Children love to hear family stories. They are fascinated to hear about your life as a child or stories about colorful relatives they may have never met. Even at my age (nearly as old as dirt!), I still ask my dad to retell my favorite stories from his very colorful family.
Recently, I have tried to add some of our family’s faith stories to my repertoire. One of my favorite stories is how my grandmother found the church. She was pushing my infant mother in her carriage and stopped to rest in front of the church building. Someone came out to invite her in and she became a Christian shortly thereafter. Some stories are more humorous, although I won’t retell them here for fear my parents might be reading this. (What is the statute of limitations on parental punishment anyway?)
My daughter has heard the stories of all of our baptisms, special youth rallies and service work. She knows all about the special people we knew at church. Now that she is older, we have even begun telling her the stories of when there were problems and how we saw God working through them.
Even my genealogy hobby has produced more faith stories. There are the ancestors who came to this country because their government refused to allow them to worship God in the way they believed was required of them.. The distant relative who was thrown in jail in England because he disobeyed the King when he believed it conflicted with God’s words. Our family history has quite a few people in it who evidently loved God and wanted to do His will.
You may wonder why these stories are important for a child to hear. Our faith is in God, not in other people. Maybe you are the first person in your family to become a Christian. The reality is that your family’s faith stories are a witness to your child. Whether it is only your personal story or stories that cover many generations of believers, these stories teach your child several important lessons.
First, they can begin to see how God works in the lives of His people. Sometimes it takes years for people to begin to see how God has worked in their lives. Not because He hasn’t been active in their lives, but because they have never been taught how to see God’s handiwork in their own lives. Your stories will begin to teach your child how to see God working in his life.
Your stories may also teach your child that even though people aren’t perfect, God is always there for us. It is important to teach your child that the church is made up of people. We are all sinners and even though we are Christians, things may sometimes happen in churches that may make us question everything we have been taught. When you tell your stories of trials in the church, you are teaching your child her faith should be in God, not in people. She will learn from your behavior that trusting in God and obeying Him was the most important thing to you. When your child experiences trials later or is disappointed in a fellow Christian, her faith may not be shaken quite as badly.
Finally, your stories help your child make loving God a part of who they are. When Joshua addressed the people in Joshua 24:15, there could have been no doubt in anyone’s mind that Joshua’s family would be loyal servants of God. You want your child to know clearly where you stand in your relationship with God and that your hope and expectation is that she will grow up to feel the same way about God.
So pull out those old family albums and start telling your child the stories of faith in your family. They may even become the ones your child requests to hear again and again.