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As a Christian parent, we want nothing more than for our children to grow up knowing who God is and raising them as disciples of Christ. Sure, we take them to church and maybe even pray before meals, but what else can we do to cultivate a culture of faith in the home? How can we teach our children about God from birth to adulthood?
First, children learn by what they see. In this post, Monkey See, Monkey Do, I talk more about that, but demonstrating your own faith is one of the greatest things you can do to stoke the flames of your children’s own passion for God.
Second, recognize the little moments in life that are teachable.
Third, incorporate formal and informal biblical teaching in your home.
Here are some tips for teaching your children of every age about God in everyday life:
You and Your Relationship with Our Father
Read the Bible and Allow Your Kids to “Catch” You Reading It
The more you read and study The Word of God, the more of its truths you will wrap yourself in. As you read the Bible and memorize verses, you will more easily be able to share them with your children at appropriate moments. (More on this in a bit). In addition, when your children see you making time with God a priority, they will learn that it is a normal and enjoyable thing to do. On the flip side, if you moan about reading it or admonish them during your “quiet time”, they will associate reading the Bible as a negative thing.
Make Your Relationship With God “Contagious”
If you are excited about something, others around you will be excited (or at least curious). Demonstrate your excitement about God’s love for you and your family. Share your excitement about attending church, Bible study, small group and other faith or church activities. If you do, you’re excitement will be contagious and your children’s passion for God will be ignited. Children model our behavior. If you want to teach your children about God, being a “contagious Christian” is the most important way to do that.
Be willing to be vulnerable.
Often, we shield our children from our struggles. We don’t want them to worry or be exposed to “adult issues”. While you don’t have to give them details, share with them when you are struggling or when God has blessed you. Demonstrate that God is good all the time and that we can lean on Him when life doesn’t go our way.
When you make a mistake or talk harshly to them, ask for forgiveness and use that moment to discuss how God forgives us, too.
Share Experiences From Your Own Childhood With Them
Isn’t it funny how kids can think that their parents were never kids? That you couldn’t possibly understand what they are going through? Share with your kids (age appropriately, of course) your own childhood struggles and even sins. Allow them the chance to ask questions and, be open and vulnerable when responding. Explain how God was at work in your life and how “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Your Relationship With Your Children
Life is busy and we all have tons of responsibilities but to-do lists can wait. Our children will only be young for a season. In order to build healthy, loving relationships with our kids, we need to spend time with them and make them a priority. (The same is true for our relationships with our spouses and God!)
Show them that they are a priority. Don’t make your kids feel like they are bothering you or a burden. Don’t demonstrate that work (or the house or even ministry) takes precedence over them.
Read, play, talk and have fun with each of your children – just one on one and as a family. Encourage open and honest communication. Allow them to freely and without judgement share their opinions. Ask God to show you how to respond in love, especially when you don’t agree. Show them unconditional love (and remind them that this is the love that God has for us).
Talk, Ask, Listen
Look For Teachable Moments in the Mundane
We don’t need to wait for struggles to find the opportunity to share God’s love and commands. Teachable moments, moments that give us a natural opportunity to teach our children about God happen most often in the daily “grind” of life. You can use everyday moments – from meal time (praying before meals) to potty time (talk with them about how some children live in areas without bathrooms and how we can love and bless them) and from homework (how the Bible is God’s instruction manual for us, asking for godly wisdom, etc.) to sports activities (sportsmanship, loving our “enemies”, etc.) to point out how God provides for us and how He commands us to love others.
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Teaching Your Children About God – By Age
In addition to the suggestions below, I encourage you to include your children in daily Bible reading and devotion time, family prayer (at meal and other times) and participation in Sunday school, church services and youth group as well as church camps, where appropriate by age.
It’s never too early to teach your babies or toddlers about Jesus. Paul reminds Timothy that he had the privilege of knowing the holy Scriptures “from infancy” (2 Timothy 3:14-15).
Great topics for babies and toddlers to teach them about God:
- God created everything (He created us, the animals, the earth, etc.)
- God loves you so much. (and He wants us to love others the same way)
- As you feed them, change them or dress them, talk with them. Tell them how you love them and God loves them. Mention Jesus throughout the day. As they grow, they will be able to understand more and more, but set the foundation for a life of faith.
- Read Bible stories to them
- Sing songs
- Youtube has a ton of great videos by publishers you can trust including Zondervan. Instead of mindless tv, share a video like this with your children then ask them questions to help them to understand.
This is the perfect age to teach children what wisdom is and how to apply God’s Word, and the wisdom within, to everyday situations. At this age, many children are hungry for learning. Find fun ways to share about God and Jesus and being the little sponges they are, they will soak it up.
Some suggested topics to teach your elementary school-aged child about God:
- The Bible and how God speaks to us
- The ten commandments
- God sees and knows everything
- We can talk to him and He listens (praying)
- Grace and mercy
- If they don’t already have an age appropriate Bible, purchase one for them. Here are some great Bible’s for elementary school-aged children: The Action Bible for Kids, NIV Adventure Bible, or the Sparkle and Change Bible, perfect for young girls.
- Bible craft activities. Pinterest has a ton, but see below for several wonderful sites for resources on teaching your kids about God. Each has a variety of Bible crafts and activities to do at home.
- Family devotions. Once a week or more, sit down as a family and enjoy a devotion. It will lay more bricks in your family’s faith foundation and encourage communication. Here are a few recommendations: Exploring Grace Together, The Biggest Story or Might Acts of God. (The latter is fantastic on audiobook, as well – perfect for family road trips!)
- Read books on Christian parenting. I first read Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp back around 2000 and I continue to recommend it to parents seeking to raise a disciple of Christ.
- Memorize Bible Verses.
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Once your child hits middle school they are at the age to truly begin to understand God and His plan of salvation.
If you haven’t already discussed them, (aside from high-level conversations at church and Sunday school) here are some great topics for middle schoolers to teach them about God:
- Jesus’ death and resurrection
- Self image
- Fruit of the Spirit
- If you child is “growing out” of their Bible, consider a “tween” or early teen Bible such as NLT Girls Life Application Study Bible or NIV, Teen Study Bible. An age appropriate Bible includes images, stories and text that your child can relate to at that stage of their life. Their Bibles become prized possessions to them.
- Read great books on Christian parenting. I recommend Encourage My Tween’s Heart Workbook by Lee Felix (it’s a quick read but extremely insightful).
- Continue family devotions (or start, if you haven’t been doing them).
- Serve with your child in ministry and/or encourage them to take part in local ministry
Not quite at adulthood, but rapidly heading in that direction, your child is ready to discuss some deeper faith topics. Even if you have not been teaching your child about God to your satisfaction up to this point (or if you, yourself have only recently become a believer), it’s not too late to start.
Great topics to study and discuss about God with your highschooler:
- Biblical worldview
- Spiritual gifts
- Now that your child is in high school and quickly approaching their adulthood, it’s time to graduate to an adult Bible. I particularly like to recommend a study Bible to help them learn more about Bible history, people, timelines, etc.
- Continue or start doing devotions as a family
- Ensure that your teen is attending church and Bible study, as well as youth group, camp, etc. as mentioned above
- Encourage them to continue or start serving in ministry
- Discuss careers in and out of ministry
- Share relevant teaching on Youtube and other media such as the one below.
There’s a wealth of books, courses and other resources for teaching your children about God, but Teaching Kids About God from Focus on the Family continues to be a classic. I read it when my now grown children were young.
Be sure to practice what you preach! When you live a life that helps Jesus shine through you and your kids can see the importance of God in your life, they can learn who Jesus is, through you.
Finally, pray for your children that God would turn their hearts to Him. Below is a sample prayer you may wish to pray for your child’s salvation.
Prayer for Our Child’s Salvation
Lord, we earnestly desire to raise our children in a way that pleases you and leads their hearts to you. Please draw ___________ near to you. Let them be drawn to Your light, love and kindness.
I pray that in Your perfect timing, _________ will see and truly comprehend that we are all sinners and have all fallen short of Your glory. I pray, too that they may also know that You so loved the world, that You gave Your only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. You have saved us, Father and want to save them, too, for you love them so very much!
Father, please give me the wisdom and discernment to teach my child(ren) about You and how marvelous You are. Give me the words to speak and help me live a life that points to You.
Thank you, God, for answered and unanswered prayers. Amen.
Because of Him,