When I meet someone who left the church during their teens and early twenties, I often ask what their parents could have done that might have kept them from leaving. Surprisingly, almost everyone mentions they wish they had seen that their parents’ faith made a difference in their lives in some way. The sad thing is those parents would probably be able to share multiple ways God touched their lives over the years. Yet, they never shared this with their kids. As a result, their children thought serving God was a waste of time.
The good news is everyone loves a good story – even your teens. You probably already tell stories from your family or about things that happened when you were the same age as your children. Whether you realize it or not, often those stories are great teaching tools. Jesus knew stories were effective ways to get across a point. That’s what the parables Jesus told did for the people. It helped them lower their defenses and hear important wisdom in ways they could easily understand and remember.
Giving your kids the gift of your personal faith stories is so very important. Those stories help them see God and understand how He continues to work in the lives of His people. You don’t have to have stories as awe inspiring as Moses to reach your kids. Often, our every day faith stories are just as inspiring and helpful in their own ways.
So what types of personal faith stories can you tell your children? There are probably many, but begin by thinking about times these things happened in your life:
- How you learned God is alive and active today. These are times when you saw God working in your life. Often we dismiss a string of very unlikely events as luck. Instead, this is usually God moving people and events to meet His purposes. These stories are especially powerful when God worked to move you to do, say or go somewhere that was very far from what you had originally planned and yet turned out even better than you had hoped.
- How you learned God is right. These are times when you either obeyed or disobeyed one of God’s commands and quickly (or slowly!) learned God was wiser than you for having that command. These are great stories to help point out the earthly benefits and consequences of obeying or disobeying God’s commands. It explains how God’s commands are not to keep us from having fun, but to protect us and keep us pure and holy.
- How you know God is awesome. Often these stories involve nature – God’s overwhelming creation in some way. God’s creation was designed to point people to the God who created everything. Share times when the beauty and wonder was so amazing one could only worship God with awe. (This can include the story of their births!)
- How you have grown spiritually over the years. Growing up can be discouraging at times. These are the stories that reassure your children God is with them. They encourage your kids to read their Bibles, pray and turn to other Christians in their attempts to grow spiritually. It encourages them to continue to fight temptations. These stories can also urge your kids to work to reach their godly potential and serve God in the opportunities He will give them.
You don’t have to be a master storyteller to teach your kids important things about God from your own experiences. There is nothing you have to memorize or take with you as the stories are already in your head and heart. Just take a few minutes and start sharing those stories and the lessons you learned about God from them with your children. It’s worth the time and effort.