4 Ways You May Be Teaching Your Kids That Christianity Is a Spectator “Sport”

If you’ve ever known a really serious sports fan, you know they often talk as if they actually play on the team – or at least coach it! In reality, they have absolutely no impact on the game with their cheering and backseat coaching from home and only a minimal impact in the stands. It may be a spectator sport, but the real players are the ones on the field, participating in the action.

Unfortunately, many Christian families have turned Christianity into a spectator sport. They want to claim participation in hopes of getting any benefits from identifying with it, but don’t really want to get all sweaty and dirty actually living the Christian life.

Unfortunately, God does not condone spectator Christianity. Rather, He calls Christians to a life filled with obedience, service and activity. It doesn’t earn us a spot in Heaven, but active, full participation is necessary to meet God’s expectations of how we are to live our lives.

Parents may unknowingly be teaching their children Christianity is a spectator sport by their choices. Here are the four most common ways.

  1. Attending church online instead of in person. Nothing screams spectator more loudly than watching it on a screen. While there are times when virtual worship and classes can be a blessing, fellowship is a key part of the design of church created by God. Your kids need to be in the building with other Christians as often as possible.
  2. Skipping church for more important things. Do you allow your kids to skip Sundays for sports or other activities? Does your family skip on vacation? Every time you skip, you are implying worshipping and obeying God is optional and only if you don’t have something better to do.
  3. Acting like a professional critic after worship or classes. It’s one thing to discuss theological differences and quite another to constantly critique song choice, appearance, flower arrangements and all of the other elements as if you were a professional paid to do so. When you constantly criticize, you are implying worship and classes are for your entertainment and should meet your expectations for what that means, not for humbly worshipping God.
  4. Not living your faith and failing to teach your kids about God at home. Does your Christianity stay at the church building? Then you may be teaching your kids that it is a social club and not a lifestyle with everything that encompasses as far as God is concerned.

Don’t raise spectator Christians. Raise children who are active, productive Christians.

Fun Family Devotional and Service Project

There is a passage in Acts that provides not only an interesting devotional topic, but an opportunity for a family service project. In Acts 19, Paul is in Ephesus. Several interesting things happen, but starting in verse eleven (through verse twenty), it really gets intriguing.

Evidently, Ephesus was an area where the people were heavily into magic (not the entertainment kind) and it appears even some of the Jews considered themselves exorcists. When they tried to replicate the miracles Paul had been doing, however, they were unable to do so. Eventually, the people became convicted that what they were doing was wrong and brought out their magic books (scrolls) to be burned.

This story makes a great springboard for discussing with your children the influence books can have on their hearts and minds. What are some books that they believed changed their thinking or attitude about something? Was it a change of which God would approve? Have they ever read a book they believe wasn’t good for them to have read for some reason? Why? What kinds of books might it be smart for them to avoid reading? What types of books should they read more often? This is also a great time to remind them the Bible is a library of 66 books and reading each book is important because they contain things God wants them to know.

Don’t let the conversation veer too far away from self censoring the books they read. This is not the time for a political discussion on censoring others. The discussion could extend, of course, to the content they stream, the music they listen to, etc. Remind them every creator has an agenda. Some are helpful and some not so much. Very little content is as neutral as we want to believe. You may even want to teach them how to evaluate a book for beneficial or harmful content before reading it.

Finally, start collecting good Christian and other books to donate to a ministry that could use them. Urban ministries and faith based tutoring programs rarely have enough books. Ministries that work with children in other countries may have a hard time finding children’s books in their language or bilingual ones in their language and English. Or raise money for children’s Bibles (many languages only have one version – usually in language equivalent to the old KJV and need children’s Bibles to make the Bible more understandable for those who are young) or Christian books for children and teens (remember, not every Christian book contains truth either).

Have fun with it, but make sure your kids have the tools to make wise choices about the books they read.

Fun Bible Survival Activities for Families

One of the challenges for families wanting to have Bible studies together is how to make it more fun when they have time for more than just reading scripture and discussing it. We may have just the solution you need.

On our website, we have hundreds of fun activities directly tied to specific Bible stories which you can use to reinforce the spiritual meaning, application principles, academic subjects or even do family service projects connected to scripture readings.

One fun category is sustenance and survival. Originally devolved for children living in lower income countries, the activities can be fun and different for kids in higher income areas. Not only will they learn some helpful skills if they are ever caught in the wilderness, they can also use them to teach others in the mission field.

The activities are all tied to specific Bible stories. What kid wouldn’t want to learn how to make a battery from food, purify water, make food using the heat from the sun, use the stars as a GPS and more? More importantly, they will have opportunities to better understand the themes behind many of the Bible stories they have heard before and many ones that may be new to them.

Currently, we have over forty activities in this category and are adding more. Best of all the lessons are all free! So the next time you have the space for a longer devotional have some fun with one of our survival activity Bible lessons!

(Here’s the link http://teachonereachone.org/activity-ideas/. Just scroll down until you see the survival category on the left and click on it for the list of activities and links.)

Fun Service Learning Challenge for Families

It’s abundantly clear throughout the Bible that God expects His people to serve others. Yet many Christians are content with merely writing a check and letting someone else do their serving for them. I’m pretty sure (while every ministry could use more funds) that wasn’t all God had in mind.

Part of the problem is that many of us are oblivious to the world around us. Totally unaware that we have walked past someone crying or who is hurting in some way. When questioned about serving others, we confidently claim we don’t encounter people with needs. If you want your children to be the servants God wants them to be, you have to train them to be noticers and problem solvers.

There is a fun challenge you can do as a family to teach your kids how to better notice needs and meet them. It’s also graduated in difficulty so your kids can progress through increasingly difficult ways to serve others. By the time they have completed the challenge, your kids will be well on their way to not only noticing those who need serving, but also competently meeting those needs.

Start with the level that will stretch your kids service skills a bit. Once they are comfortable at one level, move up to the next. Some families can get through all of the levels in a few weeks, while others may take months or even years. The important thing is to serve regularly and consistently and challenge your kids to grow during every opportunity to serve others.

Here are the challenges at each level.

  1. Neighborhood (if you have very young children, you may even want to start with your family before tackling the neighborhood). Find ways to serve those on your street or in your neighborhood. It’s fine to be creative, but make sure the needs are what the neighbor needs and not what you want them to need! If you are going onto the property of someone to serve them, ask permission – especially if you don’t know them well.
  2. Town/Your part of town. Expand the challenge to beyond your neighborhood. You should try to get your kids to notice needs first, then approach the appropriate organizations to see if they are willing to let you help them. Because your kids aren’t as familiar with the locations or people they may be serving, this requires some growth. It may also require more creativity and problem solving skills.
  3. Another town or a part of your town unfamiliar to you. This requires meeting new people and finding out how things work best in an unfamiliar area that’s still relatively close to home.
  4. Another state or country. This is probably more appropriate if you have teens in your family. It requires more research before embarking on your service journey and navigating different areas, cultures, rules/laws and perhaps even languages. If your kids can research, plan and execute a service experience in another country, they are probably read to do independent complex projects serving others almost anywhere.

Don’t forget that Jesus almost always tied serving someone with teaching them about God. Work with your kids on also increasing their ability to have spiritual conversations with the people they encounter while serving.

You can also use these experiences to teach them about various nonprofit management skills like budgeting, long term planning, sustainability, fund raising and more. There are various place to find resources to help online.

Raising kids with servant hearts requires intentionality and a plan. This challenge can get you started.

7 Things Your Kids Need This Summer

Summer is quickly approaching and your family is probably finalizing plans for how you will spend those few weeks out of school. Many of you will fill every waking minute of your children’s time with camps and other organized activities. While those things can be good, there are seven things which your kids need more this summer.

  1. Time to be bored. Boredom encourages your kids to process what they have been learning, dream godly dreams and be creative. Take away the devices and provide supplies for crafts, library books, plain paper or notebooks, pencils, pens and free time. If not used wisely, feel free to offer to substitute free time with extra jobs around the house!
  2. Quality time with you. Did you know most parents only interact with their kids for a few minutes a day – primarily with logistical conversations? Your kids need lots of quality time with you listening to them and giving them coaching and counseling where needed. They need you to be totally present and engaged with them for hours, not minutes.
  3. Daily time with God. Summer is a great time to help your kids establish lifelong habits of daily scripture reading and prayer. Those two habits are disciplines that will help them stay healthy spiritually.
  4. Time walking in nature. Long walks in nature are phenomenal for mental and spiritual health. Taking them together can also give you more quality time.
  5. Time serving others. In a selfish world, your children will easily become self centered and entitled. Regularly serving others in ways that allow them to also hear the stories of those people will encourage softer, others focused, servant hearts.
  6. Time doing manual labor. Over scheduling means many kids aren’t learning how to work hard doing things that aren’t necessarily fun – a skill often needed to succeed in careers and ministry. You can add an element of fun, but it won’t hurt your kids to help you with household jobs that require more effort than putting food in a pet’s bowl.
  7. Time learning Christian life skills. A lot of the things God requires of Christians are much easier if your kids have the skill sets to do them well. Things like conflict resolution and budgeting can make loving others and generosity easier. We have a free curriculum on our website, Living the Christian Life, with lessons for you to use.

Don’t make this summer another blur of too many activities and not enough time spent being intentional about helping your kids be healthy mentally and spiritually. Give them what they really need.