I doubt if any Christian parent wants to “shove religion down the throat” of his child. But sometimes, we’re not sure how to get our kids to want to go to church or read their Bibles or have spiritually-stimulating conversations. We take them regularly, we buy them Bibles, and yet . . . . nothing.
What’s a Christian parent to do?
Try a new church? This may solve the problem or it may instigate a routine of church-shopping or staying home on Sunday. I don’t know. Every situation and family is different, but always looking for a new church or better youth group might just give your child a consumer mentality. Regardless of your church, all Christian parents can begin reaching the heart of their children for the Lord at home, on a regular basis.
God must have expected parents to do this because He commanded the Israelites with these instructions: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deut. 6:7)
God instructed his people to passionately and earnestly appeal to the hearts of the children, to talk about God–who He is, and what He does. he asked them to make their relationship with Him the center of their lifestyle. Not an add-on. Not a Sunday thing. The center. The source for everything else.
So how do we “impress” our kids without forcing outward obedience and inward rebellion? We teach them to love God and love what He loves. Kids’ hearts are soft and moldable, and they respond to love. Expose their hearts to the real power of God at work–to authentic believers and humble servants of God. Then let the Holy Spirit woo them. He’s really good at that. Put your kids in a place to hear, and let God speak to them (they’re so much better at hearing His voice that adults are!). And be careful not to overload their lives with so much activity that they can’t hear God speak and don’t have time to go someplace where He will speak.
Here are 8 practical tips for transferring your faith to your children. You’ll notice the suggestions form an acrostic of “TRANSFER,” because a list always makes more sense when you do something nerdy like this!–
Teach them Scripture; memorize verses together—nothing will keep kids safer that God’s voice in their heads!
Read the Bible and pray together; show how to establish personal Bible study; give them room to fail and keep trying. If you start reading to them at bedtime when they’re young, it will become an easier habit.
Ask them to consider spiritual decisions for salvation, baptism, communion, etc. Converse, but don’t push.
Nurture spiritual friendships for them; socialize with Christian families; this is a good way to show hospitality and caring for the body of Christ.
Support their secular connections by being present and helpful; go into their schools, hold neighborhood events, participate wherever they are. Be loving and inviting to unbelievers.
Find spiritual mentors, teachers, young adults, youth workers to influence them; have these leaders over; give them money to take your kids out for putt-putt or ice cream.
Expose your kids to real gospel ministry, like missions trips, serving the homeless, Operation Christmas Child, sponsoring a child, etc. Don’t be afraid to let your kids see poverty up close–that’s where compassion will develop in their hearts. That’s where they will see how God works and why we need to be involved.
Reach out of your comfort zone and show them how to trust God. Step out in faith to obey God yourself, and ask your kids to pray for you. Leading by example is the best way to model loving God.
Enjoy the adventure of reaching your kids’ hearts with the true gospel!
image by George Hodan