple of more posts about encouraging faith and faithfulness in children. If you have any young families you can refer to this discussion, thank you.