If the surveys are accurate, Christianity has lost sight of its primary mission. Before Jesus left Earth after his resurrection, he gave his followers a command that applies to every Christian since then. Our primary directive? To teach others the Gospel message, baptize them and teach them how to obey everything Jesus commanded. Yet the vast majority of Christians aren’t familiar with these verses in scripture, much less are they obeying them.
It doesn’t have to be that way. You can break the negative cycle by teaching your kids at a young age how to share their faith. When children are taught to do something at a young age and are given lots of practice, it becomes very natural to them. It’s difficult for them to avoid doing those things. Your children need to be able to share their faith as easily as they breathe.
Sounds great, but what if you are unsure how to share your faith personally? What if you don’t know how to teach your kids how to share their faith? Thankfully, the basics of faith sharing are fairly simple.
Teach them how to ask questions to create a connection. When they meet someone new, can your kids ask questions to help them find things they have in common with the other person? Many kids do this naturally, but if your child struggles, give them some tips and guided practice. Others are more likely to listen to your child share his or her faith if there is an emotional connection.
Teach them how to find out where someone is spiritually or share something non-threatening to start a spiritual conversation. Sometimes, people will initiate a spiritual conversation with someone they know is a Christian. At other times, it can be quite natural to ask them if they are a Christian or where they attend church. Many times, your kids will need to look for natural ways to take a regular conversation and turn it towards more spiritual things. Your kids don’t have to do this in every conversation, but they need to learn how to recognize an opportunity someone gives them to talk about God or how to be intentional about creating an opportunity to talk about Him. This is another area where brainstorming and guided practice can help.
Teach them how to take the person from where they are spiritually one step closer to God. Maybe the person needs a Bible or an invitation to church. Perhaps they are ready to study the Bible with someone. Maybe they need to have a question or doubt answered. Your kids don’t have to have all of the answers, but they need to learn how to figure out the next step in someone’s spiritual growth and how to encourage them to take it.
Teach them the overarching story in the Bible. From Creation to the Fall to waiting for Jesus, his arrival, ministry, death and resurrection and the origins of the church, your kids should be able to explain God’s perfect plan, how sin disrupted that and how Jesus gives us a way to be restored to God. They don’t need to memorize every detail in the Bible or a script of some sort, but they should be able to explain the overarching story naturally, in their own words.
Teach them how to explain the need for baptism for the remission of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Lots of Christians avoid teaching about baptism – going as far as to teach Acts 2:36 and 37, while carefully avoiding verse 38. Why? Who knows, but if you and your kids read the book of Acts or notice the example Jesus himself set, baptism is necessary to become a Christian. Once most people understand that, they willingly comply if they want to truly obey God. Any objections are more process oriented- like what will I wear – than actual objections to obeying God. Teach your kids to be brave, but willing to listen and address any concerns.
Need more advanced help? Our website (www.teachonereachone.org) has free faith sharing tools under volunteer resources as well as a free baptism study with leader guide, when your kids are ready to study the Bible with someone. Feel free to use any resources you think will help your kids. Let’s break one of the cycles that is shrinking the church. Prepare your kids to share their faith. You may just be surprised how much fruit they bear.
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.
There is a misconception in today’s world that truth and love cannot exist in the same space. Your kids will probably be told that it is preferable to lie rather than to risk hurting someone’s feelings. Or that it is important to tell everyone they are going to Heaven, rather than risk upsetting someone by telling them they are disobeying God. Or that it isn’t loving to believe God will indeed send people to Hell for disobeying clearly stated truths in the Bible. And sadly they will watch as supposedly strong Christians take a clearly written declaritive sentence in the Bible and twist the words into a pretzel so that in the end, the sentence means the exact opposite of what it says.
The problem has been that many have done a very poor job of how they choose to share God’s truths. Or their “truth”. Love has come disconnected from truth and it seems to be getting worse every day. Fortunately, you can actively teach your kids how to keep truth and love connected – the way God intended it to be.
There are a few basic principles about truth and love that your kids need to know and practice.
Not every “truth” is actually “truth”. Just because your child believes something to be true, does not mean it is. Your child could be mistaken or wrong. Your child may only know part of the truth, but not all of it. Or it may just be your child’s opinion on a topic where everyone has a right to a different opinion (like a favorite color). Part of keeping truth and love connected is to constantly search for truth and make sure something is definitely truth before we present it as such.
Not every “truth” is equally important. God’s truths are absolute, unchanging and of eternal importance. Much of what people believe is “truth” is actually an opinion. There is no real evidence to prove whether or not it is absolute, unchanging and valid for everyone. An opinion positioned as “truth”is not nearly as important as God’s absolute truths.
Not every “truth” must be spoken immediately. Timing is crucial. Sharing a truth that could embarrass someone is perhaps best not done loudly in front of a large group of people. Your kids also need to understand that the “truths” of their opinion may not need to be shared at all. Just because your child doesn’t like someone’s outfit, doesn’t mean five hundred other people won’t love it. It’s not necessary to hurt someone’s feelings with your personal opinion.
God’s truths are absolute and do not change. We do not get to vote to change God’s commands. Current popular culture may not approve of God’s commands, but that does not mean they should be changed. God knows what is best for us. We have to trust and obey Him.
There is a way to share God’s truths with love. Most people believe they are doing the best they can. They will usually become defensive and stop listening if someone uses harsh, ugly, angry language to communicate God’s truths to them. Yes, Jesus may have sounded a bit harsh at times, but those occasions were rare. Most of the time he was very loving, but firm in the ways he corrected others.
Keeping God’s truths from someone is not love. There is a thought process that people cannot “help” who they are. It is not their fault if they want to live their lives in ways that disobey God. The fear by many Christians is that sharing God’s truths with them will make them reject God. The reality is living a life enmeshed in sin is a rejection of God. Making someone believe they are “right” with God while they are living in enmeshed sin is not loving. You are giving them a false sense of security. Sharing God’s truths in such a way that they will hopefully want to make changes and obey God is ultimately the most loving thing anyone can do.
Take the time to teach your kids how to keep truth and love connected. It is a skill set our world desperately needs.
There’s a hard truth many older Christians have already figured out. If you don’t have God’s Words engraved on your heart, it isn’t very helpful. Why? Because most decisions are made in fractions of a second. If your brain doesn’t automatically know what God wants you to do in a particular situation in that second, you may very well make a sinful choice.
Your kids are no different. In fact, because the decision making areas of the brain aren’t fully developed, they need to have those helpful verses come to mind even more quickly.
But, you are thinking, my kids hate to memorize anything. If I force them to memorize scripture, we will be in constant conflict and they will learn to hate the Bible. The good news is that there are fun ways you can engrave those words on your kids’ hearts. – even if they hate memorizing things. Here are some of our favorites.
Teach them fun songs. If your kids are young, you probably are playing Kidz Bop or Disney music on constant repeat. Why not add some fun scripture songs in the mix? There are songs specifically recorded to help kids memorize scriptures with those tunes young kids enjoy. Of course a lot of worship music also has scripture embedded in it, too. By singing along or hearing it played millions of times, those verses will be engraved in their hearts as well.
Use scripture art. Have your kids create works of art around important scriptures and display it prominently around your house. Don’t forget, they can make pillows and other decorative items with scripture as well. Older kids and teens may also enjoy Bible journaling. (Note: They can do it in a spiral notebook as easily as they can in an expensive wide margin Bible.)
Develop favorite sayings. You probably already have sayings you use over and over again that you probably got from a parent or grandparent. Why not be purposeful about it and find some pithy verses to use as some of your repeated sayings? If you say them often enough, your kids will groan, but join in repeating the scripture just like they do your other sayings. Chances are, they will repeat them to their kids, too.
Have a family contest. Some kids thrive on competition. They already think you are becoming old and forgetful. Why not challenge them to scripture memory contests? You can work together to choose scriptures and what winners will get as prizes. Don’t forget, for kids, getting to choose what you cook for dinner or getting to go to bed fifteen minutes later can be as exciting as a new purchased item.
Have fun with it, but make sure your kids have key scriptures engraved on their hearts. It will make it so much easier for them to know what God wants them to do and to make good choices.
The more your family works together to serve others and share your faith, the more it will become natural and easy for your kids to continue to live that way as adults. Fall is a great time to serve others. As you serve, you can find ways to point others to Jesus. If you are serving Christians, you can find ways to encourage their faith.
Here are some ideas for fun Fall family service projects to get you started.
Apples. Do you have an apple orchard somewhat close to you? Take the kids and go apple picking. When you get home you can create little gift baskets or bags of apples to share with neighbors.
Hand Pies. Take some apples and this recipe and make apple hand pies for people. Make sure you are wearing masks and handling them with food gloves after they come out of the oven, to keep recipients safe from any COVID germs your family might be carrying. Adding a reminder to reheat should also kill any germs.
Pumpkins. Most areas have pumpkin patches. Grab your kids and go buy pumpkins for at risk people who aren’t getting out much. You can also offer to carve their pumpkins when it gets close to the end of October.
Pumpkin spice muffins. Grab a box of spice cake mix and a can of pumpkin (regular size, not extra large). Mix the cake mix, can of pumpkin and about ½ of the empty can of water. No need to add the other ingredients on the cake mix box. Put the batter in a muffin tin lined with muffin papers and bake at 350* until firm to the touch. Once again, wear masks and food gloves when handling cooked muffins. These taste better warmed, so that should also kill any germs when the recipient reheats them.
Fall Garden. Winter kale and cabbages as well as some herbs will produce during the fall months. Depending on your zone, you may still be able to plant and harvest foods you can share with others…especially those in food insecurity.
Fall flowers and decorations. Sunflowers, mums and other fall flowers are often cheap to purchase. Or have your kids gather acorns and colorful leaves and make an art project. Take them to someone who can’t get out safely to purchase those things and brighten their day.
Nuts. You can’t do this in every location, but in some places you can pick edible nuts off the ground. Make sure you are allowed to do it and know you are picking edible nuts (chestnuts for example can be edible or inedible depending upon the tree). Give them quickly as nuts can go rancid over time.
Leaf raking. This fall service project staple really does make a huge difference in the lives of homeowners who are in poor health or physically disabled. Make sure you are disposing of the leaves the way the homeowner wants them to be removed or used.
No matter which service projects you choose to do, having your kids make cards or drawings with a note and a scripture written on them, pretty much guarantees their faith sharing scripture will end up on the refrigerator of the recipient. It’s a great way to teach your kids about faith sharing and encouraging others as you help them choose which scripture to use. If they want to get really creative, they can make scripture art to share – with a service project or as a service project on its own.
You will have to carve out time and use some family resources to do some of these family service projects. It’s a great way though, to create family memories and help your kids learn how to put the pieces of a Christian life together.