Does your family have some favorite family stories? You know, the ones told so many times everyone knows the words by heart. Do you remember the words to your favorite song from high school? When it comes on the radio, can you crank it up and sing it like you did back then? You probably can even picture the car you drove when the song was popular or picture other scenes from that time as you sing along years later.
Stories and songs are powerful. Told and sung often enough, they work their way into a permanent and often meaningful part of our brains. They almost become a part of our identity. That is why cultures all over the world and across time have used stories and songs to transfer vital information to future generations.
You can help build a stronger foundation for your child’s faith by using stories and songs. They can serve as anchors in your child’s mind of important concepts and stories. Repetition is important and if you can tell the stories using the same words each time, it will have a better chance of sticking in your child’s mind. (Songs already have that as a built in feature!)
Start with Bible stories. If possible, tell them using the words from the Bible. The NIrV version is on a third grade reading level and lends itself to storytelling. At the end of each Bible story, think about adding a line about what we learn from the story about God and His principles (a la Aesop). Telling Bible stories and their lessons over and over will plant them firmly in your child’s mind. Don’t limit yourself to the normal twenty or thirty stories, but over time tell all of them – around 200.
If your family has been Christian for very long, add your family faith stories. How did great-grandma become a Christian? What amazing things did God do in your life? When did grandpa learn an important lesson about God knowing what is best for us? Telling family faith stories will underscore that your family values worshipping and serving God above anything else – it is who your family is – as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Don’t forget songs. There are so many great songs with scriptures as their lyrics. Many have wonderful tunes – upbeat for kids that like peppy music and slow for those who prefer more classical type songs. Find the ones your kids enjoy so they will want to play them again and again – fixing the lyrics in their heads long after they stop playing the actual music.
I believe Jesus told parables and David wrote Psalms because they knew both were wonderful ways to make God’s message stick in the hearts and minds of people. Take a page from their books and use songs and story telling to cement your child’s faith.