How Sundays Can Help Parents

COVID has thrown everyone’s life into disarray to at least some extent. All of those months at home changed patterns and habits. Many Christians had only online church as an option on Sundays for several months and other families were forced to extend beyond that or rotate from in person to online worship every time there was another spike. And let’s be honest. There was a certain ease to rolling out of bed and watching church as you ate your breakfast. Your kids could act anyway they wanted and you didn’t feel the need to correct them. In fact, many parents began to wonder if getting kids dressed and to a church building early on a Sunday morning was really necessary.

It’s an understandable question. Parenting is tough. It can be exhausting at times. The last thing any parent needs is one more obligation. Especially if there is an easier way to accomplish the task. Why not take a short cut if it’s available? The short answer? Because this particular short cut does not keep your kids on the road you want them to travel.

Your kids (and you) miss out on some crucial benefits available only when you are in person at your congregation on Sunday. One of the most obvious, perhaps, is the age appropriate Bible class. To be clear, Bible classes as they are today were not part of the Sunday experience in the first century church. That doesn’t mean they aren’t useful or helpful as you parent your children. I also understand some churches provide more effective learning environments than others. That was the main reason we created Teach One Reach One Ministries – to make every church’s educational environment for kids and teens the best it can be. But even if the Bible classes aren’t the very best, they still give you some parenting assistance.

Age appropriate Bible classes introduce your kids to other adults who will reinforce what you are teaching your kids about God at home. It gives them an opportunity to develop relationships with potential Christian mentors. It gives your kids safe adults to help them process the things they are facing through the lens of what God wants them to do. It introduces your children to at least a few peers who are being raised to make the same choices you are raising yours to make.

Bible classes that are taught using best practices can provide even more benefits for your kids. Great Bible classes can make reading and understanding the Bible independently easier for your kids. It can encourage them to memorize scriptures to help them make good choices in the moment. It can teach them and help them practice Christian life skills to make it easier for them to do the things God wants them to do. Great Bible classes can help your kids spot logical fallacies that can be used to persuade them to disobey God. They can teach apologetics so your kids can better understand why they believe what they believe. They can teach them how to take what’s in the Bible and actually apply it to their lives.

There is a lot your kids can learn from the worship service, too. They can see generations of people worshipping God together. They can create relationships with Christians of all ages. They can experience love in action from those around them and be encouraged by Christians of all ages who keep up with their lives – helping during times of struggle and celebrating times of success. They can see others putting God and the needs of others before themselves. They can see models of people living godly lives and making good choices. They can see Christians can have fun and obey God at the same time. Who knows? They may even learn a thing or two from the sermon, too!

Worship and Bible class only provide 2-3 hours of the 14 hours a week your kids need in contact with God. However, those hours provide you support that you desperately need in your Christian parenting – whether or not it always feels like it. Don’t give up those helpful hours and take the online short cut when you can avoid it. Nothing will help you more than the “real thing”.

4 Reasons Your Kids Should Memorize Scripture

Yesterday in worship service, I had to smile. The sermon was based on the passage John 1:1-14. I knew it well. Why? Because my third grade Bible class teacher had us memorize it and several other long passages of scripture.

Scripture memory used to be common a few decades ago. It weakened a bit in generations after that when scripture memory work was limited in many cases to reciting just one verse (called a memory verse). It wasn’t as helpful because many kids looked at it for a few seconds then repeated it. Close enough was good enough for most teachers and the verses never made in to the long term memories of children. Now, it is the rare Bible class teacher that even asks students to memorize any scripture at all. It’s considered boring and therefore, thought to add no value to their spiritual growth and development.

Actually, the truth is that scripture memorization is a critical part of spiritual development. It doesn’t matter how easily they can look up a verse on their phones. Having it stored permanently in their brains provides benefits a Bible app cannot give.

  • Memorized scripture gives your kids immediate knowledge of what God wants them to do when given a choice. Your kids will have to make many choices during their lives in a split second. They won’t have time to do a Google search for applicable scriptures and read them in their Bible app. Having important verses memorized gives them immediate access to the information they need to make a godly choice.
  • Memorized scriptures serve as constant reminders of God’s promises, principles and commands. When your kids have thoughts rolling around in their heads, memorized scripture can provide some helpful input. For example, if your kids are thinking about how unpopular they are, memorized scriptures about God’s love can remind them they are indeed loved – no matter how it feels at the moment.
  • Memorized scriptures can make it easier for your kids to encourage others and share their faith. When a peer asks a question about life or God or needs encouragement, your kids will already have ideas of what they can say stored in their brains. Adults may patiently wait while you search for answers in the Bible, but your kids’ friends want some wisdom in the moment. Your kids can provide wisdom beyond their years by quoting the appropriate scriptures (or at least a summation of them).
  • Oldest memories stick with us the longest. Robot’s Law states that early memories are less likely to be lost than more recent ones. Other studies have found memories that are regularly reinforced stick with people the longest. Translation? Getting your kids to memorize and then regularly repeat key scriptures means those will be the last memories to fade as they age. Want your kids to have God’s words on their hearts for their entire lives? Start them on scripture memory early. It’s why many Christians tell stories of relatives in late stages of dementia who can still sing church songs and quote scriptures from memory.

Scripture memory work doesn’t have to be boring. Many verses have been made into songs. Singing them together over and over can cement those scriptures just as well as standard memorization. Plus the tune can serve as a trigger to bring those memories flooding back later. Take the time and effort to help your kids memorize scripture. It’s a great gift to give your kids.

Fun, Family Faith Project

Extended family can be a blessing when you are raising children. Unfortunately, COVID has kept many young children away from older and family members at higher risk for months or more. While Zoom and FaceTime helped bridge some of the gap, there can still be a bit of an emotional disconnect when your children haven’t spent as much time with their extended family. They’ve also possibly missed out on some of the spiritual mentoring Christian relatives can provide….because sometimes your kids will listen to something important from a favorite aunt or grandparent that they will ignore if said by you.

There’s a fun project your kids can do that can help them connect emotionally with loved ones and give them some spiritual mentoring in the process. This project is best done in person, but if necessary, can also be completed by using Zoom or other communication vehicles that allow recording.

Explain to your kids that many of the stories in the Bible are actually stories that are about the interactions of certain families with God. They have been passed on as important stories God wants us to learn and understand for thousands of years now. Tell them every family has stories to share. Some are happy. Some are sad. Some are almost unbelievable. But often families have stories to tell of how they interacted with God, too.

You may want to share a story about a relative you knew growing up, but your kids have never met. Tell your kids that if you didn’t tell them that story it would be forgotten. Without sharing our stories, it is almost as if the stories of our lives die with us.

Give your kids the assignment of making a family documentary. Explain that you want them to capture important family stories, so their kids and grandkids can know them in the future. Work with your kids to develop a list of questions they want to record relatives answering. Try to have at least a few questions that will encourage someone to tell a story from their life.

If your extended family is Christian, focus the entire activity on faith stories. If your extended family is not Christian, your kids may ask slightly different questions, but the stories your relatives tell can still possibly be used by you later to point out the difference God can make in someone’s life.

To make it less intimidating for family members, your kids may want to give them the questions in advance. You don’t want stories that sound too rehearsed, but you also don’t want a relative to struggle thinking of an answer. For relatives who are camera shy, do your best to reassure them their stories are more important than anything, but seeing them will make the stories more impactful on future generations.

Younger kids may need help editing the finished film, but older ones can probably do it quickly and will enjoy the project more if they have creative control. Once you’ve enjoyed the film with your kids, consider having a movie premier night and invite the extended family. Don’t forget after the project is over to spend time with your kids reflecting on the lessons they learned from their relatives. It will give you an opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings and reinforce important points you want them to remember.

Have fun with it. Who knows? You may be raising the next Christian film maker!

Fun Way to Teach Your Kids About Facts, Assumptions and Opinions

If your kids are school age, you’ve probably already noticed that everything their favorite teacher says is a fact, regardless of whether or not it actually is. It can be funny if the new fact is that okra is the best vegetable ever, but for Christian parents your kids’ lack of discernment can quickly become problematic. Not being able to differentiate between the facts of God’s truths, and the assumptions and opinions of others can leave them spiritually susceptible to being led astray.

There’s a fun activity you can do with your kids to help them begin to discern between facts, assumptions and opinions. Grab a Bible and share with your kids the story of Hannah and Eli found in 1 Samuel 1:1-18. Ask your kids what Eli assumed about Hannah? What was Eli’s opinion of Hannah based on his assumption? What were the facts of what Eli observed? How did Hannah explaining the facts of what she was doing change Eli’s opinion of her?

Explain that if Eli had not taken the time to discover the facts of what was happening, he could have made a lot of mistakes based on his assumption. As it was, he added to Hannah’s distress by falsely accusing her. Had he chosen to tell others or deny her access because of his assumptions, the situation would have gotten even worse.

Teach your kids the difference between facts, assumptions and opinions. Find the dictionary definitions. Give lots of examples – especially for young children. For example: The fact was that Hannah was praying fervently to God. Eli’s assumption was that Hannah was drunk. His opinion of her was negative because of his erroneous assumption. Point out that keeping our assumptions without checking for facts, causes all sorts of problems. Give examples you have seen of people expecting the worst and causing problems for someone who was innocent. Or someone who assumed the best and believed a lie that later hurt them or others.

Then have fun with it. Play a game where statements are made or scenarios given. In each case, your kids must decide if a fact, assumption or opinion is involved. In some cases an assumption can lead to an opinion so in those cases they need to point out both. Older kids may want to create their own statements and scenarios to try and stump the rest of your family. For older kids and teens, you may want to read statements from social media or news articles. Have fun with it, but make the scenarios varied enough that your kids get lots of practice in discernment. Play the game periodically to keep your kids’ discernment skills sharp.

Helping Your Kids Create a Haven for Reading the Bible

There are a lot of elements that are part of helping your kids build strong faith foundations and grow to their godly potential. One of the most important is helping them establish a habit of reading their Bibles daily. That daily connection with God and what He wants them to know can help your kids stay on track spiritually, make it easier for them to obey God (because they have daily reminders of what those commands are) and help them avoid being misled by skeptics or false teachers.

In previous posts, we’ve shared all sorts of tips, including the best Bible to purchase and the best ways to help them make Bible reading a daily habit. One of the aspects of creating that habit is the visual cue. One of the difficulties of beginning any new habit is actually remembering you want to do the new thing. Often, we are so distracted by our daily routines and habits, we become distracted. Suddenly, we remember the new habit we wanted to start, but after having forgotten it for a day or two, the idea of beginning again seems insurmountable.

Visual cues are the things we place where they can’t be missed. When we do see them, the visual cue serves as an immediate reminder of the new habit – in this case, reading the Bible. Visual cues aren’t much good if your kids don’t see them every day. So if, for example, you decided placing a note on the kitchen table was a great reminder and then someone moves it to set the table, the cue was useless.

What we have found works best is a cozy little corner that not only serves as a visual cue to read the Bible, but also makes the experience look inviting. The great thing is that you don’t have to have a big house to create a Bible corner. Find a corner of a room your child will enter multiple times a day. Have them place a Bible and other study aids like a journal and pen or a Bible dictionary in the corner.

Then give them a chance to be creative and have a little fun. Maybe they want to add a fuzzy blanket or a pillow or carpet square. Younger children may want to add a favorite stuffed animal. It shouldn’t take over the entire room, but be a small little area in a corner. Teens might prefer a variation of a prayer closet, where their corner is in their closet. This only works, however, if they go in that closet daily and notice the Bible and other things when they do. If your kids spend time outdoors every day and you live in a mild, dry climate, they can even make their corner outdoors somewhere.

Hopefully, since your kids designed their own Bible corner, it will look more inviting to them. Then use our other tips to get them started, reminding them that the corner serves as a reminder to spend time reading the Bible daily. Before long, you may find them spending more time with God in scripture and prayer than you would have ever imagined.