It has been a long night, but it was worth it. You now sit in a hospital chair staring into the face of your newborn child as your wife rests from her labor. Fighting back tears is no longer a thought as you just take the moment to be consumed by the love you feel for the tiny bundle of joy in your arms. Your newborn daughter smiles. The nurse has told you that it is only a reaction to bodily occurrences this early, but as you stare into her eyes you know in your heart it is much more.
As you lay her in the hospital crib to finally get some rest for yourself, your mind begins to ponder things of her future. Is she going to be a cheerleader? Will she look like her mommy? Will she be the first female president? Then your eyes widen as you begin to think about your responsibilities in it all. You wonder how you’ll ever be able to help her grow into a lady. Most importantly, how will you introduce her to Jesus.
For many of us, this is harder than it sounds. And they really don’t start to grasp different concepts about life like this until age 3 or 4. Something as deep as eternity also rarely comes up in conversation with your preschooler. If it ever does, it is definitely not when you are ready for it. These conversations usually take place on snowy roads on the way to school, when you are running late in getting ready, or on Super Bowl Sunday at about the two-minute warning when your team is down by 3. While it is important to address the questions when they come up, because like it or not, this is much more important than one football game, there are also ways to proactively engage the conversation naturally. This helps you be best prepared for the chat, and allows it to often happen at more convenient times.
Try to work a few of these practices into your daily life to help get your child’s spiritual journey off on the right foot.
Not only does getting a nightly routine help your children get on a schedule and sleep better, it can also be used to help them engage their faith. By adding a short prayer after their teeth are brushed and they are in their jammies, you help to set them up to make prayer a daily activity for them. If nurtured correctly, this can carry on for years to come.
Starting out, you’ll simply want to help them get started and before long, they’ll be beating you to the punch. You can start with a simple, “Dear Jesus”, then let them thank Him for different things in their lives. New things are typically good to start with, but remember to include grandmas, grandpas, and other relatives so they don’t begin to think Jesus just provides material things. You’ll likely forget a night or two getting started out, but trust me, they’ll remind you if you forget before long. Ending with sentences like, “protect me tonight. Give me good dreams. I love you, Jesus. Amen”, is a good practice, but make it something special to you and your kids.
Christian Bedtime Books
Doing a bedtime story is a great way to get your kids to wind down before bed. You typically want to stay away from television that late as the screens tend to stimulate their senses and discourage restfulness. By including a Christian Children’s Book alongside the various superhero, princess, and classic books like Goodnight Moon, you help their faith become part of their world. Reading only Christian stories can tend to make them separate their faith from the rest of the world, which can be unhealthy in creating spiritual foundations.
You can find a number of these books on www.Christianbook.com as well as a lot of local retailers. You can also get Bible story books alongside other books with biblical lessons in the stories. This genre has been around for decades, so the selection here should be plentiful.
Practical application of biblical lessons is a good practice for all ages. Teaching children how to behave biblically is critical in their formative years. You can purchase a good kid’s devotional book to get this activity started, find a good daily devotional online, or you can simply pick a Bible verse or story for the day and go over it with your children.
Downloading or purchasing a devotional can be a good option when you are lacking in time. We do live in a rushed culture where time is limited, so it may be easy to find yourself going this route every day. I would suggest trying to mix in lessons you intentionally build yourself, though. You know your children better than anyone, and you should know how to approach a topic with them most effectively. A good example of a lesson might be taking the story of Noah and reinforcing obedience.
Reinforcing Church Daycare Lessons
If you have mastered the art of handing your child off at daycare and not having to take them into service with you, pat yourself on the back. Of course some children have a naturally placid attitude or enjoy the social time with other children, but not all of them. Either way, a lot of church daycares offer some sort of teaching or curriculum. By talking with the educator and finding out what your child is learning that day, you can incorporate that lesson into an activity at home or build off of an event that happens that night. It is possible that your church doesn’t teach a lesson at preschool because there may be one volunteer who just focuses on keeping their head above water. Don’t be hard on them, it is a very important and tough job!
An example of putting this to practice: Your church daycare teaches about Joseph that day. At some point during the day, when your children are fighting about what color is the best and one hauls off and hits the other, you can remind them of when Joseph forgave his brothers in the lesson that day. It will give them something to think about during their timeout! By reminding them of one point in the lesson, the chance is there that they will also think of other things that happened in church, including other lessons.
Watching Christian Cartoons
This is an activity to be used sparingly. It is more of a hands-off approach for those times when you are cooking dinner or need some much-deserved quiet time. The activities that allow you to be more engaged with your child are obviously going to be more effective in helping you disciple them. This isn’t to say that you can’t watch these cartoons with them, though. Some of the popular Christian kid’s shows like Veggie Tales are actually pretty entertaining for adults as well. Then you can also follow up on the lesson point of the show with them.
In the same vein as bedtime books, you don’t want to flood their TV time solely with cartoons about Jesus. These shows should be sprinkled in with the other cartoons that they like so their faith is further encouraged to be made a part of their daily lives, not feel like it is taking away from it. Fielding the various shows they like, though, is still a much-needed practice as some modern cartoons can have some immoral or creepy things that we wouldn’t want our kids seeing. A good Christian movie or cartoon around holidays such as Easter and Christmas is also a really good idea and reinforces the reason for the celebration.
One of our most important jobs as parents is introducing our child to Christ effectively. When the thought of the important task crosses our minds, it is easy to become overwhelmed or even fearful that you won’t do a good job. Just remember to keep it as a focus in your relationship with your child and when you pray for them, and God will bring you through it. He loves your child and wants that relationship to flourish too.
While these are some great ways to disciple your child, they aren’t the only activities to do so. Share some effective activities that you have done with your children in the comments below.