Helping Your Kids Dream of Serving God

Over the years, I have noticed that sermons and Bible classes discussing serving others and sharing our faith tend to go one of two ways. Either they are extremely general in nature or (if it’s a class specifically for kids or teens) it focuses on doing little basic things around the home or school. As a result, kids and teens often get more specific ideas and encouragement about ways to serve others from secular sources. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing except that they begin to believe serving others happens more in a secular environment and they don’t learn the importance of connecting sharing their faith to service (or how to do it).

You may not be able to change this dynamic in your church very easily, but you can do some things with your own kids to help them learn about some of the many ways Christians serve others and share their faith around the world. This more specific knowledge can help them begin dreaming about how they can serve God and share their faith using their own talents and opportunities – now and in the future as adults.

Here are a few ways to expose your kids to more specific ideas of ways to serve God, while sharing their faith.

  • Invite people to share their stories with your kids. Since hospitality has been shown to be a key ingredient in successful Christian parenting, get even more benefits by inviting over people who serve God and share their faith. Encourage them to share their stories with your kids. What are they doing? How did they get involved in those ways? What skills and knowledge did they need to be effective?
  • Share books, articles and social media posts with your kids. Many people in ministry share their stories in a variety of ways. Follow lots of different people to get a taste of a variety of experiences. In my own ministry, for example, I would have never mentioned ministering to children who have been through a war. Then this year, a war broke out in a country where I do quite a bit if ministry work. I had a steep learning curve about ministering effectively to young people who have lived through a war. I also shared what I learned with others through my ministry. Your teens could have read the ebook that resulted and learned about what would be involved in helping children of war (who are often underserved around the world). While they might not be ready to do much yet, it can plant a seed either for more skills they want to learn or for ministry they hope to do in the future.
  • Explore secular non profits and discuss ways to adapt them so they would also include faith sharing. Secular non profits do some great things. They just don’t include the faith sharing piece God wants us to include in everything we do. Explore with your kids what different non profits are doing. How could a few things be changed to point those they are helping to God? (Note: For teens, the discussion should include funding. Many Christian groups become secular because access to government funds is often restricted if Jesus is mentioned. How could they find funding and still share their faith?)
  • Encourage dreaming, brainstorming and experimenting. Your kids need time to dream these godly dreams. Encourage them to brainstorm ways to solve the problems they see in the world around them by serving others and sharing their faith. Allow them to take some first steps towards something that interests them. Look at ”failure” as a learning experience. Not every idea will work, but sometimes what they learn from their mistakes leads to an idea that will work well.
  • Encourage shadowing, mentoring and apprenticeships. Do your kids seems particularly interested in a specific area? Is there a Christian doing those things that would allow your child to shadow him or her for a day or a project? Would they be willing to mentor your child? What about an apprenticeship where your child will be providing actual help on a ministry project? Encourage your kids to learn as much as they can and think of ways to make the ministry even more effective. Even if that ministry doesn’t like the ideas, they may be useful to your child in the future.

Don’t raise kids who have no specific ideas of ways they can serve others or share their faith. Or kids who think doing an occasional extra chore around the house or being kind to someone at school fulfills God’s commands for them to serve others and share their faith. Help them be prepared to fully serve God every day of their lives.

Free Christian Homeschooling Resources

As someone who homeschooled our child from 5th through 12th grade I understand the many reasons and benefits of homeschooling. I also remember how many resources are available for homeschoolers now and how quickly the expenses can add up. Which is why as we developed Teach One Reach One Ministries, we kept our homeschooling friends in mind. We have tons of free, quality resources developed by trained educators that you can use in your homeschool as well as ministries serving children and teens.

Here are some of the free resources you can find on our website.

  • Bible lessons. You will find over 200 free Bible lessons on our website. They include links to the scriptures, learning objectives, interesting facts and activity ideas. They are designed to be worked in through out the school day for elementary children.
  • Bible lesson activity ideas. While designed for classes of children, most activities are easily adapted for one or two children. The activities help children explore details of the story or learn about its application principles. The activities are hands on, experiential, meaningful ones to help engage your kids in learning about God.
  • Service project ideas with meaningful ties to Bible stories. Service learning is great for helping your kids practice things they are learning while serving others and sharing their faith. Our website has 149 service project ideas.
  • Living the Christian Life Christian life skills lessons. Developed for teens, these lessons can also be adapted for older children. Each includes a Bible lesson, skills activity and application challenge. They will help you explore Christian life skills with your children like conflict resolution, handling money and much more.
  • Elementary academic skills activities tied to Bible stories . Originally developed for faith based tutoring, these activities can help your kids practice elementary level language arts, math, science and health and hygiene skills in the context of a Bible story. We hope to add a scope and sequence soon to make it easier for you to find specific skill sets. (Currently, the are grouped by category and Bible story.)
  • Activities for learning a new language tied to Bible stories. Originally designed to be used in ESL classes, these engaging activities have meaningful ties to Bible stories and the words for any language could be substituted for English.
  • Sustenance and survival activities with ties to Bible stories. Originally created to help children growing up in places without adequate resources or for scout troops, these activities can be used to teach your kids skills that aren’t usually taught to young people, but could prove helpful in ministry or real life emergencies. Skills include things like finding fresh water, various types of gardening, navigating by stars, predicting weather without instruments and more.
  • Educational best practices books. Concerned because you don’t have a degree in education? These free ebooks were designed for ministry purposes, but parents and homeschoolers will find lots of helpful information in Effective Children’s Ministry and Effective Teen Ministry.
  • Baptism study. Want to study baptism with your child, but not sure where to begin? This free ebook gives you the framework you need to feel confident.
  • Christian parenting resources. Our Christian parenting blog and printable parenting sheets have the tips, ideas and encouragement you need.
  • Family devotionals. Search our parenting blog for lots of free family devotional ideas.

All of our resources are free, thanks to the generous donations of our supporters. Please feel free to share this post and links with other homeschoolers. May God bless you as you educate your children.

Does Your Child Have One of These Gifts From God?

Christians often get bogged down trying to figure out which of the gifts on the list in 1 Corinthians God gave them. It’s one of the reasons kids and teens are rarely taught about discovering, developing and using the gift or gifts God gave them to serve Him. It’s little wonder they often believe there’s no place or purpose for them in God’s Kingdom.

It’s easier to instead focus on the gifts God gave people in Exodus 36 to do the work He wanted them to do in the building of the Tabernacle. Even kids can understand God gave them gifts of talents they can use to serve Him. It’s concrete, easy to understand and biblical. Those spiritual gifts in Corinthians often reveal themselves as we use our other gifts to serve God.

Some kids seem to be born knowing what their gifts are. Others discover them naturally as they explore the world around them. Some, however, will struggle and believe God didn’t give them a gift. We know He gave every child at least one gift. The problem is that we often lack the creativity to see those gifts and help young people figure out how to use them to serve God.

Here’s a list of possible gifts to get you started. Go over the list with each of your kids. Use the quiz in the last post to help you focus your search. Then have fun helping your kids develop and use those gifts to serve God!

Ability to Focus, Accounting, Adaptability, Athletic Ability, Audio Visual, Automobile Repair, Analyzing, Art, Asking Questions, Building, Computer Coding, Cooking, Counseling, Crafts, Wood Working, Decorating, Detail Oriented, Drama, Editing, Emotional Intelligence, Encouragement, Enthusiasm, Faith Sharing, Fashion/Clothing, Generosity, Greeting/Outreach, Networking, Human Resources/Talent Identification, Humor, Imagination, Intelligence, Juggling, Listening, Marketing, Math, Medicine, Mercy, Music, Organizing, Photography, Problem Solving, Public Speaking, Research, Risk Management, Science, Self Control, Service, Social Media, Stewardship, Teaching, Time Management, Typing, Video Production, Writing

Fun Quiz to Help Your Kids Discover Their Gifts From God

Do your kids know the gifts God gave them to serve Him? The truth is that you may still be struggling to figure out what your own gifts from God may be. Often if churches even address giftedness, they use the scripture in Corinthians about spiritual gifts and a long inventory to “help”. Often, those exercises just leave people more confused than ever and teens and kids are often excluded entirely from the conversation.

Why not make the entire exercise a bit more concrete and practical – easy enough to use with even relatively young children? We suggest that instead of starting in Corinthians, you show your kids Exodus 31. In this chapter, it discusses how God used what we call the “secular” gifts or talents of various individuals to build the Tabernacle. It also explains how God gave certain individuals a little extra bit of talent so they could do the work well.

Then read to them the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. Although there is more than one way to interpret this parable, it is acceptable to equate the money “talent” with what we now call talents or gifts. Point out that each person received a different number of talents, but each received at least one talent. Note that the master was only upset with the man who didn’t do anything with his talent at all.

Explain to your kids that God gave each of them at least one talent. One of their jobs as a Christian (or future Christian) is to find, develop and use their talent or talents to serve God. To get started, ask each of your kids to answer the following questions:

  • What classes or training have they had that have taught you anything that might be considered a talent? (These can be at school or extracurricular classes…even one time classes.)
  • When someone compliments you, what are the two or three attributes they most often mention?
  • What is your favorite class in school?
  • In what class is it easiest for you to make a good grade?
  • What jobs (if they are old enough) or volunteer work have you done in the past?
  • Which ones did you enjoy the most and why?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What type of non-fiction books (or YouTube videos if they watch instructional ones) do you enjoy the most?
  • What are some things you do well, but don’t necessarily consider a talent?
  • If you could learn or try something new, what would it be?
  • What is something you love doing (or would love to do), but don’t feel as if you would do it well?
  • If someone asks you for help or advice, what is it that is most often asked of you?
  • After your child has answered all of the questions, look at the answers together. Is there a pattern? Is there a particular gift already demonstrated? Is there an interest that might also indicate a gift if they are given opportunities to develop it? Don’t limit yourself to more obvious gifts like artistic talent, teaching talent, etc. In our next post, we will give you a list of more subtle talents that God can use as much as the more obvious ones.
  • Taking the time to help your kids discover, develop and use their gifts to serve God is the beginning of their understanding their place and role in God’s Kingdom and the good works He has planned for them to do.

7 Traits Kids Need to Become “Good Samaritans”

As a Christian parent, you’ve probably heard the story of the Good Samaritan. He was actually in a parable told by Jesus. A man was walking along a road when he was beaten, robbed and left for dead. A priest and a Levite walked right by the injured man. Although the most likely candidates to help someone, they were filled with excuses and kept going. Then a Samaritan, who culturally should have hated the injured man, stopped and provided a great deal of assistance.

The point of the parable, you may wonder? Jesus wanted it to be clear that hearts and actions are more important than words. One would think Christians and even those exposed to the story would be automatic helpers in a crisis, but a study found that only 7% of people even stopped to check on a biker who was “injured”.

How do you raise your kids to be the Good Samaritan and not the religious people who didn’t stop to help? How can you help your kids be in that 7% of people who helped?

There are six key traits of children who live their lives, making serving others a priority.

  • Loving Empathy. We tend to think these are two separate character traits, but you must have empathy to truly love someone. The priest and the Levite couldn’t put themselves in the place of the injured man. They couldn’t imagine themselves being in a similar situation. Their love for the man wasn’t evident, because they felt no connection to him.
  • Sense of Purpose. One could argue the priest and Levite thought they knew their purpose in serving God, but they missed the point of the Law. Yes, God wanted them to take care of the Temple and teach the Law, but God’s main purpose was for them to love Him with all their heart, soul and mind and love their neighbor as themselves. Had they known and embraced their full purpose in serving God, they would have realized helping the injured man was more important than where they were going. Your kids need to fully understand and embrace from a young age that their purpose in God’s Kingdom includes serving others and sharing their faith.
  • Godly Priorities. Life is about choices. Your kids need to have a great understanding of God’s priorities for their life and match their priorities to His. The priest and Levite misunderstood God’s priorities and replaced the important with the urgent. They focused on chores rather than service and ministry.
  • Time Management Skills. We don’t know much about the priest and the Levite. One has to wonder, though. If they had stopped and helped the injured man, would they really have missed doing what they were going to do? Maybe if they had gotten up a few minutes earlier or been better organized, they could have easily done both things. In the study mentioned earlier, the majority of the 93% who didn’t help the injured biker cited lack of time as their reason. If your kids learn how to trim wasted time and manage their time in an organized fashion, they will accomplish more of the good works God has planned for them to do.
  • Generosity. The parable doesn’t address the priest and Levite’s financial concerns, if any, but it does tell us the Good Samaritan spent money on the care of the injured man. There’s no indication he expected it to be paid back or wanted anything in return for his generosity. The Samaritan recognized money was needed to care for the man and he was more than willing to share what he had to make sure those caring for the man had enough money to do so. Your kids need to learn to be generous with their time and money to truly be Good Samaritans.
  • Skills. We don’t know what skills or talents God had gifted to the Good Samaritan. Maybe he was a doctor. Maybe he knew first aid. Good Samaritans don’t always need to use a skill to help someone, but if they do it’s important to be ready. Your kids need to discover and be developing their gifts from God so when they need them to serve Him, they will be ready.
  • Courage. The parable doesn’t mention whether or not the Good Samaritan had any fear in the moment he decided to help. He would have been justified if he had been afraid though. Those robbers could still be lurking nearby and attack him. The man was a Jew and he was a Samaritan. The hatred between the two groups was huge. People would walk miles out of their way to avoid touching the very land where Samaritans lived. There could have been repercussions for touching a Jew, much less helping one. Whether he was courageous by nature or had to summon the courage to help, the Good Samaritan showed courage by stopping and helping. Your kids need to understand God may ask them to help others in ways that feel scary to them. They will need to learn to trust in God and be brave to do those good works God has planned for them.

Good Samaritans are lovingly created by parents teaching and molding their children to be who God created them to be…someone who willingly serves others. Taking the time to develop these traits in your kids will make it more likely they will be life long Good Samaritans.