Parents prioritize laying a solid foundation for their children early on that will undergird the rest of their lives. Parents know that early awareness, habit formation and discipline of sport and music helps their children develop. To that end, parents invest their time, energy and resources to give their children the best possible start.
Parents must have that same kind of passion for laying a proper spiritual foundation, including sharing the gospel with their children. In many ways, the same principles for coaching youth sports teams apply to sharing the gospel with children.
Be a coach. Coaches are always there for their teams, encouraging them, pointing them in the right direction and serving as stabilizing forces. As spiritual coaches, parents can serve the same function. Find ways to talk about God and His character, whether that's pointing to the beauty of God's creation, how much He cares about the child or how God orchestrates a child's life by putting people in it. Keep it simple. Be a consistent role model for the child, showing them what Christians believe and what Christians do. They pick up on more than most of us realize.
Look for trusted resources. For many parents, starting spiritual conversations is difficult. That makes finding helpful resources all that more important. Texas Baptists' KidsFaith is a great starting point. It takes God's idea for guiding a child's faith and provides parents with a journal of 10 faith conversations. It empowers parents and children to discuss faith matters in a comfortable way for both parties.
Be patient. Conversations begin, pause and continue. Faith conversations happen this same way. KidsFaith has been used with families over the past five years and works because your personal story is used with a Kidsfaith journal. Asking for permission to share your story with a child allows the start to a relaxed conversation taking the initial focus off the child.
Remember that conversations happen at their own pace. This concept is key in realizing that even though a child becomes distracted or disinterested while having a faith conversation, it doesn't mean that conversation was unsuccessful. A child's distraction or change of interest is simply your cue to pause the conversation until another time. Although we have become accustomed to a mindset of instant solutions, we need to remember the developmental characteristics of our child work in shorter time frames. Spiritual conversations with children occur over time in bits and pieces as well as longer conversations.
KidsFaith reminds us that it is out of our own story and our own life that our children see an authentic picture of God's grace and love. Moreover, parents teach their child about faith by the way they do life. Don't let your example to your child overwhelm you. It is not your own goodness, skill and perfect parenting that your child craves. It is who you are because of Jesus in your life. Lots of parents are looking closer at their story as they desire to lead their child spiritually. It's natural for parents to think about their own story as they are encouraging through KidsFaith their child to discover their story. Yea for parents who are getting it right as they lead spiritual conversations at home!
For more information about KidsFaith, visit www.kidsfaith.net or call 888-244-9400.
By Tedye Schuehler