What I learned at one of the workshops at the Inspire Conference this spring… Robin
Seven Ways to Raise Children in Faith (Using What You Are Already Doing)
You made at vow at their baptism to raise them in Christian faith. Now what? You bring them to church when you can, but you know your children or grandchildren need more than just that. Yet, in this busy world, where are you supposed to find the time to teach them about faith?
Here are seven ways to raise children in faith without adding any time to what you are already doing:
- Reading bedtime stories? Add a Story Bible to your collection, some books of Psalms and prayers and be sure to include them regularly. Ralph Milton has several good Bible story collections. Tomie dePaola has illustrated Bible passages (New International Version). In Sunday School we use The Beginner’s Bible by Karyn Henley, the Spark Story Bible by Spark House Publishing, Psalms for Young Children by Marie-Helene Delval and Children’s Psalms by David Haas.
- Eating meals together? This is a great time to be intentional about your family conversations. If you like, put a jar of conversation starters on little slips of paper on the table that include some faith questions. You can make a ritual out of using it, or you can just pull one out when you notice that the only conversation seems to be “who has what lesson or practice when”.
Celebrating the holidays? It may seem obvious, but telling the Christmas and Easter stories and Christmas and Easter time count as raising children in faith! Be intentional about telling the stories, though, or all they will hear about is Santa and the Easter Bunny.
- Helping out a neighbour? Volunteering at community events? This is part of our faith tradition. Take the opportunity to tell them how, as Christians, we are called to love and serve others. There are other reasons people may do these things, so letting them know that our faith connects directly to our actions, can help children with their overall understanding of what it means to be a Christian.
Recycling? Installing water or energy saving devices in your home? Planting a vegetable garden? This is also part of our faith tradition. Take the opportunity to tell them how, as Christians, we are called to care for the earth. Again, pointing out our faith in action is helpful to children.
- Riding in the car together? Take the time occasionally for conversation about faith and Christian values. Ask them to tell you the story they learned in Sunday School or ask them about a time where they saw God at work in the world this week. You may have to insist that hand-held video games get put away for part or all of the ride. That’s okay. Few children are truly resentful of having someone take an interest in what they have to say.
- Watching movies at home? Choose family movies that reflect Christian values and can spark conversations. A few suggestions are: Veggie Tales Movies, Evan Almighty, The Tale of Despereaux, Up, Inside Out (2015); and for teens: Pay It Forward, the Narnia Movies, the Harry Potter movies, Luther (2003), and Heaven is for Real. Ask what they thought about the movie and recall the scenes that you thought reflected Christian ideas.
Faith isn’t just for Sunday morning –Christian lives reflect their faith in a thousand little ways. Conversations can flow naturally from these moments. Your modelling of faith, love and compassion in your life is probably the most powerful influence you will have on the growing faith in the children closest to you.