Raising Holy Kids

Holy is one of those Bible words that we think we understand without actually being able to verbalize the definition. If we can’t explain to our kids what it means for them to be holy, they may struggle to be who God truly wants them to be.

Being holy doesn’t mean you or your kids are perfect. Christians understand without God’s grace and the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross we would have no forgiveness for the sins we (and your kids) will inevitably commit.

Holy is about being dedicated to God, being devoted to the service of God and being morally and spiritually “excellent”. When you read those dictionary definitions you may picture a well known minister or someone like Mother Teresa. It seems almost silly to try to teach your kids to be holy, when they struggle to even remember to not hit each other when they are angry.

It is possible to teach your kids to be holy, but first you will need to understand what it means and why it is important to God that His people be holy.1 Peter chapter 1 has a lot of detailed information about being holy. Read through it with your kids and discuss it as you prepare to help your kids become holy.

Actually teaching your kids to be holy involves helping mold their hearts. it is teaching them to make being a follower of God – a Christian – their number one priority in life. Not just a Christian in name only, but really trying to be like Jesus in everything they do.

You can also teach them to be holy by helping them find and develop their gifts from God. Then help them learn how to find those good works God has prepared for them in advance and help them to follow through and do those good works.

Finally, you can help your kids be holy by helping them have hearts that want to obey every command their King – God – has given them. It’s about good character, good choices, godly behavior, attitudes and words. Ultimately though, being holy and “excellent” morally and spiritually is about having a godly heart.

So teach your kids what it means to be holy. Then help them to become holy. It’s a wonderful Christian parenting goal.

7 Key Components of Your Child’s Faith Foundation

As a Christian parent, you want your kids to have strong faith foundations. That strong foundation can help them avoid temptation and grow to become faithful, productive Christians. Yet many children raised in “good” Christian homes have faith foundations so weak, they crumble at the first stressor.

Part of the problem is we don’t have enough discussions about the specifics of what kids need to build a strong faith foundation. As a result, many parents are left to guess what their kids need or praying the church is providing their kids with everything they will need spiritually.

No matter how great the children’s and youth ministries are at your church, they just don’t have enough time with your children to give them everything they need spiritually. Even if your kids are enrolled in a Christian school, they won’t get everything they need. There are rare exceptions, but strong faith foundations are usually the result of a lot of intentionality from the child’s Christian parents. (Studies are showing young people need about 14 hours of spiritual content from active teaching, independent study and conversations and experiences every week to have a strong spiritual foundation.)

So, what exactly are the things your child needs you to help them with so their faith foundation will be strong?

  • Bible knowledge. There are over two hundred Bible stories and thousands of verses outside of the context of a story. Your kids need exposure to all of this content – either through active teaching or independent Bible study. Churches will give your kids exposure to about ten to twenty percent of that content. Your kids will need your help learning the rest. If your kids are exposed to very little Bible content, they are trying to live life without having read God’s instruction manual. Your kids will struggle to live the life God wants them to live if they have no idea what it is or how to do it.
  • Application principles. Application principles are taking a Bible story, figuring out the lessons God wants them to learn from the story and how to apply those principles to their daily lives. Without this piece, Bible stories are just interesting stories with no real value (in your child’s mind). Your children need your help learning how to understand what they read in the Bible and how it should impact their daily lives. They will need help molding their character, words, actions and ultimately hearts to be the Christian God wants them to be. You can teach them how to find the principles independently, but they will still need your help and encouragement in applying them to their daily lives.
  • Christian life skills. Many of God’s commands and application principles have skill sets attached to them. These skills must be taught to your kids in order for them to more easily obey God. Christian life skill training should include things like godly conflict resolution and stewardship skills like budgeting and giving, amongst others.
  • Gift discovery, development and use. God has given each of your kids at least one gift to use to serve Him by completing the good works God has planned for your child. Your kids may have different gifts, the same ones or a mixture of overlapping and unique gifts. They will need your help discovering, developing and learning how to use their gifts to serve God. For some children, this will come easily, while others will struggle for some time just identifying their gifts.
  • Critical thinking skills. While this overlaps other areas we have already discussed, we are beginning to separate it out because it is an area often neglected in a child’s spiritual education. Critical thinking skills are used when your kids think more deeply about what God has to say. It involves reflecting on scripture, but also apologetics – knowing how to defend their faith to skeptics and how to share their faith with seekers. It also involves analyzing more critically the faith challenges they will experience in the world and clearly seeing the logical fallacies or weaknesses in arguments against God that sound as if they contain sound logic and wisdom.
  • Servant leadership skills. Your kids may not grow up to be official church leaders, but they should have the servant leadership skills that will help them lead others to God. They need to learn how to effectively serve others and share their faith. Many also need to learn how to lead others with a servant heart and not the secular leadership model that is often toxic, because they will hold leadership positions in their church, company or community now and/or in the future.
  • Hospitality. This is another area we are beginning to separate from the others because of its vast importance. The Bible is full of examples of people being hospitable to others. In fact, God commands His people to show hospitality. Not surprisingly, studies are showing hospitality is a key component in the Christian homes who raise kids to be faithful, productive Christians.

Are you overwhelmed yet? Don’t give up! We have so many free tools to help you. We have daily challenges to encourage you. Providing your kids with the things on thIs list is the very best way to help them get to Heaven. It will take lots of intentionality and hard work, but it needs to be your top priority. It is the most important gift you can give your kids.

Fun Ways to Connect the Bible to Elementary Academic Skills (For Parents, Tutors and Teachers)

Whether you’re homeschooling, helping your child review academic skills over the summer or tutoring in a faith based academic program, there are ways you can meaningfully connect Bible stories to academic skill practice. Often this is attempted by telling a Bible story and transitioning to a random academic skills activity. Instead, what if you could tie the skills to Bible stories in meaningful ways?

Teach One Reach One Ministries is trying to make that easier for you! We have hundreds of free academic skill activities with meaningful ties to Bible stories on our website. We are adding more constantly. Our goal is to have activity ideas for more than two hundred Bible stories in the following academic subject areas:

  • Basic elementary language arts
  • Intermediate/advanced elementary language arts
  • Basic elementary math
  • Intermediate/advanced elementary math
  • Science
  • Health and hygiene
  • ESL (While designed for teaching English as a second language, the activities could also be used to teach other languages.)
  • Bible
  • Application principles
  • Sustenance and survival
  • Service projects

The activities on our website are sorted by subject area and by Bible story. Although we already have hundreds of ideas online, we are constantly adding new ones. Our activities are designed to be hands on, experiential, meaningful and memorable. Developed by professional educators, the activities are designed to engage children in learning the Bible as well as important foundational academic skills. Although originally designed to be done with a group of students, our website has instructions on how to adapt activities to make them work well with only one or two children.

If you are working with children on academic skills, why not take a little extra time and effort and help them learn more of God’s words at the same time? We can help you with the planning aspect, so all you will need to do is gather the materials and teach!

Using Art to Help Your Kids Grow Spiritually

Full confession here. In a family full of artists, I’m not very artistic. I do however, have a love of all things connected to art…the finished works of art, but all those fun supplies as well. If you have kids, you probably have all sorts of markers, crayons, paints and other art materials around your house.

Did you know you can use the art supplies you already have at home to help your kids grow spiritually? There are some fun types of art projects you can give your kids that will help them learn more about God and who He wants them to be in life.

Here are some of our favorites.

  • Memory art. Studies have found that drawing something can help you remember it better. Have your kids illustrate Bible stories. Encourage them to double check the elements of their design with scripture to make sure their drawings are accurate.
  • Scripture art. Illustrating specific verses of scripture and writing the full verse on the work of art can serve multiple purposes. First it is a variation of memory art in the very creation of the piece. If you display the finished products, the constant exposure to that scripture can also make it easier for your kids to eventually memorize it. If you regularly point out the scripture and how your family applies it, scripture art can help eventually help them understand how to use that verse in their daily lives.
  • Psalms art. The Psalms are a great example of people expressing their faith and their emotions to God. Over the years they have been used as songs and prayers. Your kids can create their own works of art that serve as Psalms. Have them draw how they are feeling and what they would like to say to God. Studies show art is a great way to help people process events and emotions. What better way than by including the idea of talking to God in the process?
  • Service art. Whether it’s a mural for an orphanage or a drawing for a lonely older person, your kids can use their art to serve others and point them to God.
  • Comprehension art. Art can help children process the application principles in a Bible story. After you discuss an application principle, have them illustrate what that would look like lived out in their lives.

So pull out those art supplies and use them to help your kids grow spiritually. It’s a fun way to help them learn how to become who God wants them to be.

Fun Ways to Help Kids Memorize Scripture

When I was young, almost every Sunday school teacher made you memorize scripture. Not those little one verse deals that come with the curriculum. These adults were seriously motivated to have us memorize large chunks of the Bible.

In third grade, my Sunday school teacher made us memorize John 1:1-14 and John 14:1-14. It took a lot of practice, but I finally memorized them (in King James English I might add!). To this day, when anyone starts quoting either passage, I’m there by barely glancing at the text.

Memorization of scripture has become a lost art. Those quick little verses some children are given are glanced at two seconds before saying them to the teacher and just as quickly forgotten.

Your kids need God’s words tattooed on their hearts (metaphorically speaking of course!). Their minds should be able to quickly think of the passage of scripture they need when in the midst of making a pivotal decision. They may not recall every word perfectly years from now, but they should at least remember the gist of the passage.

Putting scripture into the long term memories of your kids, requires in part a lot of repetition – especially meaningful repetition with memory hooks. There are some fun ways to help your kids practice important passages of scripture, while also giving them those little hooks or tricks to bring those memories back when they need them most.

Here are some of our favorites.

  • Paint it. Writing by hand and drawing can help children remember things. Grab the art materials around your house and encourage your kids to create scripture art. Create a display area where you have a rotating exhibit of their works of scripture art.
  • Sing it. Singing makes memorizing anything easier. There are plenty of great songs available that contain important scriptures. Go one step further and have your kids write their own scripture songs. If they aren’t particularly musical, they may want to use a familiar tune and substitute the scripture for the normal lyrics. (This works best when you match the Bible verse syllable for syllable with the original lyrics.)
  • Rap it. For kids who prefer rap music, they may want to create a rap using the Bible verses as lyrics.
  • Use it decoratively. Our daughter has a pair of Toms shoes with her favorite Bible verse on them along with other decorative elements. Or have a child that enjoys needlework or sewing create a pillow or wall hanging using the scripture. Paint scripture on a plate. The more your kids see important scriptures daily, the more they may become engrained in their hearts and minds.
  • Tape it to the mirror. Write down important scriptures on note cards and tape them to the mirror your kids use multiple times a day.
  • Work it into everything. Have you ever known anyone with one of those word a day calendars? It’s fun to watch them try to create opportunities to use the ridiculously difficult word in casual conversation multiple times during the day. Why not challenge your family to do the same with the Bible verse or at least the gist of it…perhaps for a week instead of a day. It’s okay if it gets a tad silly, because in this case you want them repeating it a lot. A funny memory attached to the scripture may also help them remember it better even years from now.
  • Play a game. Have your kids create a game using a lot of different Bible verses. The more fun you can make it for your family, the more often it may get played…giving your kids more necessary repetitions.
  • Make connections. Help your kids connect scriptures to familiar objects. God gave Noah the rainbow to help remind Noah of God’s promise to him. You can give your kids similar memory hooks to help them remember important scriptures. What if they connect Psalm 23 so strongly with the image of a sheep, they think of it every time they see sheep? Many scriptures have similar connections to objects. Remind your kids periodically that every time they see a particular object, they should think of that passage.

Your kids will find it easier to make godly choices when God’s words are firmly in their hearts and minds. Taking the time to help them memorize scripture will make it much more likely they will know the verses they need for any occasion.