The following guest post is written by Brett Starr, a youth long-time youth pastor near Columbus, Ohio.
I have been in full time student ministry for almost 11 years, but the thing that remains the same is that the most important young people to whom I minister are the three who sleep across the hall from my wife and I every night at home.
Almost every day while I am at work thinking about how to make disciples of students and families within the church where I serve, I cannot escape the reality of what is going on in my own home. I constantly think about how parents could do a better job making disciples of their children, while at the same time evaluating those same things in my own life with my own kids.
Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
I realize that this will happen differently in each home and there is no set or standard way to get this done, but the one thing we cannot ignore is that God has given parents, and fathers in particular, the wonderful opportunity to minister to their own children.
My wife and I have come up with some ways that work in our family, and to be honest, some days they don’t work or we forget or the kids are bouncing off the walls or we don’t get home until 10 or 11 at night and everyone just wants to get to bed. The key for us to keep at it is the thought that we only have these beautiful, wonderful, wacky and awesome kids for probably less than 20 years and we realize that God has given us the job to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
So here are a few things that we do which you might be able to incorporate into your family.
1. We are making our way through the back/extras section of the ESV children’s Bible and we also read portions of Scripture each night except for Wednesday and Sunday. On those days we ask our kids to share with us what they learned that day at church and we talk about that. Also, maybe your kids have their own Bibles they would like to read one of those nights. Imagine your older kids reading God’s word to and teaching your younger ones.
2. We got our 9 year old son the Action Bible, and although it is not even close to a translation, the illustrations are A+ comic book material and the Bible stories are accurate. He read it through in about a month and has continued to read it all the time. I recommend it, so long as it is explained to your son or daughter what type of genre the Bible falls into and that it is not a substitute for a more accurate translation.
3. Last year we decided that when we take our kids to school, on the car ride there we would pray for one classmate and his/her day at school, family life, and future salvation. This year we, mom and dad, would pray those prayers in the car, but after Christmas break we have started having the 2 kids pray on their own and they have taken that on. We have to change things up a bit so it is not useless repetition just throwing a different name in the blank every day, but it is getting them thinking outside themselves, hopefully. :) We also pray at the table and so do they. We also have a dinner discussion time that the kids really love called, “Pow and Wow!!” A “pow” is the not so good thing that happened in the day that punched you in the gut so to speak. The “wow” is the good thing you want others to share in your joy over. Soon we are going to add a third component to the mix, “Pow, Wow and Holy Cow!!” “Holy Cow” will be how you saw God at work in your life today or this week.
4. Once a month we take our kids, ages 4, 7 and 9, into the main worship service to worship with us. We feel that for our kids and kids in general, sometimes more is caught than taught and we want our kids to see us, in the context of the body of believers, opening a Bible, singing to Jesus, praying for others, taking notes from the sermon, being prayed for, etc. When was the last time your kids saw you do any of those things?
5. We, mom and dad, have really been challenged to challenge the heart of our kids in discipline situations and not just seek out simply behavioral change. We attempt to ask them why they do something instead of just punishing the action right away. Lots of times they have no clue, so we have to tell them or lead them to the heart issue. It is tough to not only say to them what they did wrong, but point out their selfishness or greed or whatever the heart issue may be. We feel horrible at times, but it usually brings a more understanding heart from our kids. In the same vein of thought, we try to use the, “Who am I?” “Daddy.” “Does Daddy love you?” “Yes.” “Do you love daddy?” “Yes.” “The way you show daddy that you love him is not only saying that you love him but also obeying what he tells you to do. Can you obey daddy right now?” “Yes.” And we take that straight from God/Jesus who told us that we show we love him through obedience to him as a Father.
6. We want to make our home now and in the future the place where our kids want to bring their friends and not the place they want to get away from. We attempt to engage their friends in conversation and show them that we are truly interested in who they are as a person. Hopefully this is showing them a love that they maybe have never seen and we want them to feel important when they are around. These conversations and times spent with our kids and their friends will also maybe lead to conversations about our faith in Christ.
7. We volunteer in our children’s school reading with kids, practicing math, and planning holiday parties. No matter what age groups we like or don’t like, God has given us kids at that age and he will give us the grace to enjoy and work with kids that age.
8. Also, some of the sweetest times of instructing our kids in the Lord are those ordinary things throughout the day where we can relate God and His word to them. Imagine seeing the sun and talking about the Son, or playing the board game Sorry and talking about forgiveness, or watching UFC with your boys and talk about Jacob wrestling with God or the spiritual battle we are in every day.
Those are just a few things that can be done in the lives of our kids to show them that God is important, his plans and commands are important, and they themselves are important to us. Please hear me say that we never do any of the things above perfectly, and we need to always remind ourselves that it is God who saves our children and not us or a cleverly devised system. We need to do all we know to do and rely on the power of God, His word and the Gospel to do the rest.
QUESTION: How do you incorporate the things of God into your daily life with your kids?
Brett Starr has been in full time student ministry for nearly 11 years and currently serves at New Life Church in Gahanna, Ohio near Columbus. He received his BA in Biblical Studies from Liberty University where he met the love of his life and wife of 11 years, Tammy, and together they have three wonderful children: Jack, who is 9, Layla, who is 7, and Ben, who is 4. Follow him on Twitter or contact him on Facebook.
Posted on February 21, 2012