Does Your Bible Knowledge (Or Lack Thereof) Impact Your Child’s Faith?

One of the best things about mentoring parents today is that we have actual data about what works and what doesn’t work in the faith development of children and teens. Twenty years ago, I would have had to rely on my own experiences and observations. Now, I can be a little more confident I am giving advice that will truly help your kids build strong faith foundations and develop to their full God given potential.

When I was a child, reading the Bible daily was a top priority in many Christian homes. Props to our parents, because the NIrV Bible had yet to be published. Most of the versions were quite a few years ahead of the reading levels of even the best readers amongst us. As time has passed, however, I have begun hearing more and more Christians give the excuse that reading the Bible daily isn’t so important because they know the gist of it or are already struggling to do what they have read up to this point in their lives. Adult Bible class discussions have often morphed from ”What about such and such passage?” to ”I think” or ”I feel”. Daily Bible reading is now viewed by some Christians as legalistic and even toxic (because it can lead to legalism).

At the same time, the number of young people rejecting God and the Church as they enter adulthood have grown. Is there a connection? Intuitively, I believed there was, but had no proof. Studies have been done now, however, that make it easier to verify that connection. The important thing to note was that this particular study didn’t talk to all parents or parents who called themselves Christian. It was limited to parents who had behaviors the study defined as engaged Christian parents, meaning they regularly engaged with their children in prayer, biblical conversations, worship attendance, ministering to others and more. You might call these the ”best” Christian parents they could find based on behaviors.

The study asked these spiritually engaged Christian parents how equipped they felt to have conversations with their children about topics like basic doctrinal issues (baptism, etc.), how the Bible applies to life today, sin and forgiveness, Bible history, the authority of scripture, God’s mission for Christians, etc. The results were disappointing. The highest positive response was still under fifty percent and when broken down by topics, many topics had as many as a third of parents claiming to feel insecure about discussing them. And these are the spiritually engaged Christian parents! I would imagine those numbers would be much lower for Christian parents who rarely engage with their kids spiritually at all. (This also doesn’t measure whether or not the things parents are teaching their children are actually biblically accurate.)

Even worse, parental spiritual engagement begins dropping off right about the age of accountability. So the time period when our kids are making the most important decision of their lives and learning how to live out their commitment to God once they become a Christian is the same time period when their parents start leaving them to fend for themselves spiritually. And we wonder why young people are leaving the church!

If you, like the many Christian parents, feel uncomfortable having those spiritual conversations with your kids, it’s time to educate yourself. Ask an elder, minister or Bible class teacher for a Bible reading plan that will help you learn more about these topics. If you don’t understand what you are reading or how to communicate the information in ways your kids can understand, ask for help. Encourage your kids to read the Bible independently. Read it out loud to them. Make daily Bible reading a personal habit. Saving the next generation requires getting back to the basics. And it starts with everyone reading the Bible regularly.

Summer Family Fun Activities (That You Can Use to Teach Your Kids About God)

Summer break starts here in the next few days. Why not make plans to have some quality family fun time? There are quite a few fun summer activities you can do with your kids that can also give you opportunities to teach them about God in the process. While our website has hundreds of activity ideas for over 200 Bible lessons, here are a few of our favorite summer family fun ideas.

  • Star gazing. Light pollution can make it difficult to see more than a few stars in most suburbs and cities, but they are still visible. Want to make it a true adventure? Head to the nearest rural area to see more stars than you can count. While you are admiring God’s handiwork, talk about how God created the earth or His promise to Abram about having so many descendants, they would be as numerous as the stars. You can even tell them about one the dreams Joseph had about his brothers that involved stars.
  • Build a booth. The actual Jewish holiday of the booths isn’t until Fall, but the activity is a great summer one. Find branches and foliage and build a shelter. The holiday has very strict rules about the construction, but you can do whatever works best in your yard. Make sure you can see peeks of the sky through the roof of your structure. For extra fun, sleep or eat in your structure. During the Jewish holiday of booths, the parents tell their children all of the stories of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness and the ways God cared for them. They are great stories to share with your kids, too.
  • Grow or make food to share. There are lots of stories in the Bible when people shared their food with others – from Abraham feeding angels unaware to the widow feeding Elijah to Jesus feeding the five thousand – share stories about sharing food with others as you care for the plants that grow food to share or cook food for others. The story of Ruth and the stories in Acts about Christians helping those suffering in a famine, teach your kids that God wants them to help feed the hungry in our world.
  • Take family walks or hikes. Have you ever paid attention to how much teaching Jesus did while he was walking places with his disciples? Take a page from the ministry of Jesus. You can share everything he did on his walks or any Bible stories or passages of scripture you want your kids to know and understand.
  • Create some scripture art. Gather up some craft supplies. Spend time creating scripture art that is beautiful enough to display in your home or gift to others. You might even want to host an ”art exhibit” and invite others to view your scripture art while snacking on little snacks you provide.
  • Make your sidewalk a faith mural. We are supposed to have a dry summer in our area. Grab some colored chalk and create a faith mural on your driveway or sidewalk. Challenge your kids to create designs that would teach passerby about God. Help them execute their designs or if each child is decorating their own block, design one yourself. As you work, talk about what would make people more interested in learning about God and what are some important things for them to know about Him.

Have fun as a family this summer. You will create sweet memories and strengthen the faith foundations of your kids in the process.

The Spring Project Every Christian Family Needs

One of the best projects your family can do – that will also help you teach your children about the Bible, encourage the growth of godly character traits in your kids and can be used to teach children how to serve others and share their faith is a garden. If you live in an urban area or apartment, don’t stop reading. Almost anyone in any living situation can have some sort of garden with their children.

Involve your children in the planning of your garden. Where is the best place to put it? If you don’t own land, what kind of containers can you use? Will you need indoor lighting? What plants do you want to grow? As you plan your garden, share with your children the scriptures in the Bible about making plans and getting good advice. You may want to set a good example by talking to a master gardener or reading books about gardens.

Maybe your family wants to grow the items mentioned in the Bible. You can Google for a list, but it’s actually rather extensive. If you choose to go the Bible garden route, you may even want to try making some authentic recipes with the resulting produce. When searching for produce in the Bible, why not teach your kids any stories surrounding the mention of those items? It’s a great way to review familiar Bible stories and teach them some new ones.

Planting and caring for a garden isn’t easy – especially for younger children. Give them plenty of age appropriate responsibilities for the garden. Along the way, they will be practicing numerous Christian character traits like patience, perseverance, personal responsibility, hard work, working without grumbling and complaining and more. Have conversations about why God wants His people to have these character traits and share related scriptures and Bible stories.

When your plants produce their fruits and/or vegetables, share some with those who have food insecurity or who are lonely. Discuss ways you can point the recipients of the food you have grown to God. Encourage your kids to think of other ways they can use the food to serve people – perhaps by using it to cook a dish of food and delivering the meal to someone who has been ill or just had a baby.

Have fun with it, but used intentionally, your garden will produce a lot more than just fruits and vegetables!

Fun Way to Encourage Spiritual Growth in Your Family

Does your family enjoy board games? Do your kids love challenging you and your spouse to play them in basketball or croquet? Does your family enjoy a challenge of any kind? There is a fun way to channel that competitive energy in a positive manner – that will also encourage spiritual growth amongst the members of your family.

Before involving your children, sit down with your spouse and create a list of things that if your family did them more consistently, it would lead to spiritual growth. The list might contain some of the spiritual disciplines like reading the Bible daily, praying more often throughout the day or attending worship services more regularly. It could also contain things like memorizing scripture or reflecting daily on a specific Bible verse. You may want to add doing more to serve others or share your faith. Try to think of things that family members could do individually as well as things to do as a family (like family devotionals).

Once you have your list, call your family together. Read Colossians 1:9-10. Talk about what it means to have a ”life worthy of the Lord” and ”to please Him in every way”. Ask your kids to name some of the good works God wants us to do and ways we can grow in the knowledge of God. Share with them the list you and your spouse created and add any new ideas they have that are appropriate.

Read Hebrews 10:24-25. Discuss ways of encouraging each other to do the things on your list more consistently. Introduce the idea of a family challenge as a way of encouraging each other. How you structure your challenge will depend a lot on the ages and personalities of your kids. You may want to just focus on one area, like daily Bible reading, or include several items from your list in the challenge. Most families will benefit more from having a family goal each member can help reach, although some may want to see which family member can memorize the most verses of scripture or something similar (only do this for items where each family member has about the same chance of being successful and if your family enjoys healthy, godly competition that won’t become negative over the course of the challenge).

After you have set your goal, find ways to encourage each other as you work towards it. Remember, encouragement is not demeaning, harassing or punishing those who aren’t helping reach the goal. All encouragement should be just that – encouraging in a positive way. You may want to set a time limit on the challenge and a goal to measure success against. Rewards won’t make much of a long term impact, but if your kids have worked very hard to reach a family goal, you might want to surprise them with a special celebration at the end. Have fun with it, but do what you can to make the improved habits continue long after your challenges have ended.

Assessing Your Child’s Spiritual Growth

Isn’t it a little odd that there are no report cards for parenting?! It might be nice to know you were doing a good job or where you need to improve your Christian parenting skills. Since there aren’t report cards, we have to guess what is working and what isn’t. It’s tricky, because some things that appear to be working in the short term end up being disastrous over time. Other things that don’t seem to make an impact suddenly appear to have worked really well when your child becomes a young adult.

Assessing the spiritual growth of your child is also difficult because his or heart is more indicative of spiritual health than their actions may be. So how do you know what is working and what isn’t? How do you know if your child is growing spiritually, stagnating or moving away from God?

There is no perfect assessment, but there are some things you can observe that will give you some important clues.

  • Your child displays godly character traits more consistently and without constant reminders. Is your child becoming more truthful, kind, patient, etc.? Are you having to give fewer reminders and corrections for your child to act more godly? Does their behavior appear sincere or is it a manipulation technique?
  • Does your child read the Bible independently? Like any habit, young children may need your help establishing good Bible reading habits. After a time though, they should be seeking time in scripture without reminders from you.
  • Does your child have an independent prayer life? This one is tricky, because we often pray silently when praying independently. If a child is praying, though, he or she may mention praying about something, ask you to pray also, or quickly respond yes when asked if they are praying about something concerning them.
  • Does your child’s decision making reflect a Christian worldview? Do they accept everything they are taught at school without thinking about whether or not it aligns with scripture? When faced with a choice does he or she consider what God may want him or her to do or is the choice based on personal feelings and preferences? A Christian worldview means God’s commands and principles are considered before accepting a new belief as true or when making decisions.
  • Does your child display a servant heart? Does your child offer to help others without being asked? Does he or she help even when there is no benefit for him or her? Does your child help without complaining or whining?
  • Is your child exhibiting a spirit of wanting to obey and please God? Or does your child want to argue against God’s commands or find loopholes to excuse disobedience?
  • Is your child trying to obey the two greatest commands? Loving God with all of his or her heart, mind and soul and neighbors as themselves is not always easy, but does your child show an awareness of the commands and try to obey them, even when it isn’t easy?
  • Does your child exhibit an increased knowledge and understanding of scripture? Over time your child should display an increased knowledge and understanding of scripture.
  • Has your child asked to be baptized and commit his or her life to God? Some young people ask to be baptized for less noble reasons – like getting extra attention. A child who is growing spiritually will want to get baptized for the ”right reasons”.
  • Is your child making attempts to share his or her faith with others? This can include casual conversations, inviting people to church, etc.
  • Does your child have relationships with people who help him or her grow spiritually? These can be mentors, teachers and/or peers.

Remember, spiritual growth, just like physical growth can be uneven and vary from child to child. What you want to see is that your child is showing obvious signs of spiritual growth. If not, making adjustments in your parenting quickly can keep your child from failing to thrive spiritually.