How Telling the “Christmas Story” Might Weaken Your Kids’ Faith

When you are fighting a battle, it’s important to know your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. Whether you realize it or not, you are in a constant battle with Satan for your kids’ souls.

Satan is a tricky opponent. He can use all sorts of statements from people in the secular world to confuse your kids. He uses the writings of people from other faiths to cause your kids to question basic faith tenets.

One of Satan’s most devious tricks is taking the teachings of well meaning Christians and pointing out all of the flaws with what they said. These flaws could be a simple misunderstanding, a result of poor memory or weak logic. Unfortunately, many times we could prevent these flaws, but fail to do the research our opponents do to rid our teachings of mistakes.

Christmas is one of those places where error is often innocently taught. Young people can easily find those mistakes. Instead of understanding they were unintentional mistakes of well meaning Christians, adolescents and young adults may allow them to undermine their faith.

When telling any Bible story to kids or teens, it is crucial that you are accurate. Don’t add details that the Bible omits. Here are some things commonly taught about Christmas that could later become a stumbling block for a struggling young person.

  • Christ was born on Christmas Day. We don’t have any idea when Jesus was actually born. Many believe, it is more likely Jesus was born in the Spring or Fall. You can tell your kids some Christians chose this day to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but not because they knew it was his actual birthday.
  • There were three wisemen. We actually don’t know for sure how many wisemen traveled to worship Jesus. The number three became attached because the wise men brought three gifts. Similar groups historically had five or more men and possibly their servants, too. (They also weren’t the kings of the Christmas song. They were magi or wisemen.)
  • Mary rode to Bethlehem on a donkey. Since she was pregnant, it is not hard to believe she did ride a donkey to keep from having to walk that far. The Bible, however, makes no mention of how Mary and Joseph got to Bethlehem.
  • Jesus was born in a stable or barn. While we know Jesus was swaddled and laid in a manger, the stable part is a bit of a misconception. There are two common opinions of what actually happened. One was that animals often spent the night in a cave. The other is that Mary and Joseph were staying with relatives. The guest room was full of other relatives, so they were staying on the first floor of the house. Many households with only a few animals brought them into the first floor of the home at night. (This still happened in places like Ireland hundreds of years after Jesus.) There weren’t what we would call traditional wooden stables or barns in the area at the time of Jesus.
  • The shepherds and wisemen showed up the night Jesus was born. While the shepherds may have come the night Jesus was born, we are pretty sure the wisemen arrived much later. Their journey was long and King Herod later killed all of the boys under the age of two years, indicating he believed Jesus was probably not a newborn.
  • Jesus was born in 1 A.D. The calendar thing can get confusing. The Bible doesn’t give us the exact year of Jesus’ birth. Based on other information provided in Luke about rulers, most historians believe it is more likely Jesus was born about 5 B.C. (or B.C.E.)

Do any of those details really matter? In the larger scheme of things, the only thing that really matters is that Jesus was born, fulfilling Old Testament prophecies and later died and rose from the dead. If you are telling the story to your kids though, the details do matter. Making up details or repeating details that are misunderstandings can give Satan a tool to use to create cracks in the faith foundations of your kids. It’s worth getting the details right.

Simple Ways to Point Your Kids to God

A recent Barna study found kids and teens who grew to be faithful, productive Christians as adults had been exposed to an average of about 2 hours of spiritual content a day.

Before you start to panic, the good news is that it doesn’t all have to be formal instruction (Note: Sending your kids to a Christian school, doesn’t remove the need for you, as their parents, to provide spiritual content for them.) Things like praying and having people over to eat count towards the total.

In fact, there are lots of rather simple things you can do to increase your kids’ exposure to spiritual content each day. Here are a few of our favorites.

  • Have faith conversations in the car. If you’re a parent, you probably spend a lot of time in the car with your kids. As you talk about life, make sure to point them towards God whenever possible. These spiritual discussions are a key factor in building a strong faith foundation.
  • Have drive by prayers. Don’t close your eyes if you are driving, but get in the habit of having short prayers motivated by things you see as you drive. Anyone can notice something and lead a drive by prayer for it.
  • Make time for family devotionals. You make time to read your kids lots of secular books and encourage them to read independently. Why? Because you have heard it will help them do better in school. Make an effort to read the Bible to your kids and encourage them to read it independently. Having a strong faith foundation is even more important than doing well in school.
  • Make worship services and Bible classes a priority. When you regularly skip church and Bible class for other activities, you send the message that those are things are good to do only if there isn’t anything better available.
  • Serve others and share your faith. Serving others and sharing your faith should be as much of your family DNA as your last name and your holiday traditions. You will initially do these things as a family. As your kids grow older, their individual service and faith sharing should be as common as what you do as a family.
  • Let your kids have their friends over. Hospitality is a major part of the home life of kids who grow up to be faithful Christians. It doesn’t have to be formal entertaining either. Letting them invite their friends to your house counts. So do visits by neighbors and extended family.
  • Do things with other Christian families. Don’t wait for your church to plan something organized. Meet another family at the park, take a hike with a group from church or grab a fast food lunch after church with others.
  • When you take your kids to a museum, look for sections covering cultures in the Bible. Many museums have sections with artifacts from the Egyptians, the Romans, the Assyrians, the Greeks and other cultures in the Bible. You may find lots of artifacts mentioned in the Bible like oil lamps, Torah scrolls, mummies (Jacob and Joseph’s bodies were mummified in Egypt), even some of the idols like Baal. (Note: In some museums, artifacts from Israel will be found in a section called Levantine or Levant culture.)
  • Take your kids outside. The Bible teaches us that creation points to God. Take your kids on a hike, to the beach, to an aquarium or zoo. Point out how amazing God is and how much He loves us.

Helping your kids build strong faith foundations and grow to their godly potential takes intentionality. Once you make the time though, the things you need to do are actually rather basic. Don’t let anything stop you from teaching your kids about God.

Family Faith Stories Your Kids Need to Hear

Teaching your kids about God requires more than just reading the Bible to them. Your children need to understand why Christianity is so important to you. They need to know what all of God’s commands and principles look like in real life.

One of the best ways to have those conversations is to share family faith stories with your kids. Children love to hear family stories. Why not make some of your family stories about the faith you and your family have in God?

So what are good family faith stories to share with your children? Here are some of our favorites.

  • Baptism stories. Not just of the baptism itself, but what you were thinking at the time. Share why you think it was important to be baptized. Explain why you are glad you became a Christian. Talk about how you felt coming up out of the water. Sometimes the details of a baptism can have funny elements to them and it’s okay to share those, too. In fact, those little fun details can make the more serious parts of the story more memorable.
  • Stories of times you were aware of God working in your life. Don’t let words like “luck” and “coincidence” creep into your family stories. God is still working in the world today. Give Him the credit He deserves when those amazing things happened in your life.
  • Stories of experiences that made you keenly aware of God’s existence. Often these stories involve an experience in God’s creation – nature – but they don’t have to be limited to that. Sometimes God is just as present in a beautiful piece of music or art or something else we usually attribute to humans. God gives us talents, so the results of using them are also part of His creation.
  • Stories of answered prayers. Stories of times when God granted your requests are important for children to hear. Perhaps even more important are the times when God asked you to wait or denied your request. Share with your kids how you learned of God’s amazing wisdom as time revealed why granting your request would not have been in your best interest.
  • Stories of your Church family helping you become more faithful. Many young people struggle with seeing the advantages of being engaged in Christian community. They see the problems people cause, but miss noticing the advantages. God wants His people to be part of a vibrant Christian community. Telling your kids stories of how fellow Christians helped you through difficult times, encouraged you or helped you grow and mature can help your kids understand why God wants them to be involved in a local congregation.
  • Stories of times when you learned obeying God’s commands really was best for you. Some of God’s commands may seem outdated to your kids. Yet, God meant those commands for all time. It’s crucial to show your kids how God will always be wiser than people.

You may have other faith stories to share with your kids and that is wonderful. Encourage other family members to share their faith stories, too. The more faith stories your children hear, the more they will understand how God works and why being a Christian is so important.

Top Tips for Raising Greed Free Kids

Have you seen the viral post claiming to have found a way to cure holiday tantrums over toys? Evidently, the mom struggled with her child having melt downs in toy aisles of stores because she wanted something from Santa right then.

The mom’s solution? Take a photo of the child holding the toy to “send to Santa”. She claimed the child immediately calmed down and often even forgot she wanted the toy.

As a Christian parent, I have so many issues with this supposedly wonderful idea. Beyond the implied lie to the child that she will indeed get everything she wants from Santa (the mother had no intention evidently of giving her child most of those toys), the solution feeds a greedy, entitled heart.

There are several more effective ways of avoiding the “child melting down in the toy aisle” scenario. In fact, doing these things consistently can help you raise kids who don’t become greedy at all.

  • Stay out of toy aisles and toy stores with your child. Showing kids aisles and aisles of things they didn’t even know existed, only tempts them to want those things. Why encourage greed? The only time a child should be on any toy aisle is to quickly choose a present for someone else. Even in those cases, discuss ahead of time which toy you will probably purchase, find it quickly and immediately move to the checkout or another less tempting section of the store.
  • Avoid commercial television, catalogs and other advertising. Advertising is another way children become convinced they need something they didn’t even know existed until they saw the ad.
  • Explain the family budget in age appropriate ways. Even young children can understand how hard their parents work to earn the money you have. They also need to understand that God wants us to give money back to Him and to help others first. After that, there are bills that must be paid. Your family must also save money for things like college, family vacations and to repair the car when it breaks down. The little money left is for fun things like toys. You never want your children to worry about money, but they need to understand there isn’t an unlimited supply either.
  • Limit presents to Christmas and birthdays. If they want anything between those holidays, they must earn and save the money for those items by doing extra little jobs around the house or saving their allowance. Regularly giving your kids toys for no real reason makes them think they may just get everything they want – especially if they make it clear it is something they want badly.
  • Never reward tantrums. Your kids need to understand the quickest way to make sure they never receive a toy is to pitch a tantrum about wanting it. For older children, you may have to make a similar rule about continual begging for an item.
  • Set a good example. If you constantly talk about the things you want, spend too many hours and too much money shopping for non essential items, you can’t expect your kids to act differently.
  • Make sure your family finds giving more rewarding than receiving. Make regularly serving others and sharing the things you have a family priority. Focus more on how your family can give than how your family can accumulate more things for yourselves. When unexpected money comes into your family, give God a portion first.

You won’t banish greed from your child’s life by snapping a picture of him or her in a toy aisle. You can, however, by helping your child grow a godly, generous heart. It takes more time and effort, but it’s actually effective.

Teach One Reach One Ministries Impact Statement 2019

Many of you may not be aware that Parenting Like Hannah is actually part of the larger Teach One Reach One Ministries. As a 501c3, we wanted you to be aware of how your donations are spent. I never receive any compensation from the ministry, as we want those we serve to use their funds for ministering to others. In spite of our frugality, there are still expenses our ministry incurs during the course of a year. Your donations are tax deductible and will give us more opportunities to minister to others through translating resources, building our website, providing more workshops and training, supplying free ministry resources and creating our first free ministry textbooks. Thank you for your support of our ministry!

It’s difficult to create a ministry impact statement. Ultimately, Teach One Reach One Ministries belongs to God. We are merely His servants attempting to go where He leads us and minister to those we can along the way. Only God knows how the spiritual lives of individuals may have been impacted by our ministry this year. We are only sharing where He has led us and what we did while there in an effort to help you understand how we spend the money you donate to us.

  • Added over 250 new free resources to the website, not including hundreds of new blog posts.
  • Advertised four times in the Christian Chronicle to make more Christians aware of our free resources. As a result of our paid advertising, Christian Chronicle also provided several free ads online resulting in even more exposure.
  • Had over 12,000 unique visitors to the primary Teach One Reach One website (that number will be higher by year’s end), a 30% increase over the previous calendar year.
  • Reached people in 144 countries on six continents. The top 10 countries accessing our website this year were the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Philippines, Nigeria, India, Australia, South Africa, Kenya and France.
  • Over 2400 people accessed our free baptism study, while another over 1600 users looked into our free teen curriculum and over 1200 looked into our free children’s Bible lessons. Thousands of others went directly to individual resources and lessons on the website.
  • Taught six weeks at the Ukrainian Bible Institute. Three of those weeks were online and three onsite in Kiev, Ukraine.
  • Added new free resources to the website in Russian.
  • Began teaching a cluster of Churches of Christ in India, Nepal and Bangladesh representing 75 congregations. These online classes will be ongoing through at least the first half of next year. We were invited to visit, but are currently unable to due to adverse and dangerous political and religious issues in those countries.
  • Helped Mission to Ukraine develop and implement best practices in special education in their ministry to families who have children with special needs. This included introducing them to IEP’s, IEP conferences, and teaching parents how to homeschool their children with special needs (most of whom are not currently allowed to enroll in public schools). Spent time encouraging better communication between teachers, therapists and parents and overseeing initial IEP conferences. Continued encouraging parents to take their children with special needs into public areas – especially church – more often. Currently having regular video call sessions with leaders, teachers and/or parents.
  • Visited Romaniv orphanage for young men with special needs. Analyzed their facilities for possible ways to provide more visual stimulation with interactive murals. Assisted in lunch preparations to observe improvements in how the young men are fed. Purchased wash cloths and gave skills analysis sheets of self care skills like bathing, hand washing and teeth brushing. Currently the majority of the men are not receiving these services, nor have they been taught how to do them for themselves. These aids are allowing volunteers and staff to teach the men self care skills in ways that are most appropriate for the way they learn. Also taught one Bible class for some of the young men. Currently working with an artist in Atlanta who is designing murals and creating patterns for them to use in painting various areas of the orphanage.
  • Taught at a Ladies’ Day for multiple congregations (approximately 15) in Ukraine. The day included several sessions on children’s ministry with several hands on activities for participants.
  • Taught several women’s small group Bible studies for three different congregations in the Kiev area.
  • Assisted an ESL ministry in Kiev and a potential one in Zhytomir by providing a framework and some resources for them to use.
  • Conducted an informal training session for children’s Bible class teachers at a church in Zhytomyr.
  • Had numerous personal mentoring conversations on a wide variety of topics while in Ukraine – some personal and some ministry.
  • Taught three foster parent training sessions for GA Agape foster and adoptive parents.
  • Scheduled to conduct a training session for at risk parents served by Atlanta Inner City Ministries at their Hope for the Family Christmas event.
  • Responded to various email and phone requests for assistance with ministry issues from all over the United States and in several additional countries.
  • Led a weekend of strategic planning sessions for the Hope Center, an at risk pregnancy ministry that provides alternatives to abortion.
  • Conducted a weekend of Christian parenting sessions in Benton, Tx.
  • Conducted training and helped plan and execute a congregational multigenerational service day in Newport News, VA.
  • Conducted children’s ministries workshops in Lubbock, TX.
  • Provided free resources to attendees at the various workshops including handouts and items to encourage them to do the things we are training them to do.
  • Provided over 150 pounds of resources to ministries in Ukraine (items unavailable to them locally) and a packet to a ministry in Uganda.
  • Continued researching in the fields of education, Christianity, brain science and other relevant fields and passed on helpful information in blog posts, seminars, workshops and conversations.
  • Read and reviewed multiple books in an effort to suggest the most helpful resources to ministry volunteers and parents.
  • Agreed to produce four ministry textbooks to Eastern European Missions in the next year. If their budget allows, these will be translated into Russian, printed and distributed in Ukraine, Russia and other former Soviet countries. Locals estimate a need for at least 5000 copies of each book. The first book on teen ministry has been written and is in the editing process. The hope is to have it translation ready by year’s end with the other three books completed in 2020.

Please keep our ministry in your prayers. We also ask that your prayerfully considering making a donation to allow us to expand the ways we are able to help ministries to children, teens and families be more effective in reaching their ministry goals.