For a variety of reasons, many first responders have been criticized a lot recently. While some of the criticism may be justified, the reality is most are honest, hard-working people who risk their lives to help save the lives of others. Your family can have fun learning a little about someone in the Bible who had interesting relationships with authority figures and do something to serve first responders.
Grab a Bible and tell your children the story found in Genesis 37. Review how the Midianites sold Joseph to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s captain of the guard. Potiphar held an important position in Egypt and may have been in charge of the region’s safety. Review authority figures in your community who help promote safety. Discuss the roles of policemen and firefighters. Explain that they work very hard and often have to cook their own meals even after a long day at work. Many times they spend the night at their station so that they are ready to help citizens in need if they get an emergency call. Baking muffins for them to have on hand as a snack or with breakfast is a helpful treat.
Prep your baking space before you start the activity and have all materials accessible (older kids can help you gather needed supplies). Give each child a special assignment such as stirring (they can take turns with this), pouring, cracking an egg, setting the timer, placing cupcake liners in tins, etc. As you work, discuss the many specific services that our community helpers are responsible for. This helps keep your kids engaged while they wait for their turn. (You also want to emphasize cooking safety as you work and keep a safe distance between the oven and young children).
While the muffins are baking and cooling, have your kids create handmade thank-you cards.
Take your children to deliver the muffins and cards. Often firehouses are eager to meet kids and may even let your children take pictures and see the firetruck. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon together as a family.
Do your children understand nothing is impossible for God – even today? There’s a fun family devotional and activity you can do to get your family talking about the amazing things God has done and can continue to do in the future. You will need a Bible, some art paper, sidewalk chalk and buttermilk.
Grab a Bible (preferably NIrV to make it easier to understand) and tell your kids the story of Elisha and Jehoash found in 2 Kings 13:1-14:22, and 2 Chronicles 25. Focus on the part of the story of Jehoash with Elisha and the arrows. Explain that although Jehoash had been evil, God still loved the people of Israel. When the king humbled himself enough to go ask Elisha for God’s help, Elisha gave him some instructions.
The king evidently did not have enough faith in God (or humility, the Bible doesn’t really tell us why he stopped so quickly) to strike the ground five or six times. As a result, the King would not be able to totally defeat his enemies and they would continue to cause trouble for the people of Israel.
Explain that sometimes it is hard to believe God will really take care of us and keep His promises. It is important to remember that God can do amazing things – even today. God wants us to trust Him and pray to Him – even if we think it would take a miracle for God to say “yes” to our prayer. It’s important to believe God still works in amazing ways.
Ask your kids to share some of the amazing God works in the Bible. Older children may also be able to share stories of how they have seen God answer their prayers in amazing ways. With younger kids, you may want to share some amazing things you have seen God do.
Give everyone a sheet of paper on which they can draw. Tell them that normally when you draw with chalk it gets very dusty and makes a mess. If you dip the tip in buttermilk first though, the result is a creamy, dustless, no-smear drawing – amazing. (Older students may be able to understand the analogy of us adding God to our lives to make our lives richer and fuller.) Have everyone use the technique to create drawings to remind them God is amazing. Have them title their artwork so they will remember the theme and display the finished works where everyone can see them.
According to the latest research, 47% of Millennials believe it is wrong to share their faith with anyone who is not a Christian. That’s a huge disconnect from what Jesus called us to do in the Great Commission and what we know happened in the early church.
When almost half of a generation believe it is wrong to do the very thing that is supposed to be one of their top priorities, the church is in trouble. And it may only get worse, if something doesn’t change dramatically. Why? Because Millennials are also most of today’s young parents. Which means they are teaching another generation the lies they have believed from our culture and ultimately Satan.
If you are a young parent, you can change things – even if no one else in your generation does. Don’t forget that even with those depressing statistics, 53% still understand their call to teach everyone about Jesus. They understand becoming a Christian is the only way to spend eternity in Heaven. It may not be politically correct, but it is God’s Truth – woven throughout scripture.
So what are some things you can do with your kids to help them become courageous sharers of their faith? Here are some of our favorites:
Encourage them to invite their friends to Church and Church events. Sounds old school, but that’s how many of us started. We were encouraged by our parents to invite friends to come with us to anything we did at Church. It’s amazing how many kids and teens will agree to come to church if asked. They probably won’t bring it up, but are often quick to agree when asked.
Take brownies to new neighbors and invite them to Church. Get your kids to help with the baking. Take the brownies over as a family. Not only may your kids meet some new friends, but you can also help your neighbors find their new Church home.
Challenge your kids to find the opportunities God gives them to tell others something about Him. Often we totally miss openings others give us to talk about our faith, God, church, etc. Have your kids help you notice opportunities and give you a secret signal so you don’t miss them. Afterwards, talk about what you shared and why you decided to share that particular piece of your faith with the person. Eventually, they will be able to do the same when they aren’t with you.
Role play common scenarios. What are some of the things that might happen during their normal day that would give them a great chance to share their faith? Role play some of the things they could say, while you pretend to be the other person and respond in various ways. They need to become comfortable when people are interested and when they aren’t.
Teach older kids apologetics. There are a lot of great videos and books that deal with answering the common questions seekers have about God and Christianity. Apologetics will give them well worded responses that are possibly more effective than how they might answer those questions in the moment.
Go on a mission trip. Most churches have local and foreign mission opportunities. The younger your children are when they go on mission trips and the more often they go, the more likely they are to become more comfortable telling others about Jesus.
There are plenty of ways to encourage your kids to become Christians who share their faith regularly. The key is making sure they have a heart for helping others spend eternity in Heaven. When they realize on a deep level the wonderful gift they are truly sharing when they share their faith, the lies Satan has told them about variable truth will usually begin to fade away. It’s definitely worth your time and effort to raise a generation who is comfortable and passionate about sharing their faith.
For a few years public and private schools required students to participate in acts of service. The thinking was that it would raise up a generation of young adults who gave selflessly of themselves to help others.
For some young people, it may have worked. Many however, just put in their required hours and moved on with their lives. God asks us as His people to serve Him, in part by helping others. The story of the Good Samaritan is a Christian classic. How can you raise kids who serve as part of their Christian identity instead of merely replicating what schools have done with mixed results?
The difference is in the heart of first you – the parents – and then how that is passed on to your children. The key is to make being children of God a part of your family’s core identity. Serving others should be more a part of your family DNA than the secular things that define your family identity.
There are some things you can do to make serving others a natural part of how your children interact with others:
Serve others regularly. If your family only helps others once or twice a year, it’s more of something you do to fill time – not part of your family’s DNA.
Start when your kids are toddlers. It’s amazing how much even the tiniest of children can do to help others. If your kids are well behaved, most groups will welcome them to work along side you as you serve others.
Don’t wait for formal programs. Look for opportunities to serve neighbors, friends and family. You want to teach your kids how to see the opportunities God gives us to serve others each day – not just when someone organizes a big service project.
Help your kids find ways to serve using the gifts God has given them. Don’t worry too much about those spiritual gifts in Corinthians. For now, focus on the talent gifts God has given them. Help them discover and develop the gifts God has given them. Then help them find creative ways to serve others using those gifts. Making a direct connection between the gifts God has given them and serving others will connect a lot of what your kids are learning about God to their actual life.
Don’t forget the faith piece. As things happen while you are serving, refer back to scriptures that discuss those issues. Find ways to share your faith as you serve those who aren’t Christians. Find ways to encourage the faith of the Christians you serve. The ministry of Jesus is a great example of connecting serving others and sharing the good news of the Gospel. Teach your kids how to do the same with those they serve.
Don’t forget to have fun. Yes, serving others and sharing our faith is serious business. That doesn’t mean it can’t also be fun. The fun doesn’t all have to be silly, laughing fun (although we still talk about the time our then four year old accidentally had her hair painted by her Nana as we were serving an inner city ministry). There is also fun to be found in using your gifts, seeing the relief or joy on the faces of others, learning new things, seeing new places and having new experiences.
Taking the time to regularly serve together as a family – making sure to bring God into the process – will help serving become part of your kids’ core identity. With hearts that belong to God, they will be well on their way to becoming productive Christian adults.
The Bible has a lot to say about reflecting or meditating on God’s Words. Philippians 4:8 also tells us about the types of things about which we – and our kids – should be spending our time thinking. Deeper thinking can help kids put together the pieces of what a Christian life is – what God is calling them to do – who He wants them to be.
Unfortunately, most of us were never really taught how to meditate, reflect or do deeper thinking – even about God and His Words. While some with a more analytical personality may naturally do these things, for many of us it will be a learned spiritual discipline.
Learning anything requires practice if we want to become good at it. Which means if we want our kids to practice thinking more deeply about God and His Words, we need to have engaging activities to help them better understand the spiritual discipline and practice it.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
Take your kids to a beautiful sight in nature. After you’ve explored, sit down and talk while you rest or enjoy a snack or picnic. Ask thinking questions like, “Why do think God gave us so many beautiful things to enjoy?” or “What is your favorite thing God created for us?”. Older children and teens might enjoy thinking questions like, “How do you think God wants us to be good stewards of His Creation?” or “What do you think God wants us to do when He said mankind was to have dominion over everything He created?”. Hopefully, some deeper questions will send you all back to the Bible for a deeper dive into what else God may have to say on a particular topic.
Allow a few extra minutes at bed time for reflection. Talk about what they thought went well that day. Ask them where they think God would want them to do something differently if the same things happened again or how they saw God working during the day. There are all sorts of deeper questions you can ask. Remember though that kids will see this as a way to stall bedtime. Or your conversations may be so good you lose track of time. If that happens, think of ways to put a comma in the conversation until the next night or have the discussions on nights that don’t require an early wake up time the next morning. (I’d suggest making bedtime earlier, but we all know how well that will be received!)
Have family dinners. You may have seen “table talk” cards that are encouraging conversation at the dinner table. Often, these are just deeper thinking and sharing questions. You can easily make your own set of table talk cards. They don’t have to all be spiritual in nature. Sometimes a simple conversation will gradually lead to talking about much deeper faith type subjects.
Solve mysteries, logical fallacy stories and logic puzzles together. Technically this is a purely secular activity, but it teaches your kids to look past the obvious. Often things that are said which are negative about God and all things Christianity seem logical and reasonable on the surface. Dig just a tad deeper and the logic falls apart. We also need to be aware that just because a Christian may use poor logic when explaining something in the Bible doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong in their conclusion about what God wants. Logical fallacy stories are a great way to have these conversations. Ultimately, your kids need to understand they need to keep checking everything by the Bible and what it actually says. (The Fallacy Detective Series was one of our favorites when our daughter was young.)
Have fun “what if” conversations. The topics don’t matter. Watch for opportunities as you have these conversations to mention things God would want them to know on the topic. For example, if your question is “What would you do if you won a million dollars?”, you can work in all sorts of comments about generosity, helping others, being good stewards and more.
Have fun with it, but spend time focusing your family on God’s Words, commands and principles. Spend time encouraging your kids to think about the plans God has for their lives, how to use the gifts He gave them and other important spiritual topics. Reflection is a great way to encourage spiritual growth in your family. It’s definitely worth your time and effort.
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