How to Teach Spirituality to Children
No matter how long (or short) you’ve been a believer, you can teach your children tremendous spiritual lessons. The key is first to be growing spiritually yourself and then start passing truths on to your kids.
Deuteronomy 6:7-9 gives the instructions, “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”
Start with Yourself
Notice that the first job of any parent is to nurture your own relationship with God and to cherish the principles of God’s Word in your own heart. Parenting has a way of forcing you to prayer and the study of the Bible. It’s not too long before any parent realizes that help is needed for raising a child. God is the one who changes a child’s heart, and parents are just the vehicles that God uses in the process. Parents partner with the God of the universe to bring about heart change.
Some parents make the mistake of delegating the spiritual training of children to the church, believing that they’re doing their spiritual duty by taking their kids to Sunday School and youth group. The church is a great support but it can’t take the place of the home and the power of time when it comes to passing on a spiritual heritage. Even if you’ve chosen to send your children to a Christian school, you’ll want to retain the role of primary spiritual trainer of your children.
Your spiritual transparency at home will do a lot to help open spiritual windows for your child. Take time to pray with your kids about the challenges they face, and thank the Lord for his answered prayers. You might say, “Son, I’m not feeling well today. Would you please pray for me before I go to work?” Or, “I’ll be praying for you and your test today. I’ll be eager to hear how it goes.” Some parents only pray before meals or at bedtime but you want your kids to know that God is available all the time. Praying throughout the day helps to make that truth come alive.
Be creative in teaching kids the value of their spiritual growth. You might keep a growth chart on the back of a door to measure a child’s physical growth. Right next to it jot down milestones of spiritual growth and development like a child’s salvation, baptism, and when they took opportunity to share their faith or enjoy an answer to prayer.
The Language of Children is Activity
Informal discussions about God provide children with in-life opportunities to see how faith applies to experience. As children see you talking about the Lord during daily activity they’ll recognize the relevance of their spiritual lives. Also take time to set up some kind of formal spiritual training, but be sure to make it fun. The best devotions in family life don’t usually happen around a table. With young children you might teach a Bible story in fun ways – in the closet with a flashlight. With an older child you might use a science experiment or cooking exercise to illustrate a spiritual truth.
One dad said, “We boiled three objects, a carrot, an egg, and coffee beans, and talked about the heat in our own lives and what it does to us. Some people are like the carrot and become more limp and weak with pressure. Some are like the egg and become more hardened to life. And some are like the coffee beans that use the heat to influence their world with a pleasant smell and a nice drink.” They laughed together as they talked around the stove and Dad gave several examples of people he knew that acted like carrots or eggs.
Dad used the story of Joseph in Genesis to talk about the benefits of trials and suffering. Joseph was mistreated by his brothers, sold into slavery, mistreated by Potiphar’s wife, thrown into prison, but he kept coming back. He was able to respond well in the midst of difficult problems.
Dad reported that the activity was fun for their family but he continued, “A couple of days later my son came home from school and said, ‘I was like the coffee, Dad.’ I didn’t know what he meant but he went on to tell me that there was a problem at school that he handled well and remembered the coffee beans we’d boiled.”
Going it Solo?
Even if your spouse isn’t working with you on the spiritual training of your children, you do it faithfully and you’ll see great rewards. One mom said, “I used to be discouraged because my husband wouldn’t lead a devotion time in our family. I had to get over that because I knew that my kids needed ways to connect to God’s spiritual strength and I could help them. The amazing thing was that as I began teaching spiritual truths to my kids, my husband became more interested as well. It wasn’t long before he was also leading spiritually with the kids.”
Creativity can be a challenge sometimes. The most important thing is that you are transparent with your kids. If you are growing spiritually and sharing that with your children it’ll make an impact on their hearts. Don’t minimize the importance of spiritual training. Sometimes sports, academics, and extra activities crowd out the most important things in a child’s life. Remember that teaching spiritual truths to children isn’t optional. It’s part of our God-given responsibility. Many parents work hard to leave a financial inheritance for their kids. Don’t forget to also leave a spiritual heritage for them by training them spiritually.
The Seven Parenting Tools
There are seven tools in the Biblical Parenting Coaching Program used to bring about major changes in children. Each parent needs to tweak the recipe and use different combinations of the seven tools in order to reach a child’s heart. Seasoned and trained coaches are standing by to help you develop that recipe and implement it with your unique child. The fourth tool is PRAYER. The others are RELATIONSHIP, FIRMNESS, VISIONING, COACHING, TEACHING, and TRANSFERRING RESPONSIBILITY. Learn more about the Biblical Parenting Coaching Program here.
Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN teach live parenting seminars around the country. They have written 15 books on parenting and have created five video training programs for parents. You may learn more at http://www.biblicalparenting.org. or www.thrivingkidsconnection.com
Listen to Dr Scott’s podcast on Children and the Holy Spirit.