One essential truth of living a life of faith is that Christianity cannot be expressed in a vacuum. Real faith directly affects every decision we make in every facet of our lives. For most kids, the only exposure they receive to biblical teaching comes from Sunday school class, and while that is certainly an invaluable experience, it is only one part of a growing faith. As parents, one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is a lived example of what faith looks like beyond just hearing kids Bible stories on Sunday mornings.
Christian parenting and teaching your kids about Jesus outside of Sunday school doesn’t mean you have to develop your own curriculum or put on skits every morning. In fact, incorporating faith lessons organically into your life as a family is a great way to model how faith directly influences everyday situations.
If you’re looking for more ways to begin discussions about faith with your family, check out these four opportunities to teach kids about faith at home.
Americans are busier than ever, and that may feel doubly true for parents of small children. Between work, driving to dance class or soccer, and scrambling to help with homework, adding one more thing to your plate is probably the last thing you want.
But the fact of the matter is, none of us can find time for family prayer – we need to make the time. By scheduling a family prayer time and making it a priority, you demonstrate for your kids the value behind taking a few moments every day to pause, breathe, and reflect via time with God.
Praying together can also be a prime opportunity for you to practice the power of vulnerability and trust with your kids. Your family prayer time might provide an opportunity to discuss the stressful day you had at work, which could help make your kids feel comfortable talking about an issue they are having with their friends at school. By creating an environment where everyone can bring their joys and burdens before God together, you demonstrate the power of prayer in everyday life.
If opening up family prayer time seems daunting, don’t feel like you have to become a brilliant orator before you can teach your kids how to pray. A great place to start could be simply praying some of the Psalms together. The book of Psalms has a beautiful range of prayers for all of life’s circumstances and can open the door to family prayers in times of gratitude (Psalm 107), grief (Psalm 4), and celebration (Psalm 148).
Speaking of Psalms, incorporating a frequent time of devotion into your family practices is another way to teach kids about Jesus outside of Sunday school.
If your children are especially young, maybe now isn’t the time to dust off your concordance or learn New Testament Greek. These family devotionals are simple, organized lessons to help your kids dive into Bible stories.
For something even simpler, teaching your kids the Bible may look like picking a verse to memorize together and let that one verse be your guide for the week. Write it down and post it throughout various places in your house as a daily reminder of God’s word.
Group effort can make memorizing scripture easier and can open the floor for opportunities to discuss how each family member can apply the verse to their daily life. As they say, “Teamwork makes the dream work.”
There’s a reason why Holy Communion involves food. Throughout the Bible, numerous believers share important meals together as an opportunity to nourish their bodies as well as their spirits.
Family meal time is one of the first things that gets put off when schedules get busy and dinner around the table quickly devolves into fast food in the car or plates hauled off to separate rooms of the house.
While it may be tempting to lower shared meals on your list of priorities, biblical tradition emphasizes the importance of practicing communal meals. It’s amazing just how many times Jesus is found eating with his disciples in the four gospels!
Sharing meals with your kids opens up a world of opportunities to demonstrate faith at home. You can demonstrate gratitude for full bellies and pray for those without. You can teach a good work ethic by involving your kids in the cooking and cleaning processes. Above all else, a shared meal around the table is a guaranteed opportunity to look into the eyes of your family and share a few moments in their presence, whatever the conversations may entail.
If schedules make a classic dinner time impossible, don’t lose hope. Sharing breakfast or lunch together can be equally valuable if it is the best time for your whole family to come together. If time constraints really have you bound, taking a moment to park in the fast food lot while your family eats (we’ve all been there a time or two) can provide an opportunity for faith-filled conversation – and a moment to breathe for the on-the-go parent.
Ultimately, Christian parenting should involve helping our kids learn about Jesus by learning how to be the hands and feet of Jesus to our communities. It is vital that kids are aware of the needs in their immediate communities and the ways they can demonstrate the love of Christ to the people around them.
Getting involved in youth group service trips is wonderful, but incorporating service projects into your family faith practices models a Christ-like lifestyle to your children.
Be like the earliest Christian communities and look for opportunities to show love to your neighbors. Maybe your family could visit an elderly man or woman in your neighborhood who may be lonely. Perhaps you could walk around your street picking up small bits of trash to teach stewardship over Creation.
No matter how your family decides to serve, completing small projects in your community shows your children that doing God’s work doesn’t end around noon on Sundays, but it affects every moment of our lives.
Whether you’ve been incorporating family faith practices at home for years or you’re brand new to the process, taking advantage of these opportunities to demonstrate faith at home teaches kids about the impact of Jesus on our lives from an early age.
Beginning these practices can be as simple as piling up on the couch around the family Bible, but if you’re looking for more resources to get started, check out the What’s In the Bible? series to jumpstart your family faith discussions.