With the onset of summer, we know that church attendance can be a bit more infrequent for families. Therefore, the Riverbend team and I have developed a guide that will help you stay active with your kids’ faith development. The first devotional guide is below.
When it comes to faith, the family is the the primary context for kids to develop their faith. Therefore, it is our responsibility as parents to pass on our faith to our kids. Moses instructed us in Deuteronomy 11:19 to teach our kids about God “when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Therefore, every moment of family life can be an opportunity to pass on the faith.
In order to help you capture these moments to develop faith in your kids this summer, we want to offer you this guide called, “Simple Steps,” to help you develop faith, hope and love at home. No matter if they are infants or teenagers, there are simple steps we can take to invest in their relationship with God.
All it takes is a little creativity, and a commitment to be intentional. Our hope is that this guide will help you with both when it comes to spending time with your kids.
Grace & Peace,
Scott Vermillion, Pastor
What to do about Sunday School?
Every Sunday is an opportunity to get in on the investment of faith that was made at church, but most parents miss it. It’s not that we don’t try. In our attempt to connect with our kids, we ask the standard follow-up question, “What did you learn today in Sunday School?”
Most kids hate this question (no matter if they are preschoolers or teenagers). Why? It’s a boring question! Kids don’t want to give parents reports on what they learned. They want to live in the moment. Here are some ways to make the most out of Sundays on your way home from church:
Infant: Obviously, infants are not in a position to talk…yet. However, take this time to be intentional with your kids by praying over them in the car ride home. They aren’t going to be able to understand what you’re saying, but God will. What is important is that you are creating a space to bless them. You can take what you learned and turn it into a prayer of blessing your child.
Preschool: Ask them to make up a song about the story they read on the way home. Most toddler’s love singing, and when you ask them to make up a song about their experience in Sunday School, they will no doubt be surprised by the request and be willing to fulfill it. You might need to start it off if your kids are a little shy. You can start by making up a song about what you learned, and encourage them to join in.
Elementary: Ask your kids to describe the characters in the story they read together in Sunday School. Don’t settle for boring descriptions. Get them to tell you what kind of clothes they would wear, what kind of hairstyle, and what color socks they would have. Ask them to tell you what kind of kids they would be if those bible characters were in their class at school. Would they hang out with them on the playground? Why or why not? When you ask slanted questions instead of direct questions about what they learned in Sunday School, you will engage their creativity which will be fun for them and get them talking freely.
Middle School: Ask questions about how the passage they read together would help them in various circumstances. For instance, you could ask: “How would what you learned today help you when you face life circumstances like feeling rejected, or school stress, or having success, or when you see someone being left out?” When you connect their everyday circumstances with what they are learning, you are helping them see how what they learn is practical for their everyday life. *Special Note: Sometimes it’s best to wait for dinner to ask these questions as moods change frequently in this stage.
High School: Ask questions about the values of the characters in the story that they read. For instance, you could ask, “What values did the people in the story have? Which of those values are you attracted to? Why? How would you go about adding those values to your life?” Then conclude with this question, “How can I be praying for you this week?” Then pray for them out loud, right there. Believe it or not, teenagers want to know that their parents care about them. As much as they are trying to find their own identity, they still need our encouragement and investment in their lives (even if they say they don’t). Praying for them is a great way to keep our investment going. *Special Note: Sometimes it’s best to wait for dinner to ask these questions as teenagers are often at their best at dinner.
Questions are built in curiosity generators.
If we learn to ask good questions, we can begin to help our kids envision a world where a relationship with God is valuable and desirable. So, let’s up our game this summer when it comes to asking good follow-up questions to our kids on our way home from church.
Going the Extra Mile:
For Preschoolers and Elementary Kids:
Let the passenger parent record the song or conversation for a keepsake. Or you can do this over lunch and record the songs. These little moments will be treasures forever.
For Middle Schoolers:
Have the passenger parent write down or record at home the ways that those stories would encourage them in various circumstances. Then when your kids encounter those circumstances, remind them of what they said about those passages in order to encourage them.
For High Schoolers
Have the passenger parent write down or record at home the values your kid is trying to adopt. Then, when you see those values emerging in your kid, tell them how you see that value developing in them. This will go a long way to encourage them when they know you see those values lived out.
Download the ParentCue App
If you don’t have this by now, stop what you are doing and download it from your app store (http://theparentcue.org/app/). This app follows along with the content that our children’s ministry uses, so we as parents can be better equipped to help our kids take home what they learn at church. It is an exceptional resource for you to coach your kids in faith, so get it today… and don’t forget to open it up and use it throughout the week.
WARNING: There is a right way and a wrong way to ask questions.
If your questions are open ended (not answerable with ‘yes’ or ‘no’) and allow for your kids to take the conversation where they want to go with it, chances are you will find your kids enjoy the experience as much as you do.
However, if your questions are more like a police interrogation room, then your kids are going to shut down. This happens when we try to lead our kids to a conclusion or to have some epic revelation about God.
Remember, spiritual growth is primarily God’s business. We can get in on it by asking good questions. This helps our kids generate curiosity about God. The moment we take over to make sure our kids “get something out of Sunday School” will be the moment we are working at cross purposes with the Spirit in their lives.
Be patient when asking questions. Questions can be used to develop faith in our kids even if they don’t engage the way we hoped they would. Just keep at it. Question asking is both a skill to be developed and an art to explore.