1. Value the gospel. What children need first and foremost is the gospel. Not a healthy balanced diet, enrolment is co-curricular opportunities, strong academic results or invitations to birthday parties. Do not underestimate or devalue their responsibility in discipiling children. Discipleship of children is a partnership between home and church. Children are discipled at church, but parents have the primary responsibility in discipiling their children. In Deuteronomy Chapter 6 parents are called to talk about the bible with their children at all times and in all circumstances.
2. Encourage a connected worldview. Very often children brought up in Christian households attending church regularly, will begin with a connected Christian worldview. But as time goes on, they will become more aware that everyone else doesn’t necessarily read the bible or know Jesus as king. Without constant guidance and help with integration, children tend to narrow their worldview and assume being a Christian is reserved for church on Sunday. So use ‘God talk’ to show how the Christian worldview should permeate every aspect of our lives.
3. Use daily routines to open ‘God talk’ conversations. Think about daily routines which could be an opportunity to talk to your children about Jesus and the bible. This might be eating breakfast, driving to school or preparing dinner. Plan a couple of conversation starters that provide opportunities to talk about the bible or faith in Jesus. For example ‘How will you live like Jesus today?’ or ‘How can I pray for you today?’
4. Talk about church on the way to church. Prepare your children for gathering with God’s family. As you drive or walk to church, ask or remind your child what they learnt last week. If you’re not sure check last week’s craft that has the main idea, the weekly Facebook post or the termly curriculum overview. This may not always be a deep and meaningful conversation. But be ready to prompt and guide your children to prepare their hearts and minds for church.
5. Ask your child about what they have learnt at church. As you collect your child look at the series poster on the door or check the craft activity to see the big idea and bible passage of the story. Youth parents receive an email each week with a lesson overview because there is no craft activity. Prompt your child with this big idea and ask what they’ve learnt. The goal isn’t for your child to accurately repeat the bible story. But rather model that you care what your child is learning at church and want to engage. When there is an opportunity, share what you have learnt at church.
6. Share what you’re learning from the bible. Don’t do your devotions in secret, but rather let your child observe you reading the Bible and tell them what you’ve learnt. Also make it known that you’re going to Community Group to study the bible. These can be just brief but regular conversations that model that reading the Bible is essential to the Christian life.
7. Thank God for blessings. When children talk about the nice parts of their day, parents often use phrases such as ‘Aren’t you lucky’ or ‘How special is that’. Use these opportunities to acknowledge God’s blessing by using phrases such as ‘What a blessing from God’ or ‘We can be thankful to God’.
8. Answer questions with a biblical perspective. Children are inquisitive and will ask questions about friendship, life, death and suffering. When answering these questions give a biblical perspective. The question may not start from a biblical context, but integrate their Christian worldview and explain how the Bible can answer their question. This often takes time. So you have to intentionally slow down and seize the opportunity.
9. Seek out opportunities for hard topics. We are living in a very secular society. Our children are not immersed in a neutral worldview but an inherently earthly worldview. Children are constantly being exposed to secular opinions on topics such as money, family, gender, sex and much more. So Christian parents need to be proactive in seeking out hard topics and presenting a biblical worldview. This can feel uncomfortable and you won’t always give an eloquent explanation. But if you’re actively seeking out hard topics, you’ll have many opportunities to talk these issues through.
10. Read Christian stories and picture books. This provides additional avenues for ‘God talk’ in a natural and authentic way. Books for Littles Ones is a great series for younger children. Alison Mitchell has written a range of wonderful picture books for older children. The picture books can be stories from the bible or they can be about concepts such as forgiveness, love and repentance.