“Joshua said to them, ‘Cross again to the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder…Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, “What do these stones mean to you?” then you shall say to them, “Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it cross the Jordan…” So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel, forever.’” (Joshua 4:5-7)
Here is the truth from my own journey with our children – In my effort to do it RIGHT, I was so afraid to get it all wrong. I was afraid to make mistakes. In the process I was making this whole thing too difficult. Child Bibles frustrate(d) me to the point that I would put them down and never pick them back up again because they were too watered and often did not tell the whole story. I did not want fluff; I wanted substance. My mom said to me once that I was making it too hard and that we didn’t need to do original language word studies (I love me a good word study). So I simply started to read the stories.
In my search to bring substance into our lives I underestimated a great big God and the imagination of a child.
He speaks to their hearts in ways that I could never manufacture!
I did not want to merely bring Sunday School or Children’s Church home. I wanted to worship and pray and read God’s Word so that it was a part of our daily us. We are a work in progress. This is a marathon not a sprint. Some days I am motivated and some days I am not feeling it. It takes one step at a time, one foot in front of the other. I can not speed up the process and if I try we are going to miss very important lessons that God intends to teach us as a family and as six individuals.
I pray daily: I can’t do this on my own. This parenting thing… this being a wife thing…. this living for you. I need you Jesus. Please help me.
I do not want to be on the sidelines of my kids’ faith. I don’t want this to be simply about saying the sinners prayer and making sure they are THERE. I do not want to merely be their cheerleaders. I want them to know that I am right here with them running this marathon at their side. They are not running alone. And if they need to walk for a bit, I’m gonna slow down and help them walk out the cramps. If they need to stop for a drink I’m gonna stop too. I don’t want to be for them what God is supposed to be for them (I’m not their Savior), but I don’t want to be a mere bystander either. I don’t want to become so puffed up in my own walk that I don’t stoop down, slow down, and calm down enough to be right here with them.
I want to be an active, intentional participant in their faith journey. And make no bets about it – your child’s faith requires intentionality on your part. So simply dropping a child off at your church’s children’s program and expecting someone else to meet all those spiritual needs… will have consequences for them and you. You have to find a way to bring God home.
Expecting your church to meet needs in your life that they: 1. were never intended to meet and 2. are not equipped to fulfill – is simply setting everyone up for failure and heartache.
You’ll be left wondering what went wrong – because after all You took them to Church! You didn’t miss a week. They had perfect attendance pins!!!
However, this is so much more then bringing children out of a basement or treating God like a project that needs to be tackled. We have to find this place where he becomes a part of our every single day, every moment, every thought and discussion. His presence before us and behind us and all around us, abiding within us.
Don’t flake out on the discipleship of your kids just because it feels daunting and overwhelmingly difficult.
Take one step at a time… one story, one prayer, one song, one verse.
A house is not built in one day.
You can do this.
Just remember that the best tools are: 1. God’s Word, 2. Prayer, 3. a teachable heart, and 4. a humble spirit.
When your children ask you along the way who God is, what He has done in your life, and why you serve Him… raise your Ebenezer and say “Thus far God has helped us.” It won’t matter where they went to church or what they did for Sunday School – what will matter is that you brought God HOME.
“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’” (1 Samuel 7:12)
These are a few items that we use in our home that are great training tools:
Seeds Family Worship CDs – one of the best sets of scripture set to great worship style tunes I have ever heard.
Psalty the Singing Songbook – these were my favorite when my brother and I were growing up. This is how I learned hymns because my childhood church did not sing them.
The Action Bible – this is what we are currently reading together every night. They can’t get enough. I love the illustrations and character interactions that you can see. It is chronological which is great for me to put things in order and for little ones to know who came first. There are a number of stories that are not usually told in Sunday School which make for fun and fresh.
Jesus Story Book Bible – this is a beautiful children’s bible – that is NOT fluffy. It’s main theme is God’s extravagant, never giving up, never stopping love. The stories she has pulled are some of my favorites.
The Regular old Bible – check out different versions. Consider reading the new Voice version together if you have fluent readers. It is broken up into parts like a play with a narrator so that each child can take a person and read their part. It is a lot of fun. Scripture is fun.
REAL Bible Studies for Kids from Precept Ministries – these are for older children and they even have things for teens – I have reviewed a few of their studies here and here at The Homeschool Village with “3 ways Precept Ministries will Encourage Family Bible Study“ (this is an indepth review with links). I will also be posting a review on their Discover 4 Yourself Kids soon. These studies are not fluffy. They get into the meat of God’s Word so that if you have never done an intensive Bible study before you will be in for a learning experience like never before. When I am doing one of these with my older two (ages 9 and 7) I often find that I am getting just as much as they are it is that indepth and that good.
Scripture Memorization – We use this memory box to keep track of what we know and what we are learning. We practice and act these out daily for those who need more then just words to memorize. They love to say them with hand motions and I love how often we end up in giggles at all their theatrics.
Seeds Family Worship CDs are also great for scripture memory.
Make an Ebenezer Box - where you place momentos from your year, things where God has answered prayers, shown up miraculously or quietly in your life and the life of your family. On New Years Even open that box and pull out the items remember the ways in which God has met you on the path, “thus far God has helped us.” Show the tangible presence of our God – by being intentional about watching and praying and being grateful before Him. “Bring a sacrifice of Praise” with your life and home.
Do you have something you would like to add to the list? Please share in the comments.
If you have a question about anything you have seen… you can leave that in the comments too.