One of the challenges Christians face is that the world is full of opinions. The Bible is filled with Truth or facts. The difficulty comes in recognizing the difference between a person’s opinion and someone who is relaying an actual fact or one of God’s factual truths from the Bible.
In our world today, people often state their opinions as if they are indeed proven facts. Even school textbooks often contain opinions masked as facts. Others purposely present lies as truthful facts. The lines between fact and opinion can quickly become almost totally obscured. No wonder even Christians are often confused about whether something is someone’s opinion or an actual fact.
Differentiating facts from opinions is a critical Christian life skill your children must learn. Otherwise, they will be easily swayed by arguments fueled only by opinion masquerading as facts. This can cause them to believe all sorts of lies and false teachings – accidental or intentional.
There are some fun things you can do with your kids to help them learn to differentiate between opinions and facts. Here are some of our favorites.
What’s the news? Grab a newspaper. Have your kids choose an article that interests them. Can they highlight the facts in one color and opinions in another? Remind them that facts must be backed up by evidence while opinions may or may not have any evidence supporting them. Older children may also want to look at an editorial and then compare the results to a news article. Which piece has more opinions?
But the book says… Have your child grab a social studies, economics, history or government textbook. Encourage them to analyze a chapter of the book. Can they find examples of the author’s opinion? Does the author write his or her opinion as if it were fact? If your child finds what he or she believes is a fact in the text, is there actually evidence to support the supposed fact? Can the evidence be trusted or is the author merely quoting someone else’s opinion as proof of their supposed fact?
What did the preacher say? Have your child jot down every statement the preacher makes that they believe is a fact. Afterwards, have them look through the Bible to see if those “facts” are accurate. Or have them write down the statements the preacher made that they believe are the speaker’s opinion. Can they find scriptures to support or refute that opinion?
Mother may I? The next time your child wants to present an argument to convince you to change your mind on a topic, have them present it as a lawyer might in court. Only the ground rules for their case is that they can only present facts, no opinions. Can they provide enough facts to make a strong case?
Should it be a law? Politicians are masters at making opinions look like facts. Have your kids analyze political ads, speeches or legislative debates. Can they point out all of the “facts” that are actually opinions? To make it more challenging, have them analyze both political parties – especially the one your family generally supports.
Sometimes opinions are accurate. They are based on evidence, facts and truth. If the person stating the opinion does not give your kids that supporting information, they need to learn to investigate themselves. This is especially important when it concerns matters regarding their spiritual lives. Giving them guided practice differentiating between opinions and facts can help protect them from being deceived by someone’s opinion.
Ever wonder why the Bible is filled with so many stories? Or why Jesus told parables? It’s because stories are easier to remember than lectureS or listS of facts. God also embedded His commands and principles within all of those Bible stories.
When your kids know and understand a Bible story, it can help them remember important commands and principles God wants them to use. It can make it easier for them to share their faith with others. It’s important to help your kids remember key Bible stories that will prove helpful to them for the rest of their lives.
Take your kids outside and help them find pale, flat stones. You can also purchase them at many craft stores if you prefer. Make sure each child has at least five or six of these stones. Give them permanent markers. (You can also use paint, but markers allow for more detail.)
Tell your kids a Bible story or let them choose one and read it for themselves. What five symbols can they use to help them remember how to retell the story accurately? Each stone should have one symbol.
The symbol can be a person or an object. So if I were doing the story of Esther, I might have a stone for each of the people and one for the scepter and another for the dinner.
After they have decorated the stones, have them practice retelling the story using the stones as reminders and illustrations. You can do this activity multiple times and donate the completed story stones to others with a printed copy of the story in the bag of decorated rocks.
Whether or not you create story stones with your kids, taking the time to help them learn, remember and use Bible stories is an important part of helping your kids build strong spiritual foundations.
The idea of Christians being salt and light is an abstract concept young children will have a hard time understanding. While you will need to have many conversations over the years about what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:13-18, you can begin with some fun activities.
First grab a flashlight. Go into a room or closet you can make entirely dark. Talk about how hard it would be to read a book or do anything without just a little light. For very small children, you may even bring a book into the room to read to them, but discover you can’t without the light.
Have your child turn on the flashlight. Discuss what a big difference even a little bit of light can make in a dark space. If you have more than one child, have each of them turn on an additional flashlight and show the power of having a lot of people being the light.
Try to explain the verses about Christians being a light in the world. Don’t worry if they don’t entirely understand the connection now. You can continue having conversations over the years as they become more capable of abstract thought.
Then give your kids a salted and unsalted snack. You may have to experiment to find one where the two taste distinctly different. Ask your kids to explain what they believe the salt added to the taste of the snack.
Pull out two pieces of bread. (Non commercially baked breads work better because they have fewer preservatives.) Have your kids put their unwashed hands all over both pieces. One piece of bread should go into a plastic baggie and be sealed. The other should be sprinkled with a tablespoon of salt and placed in a plastic bag so the salt stays on the bread.
Have your kids watch the bread for several days. Which piece of bread grew mold more slowly? Discuss the Bible verses while explaining that salt is used for flavor, preserving food and even disinfecting things. It had so many uses in Bible times (remember there was no electricity, so salting things could also keep them safer to eat) that salt was even used as money at times!
Spend a lot of time discussing what it means for Christians to be salt and light in the world. What are some practical things they can do to be salt and light in their worlds every day?
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.
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?
Bibleknowledge. 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.