I received an email this past week with a section entitled: “10 Tips for Teaching Young Children About God.” The tips were written by Stephanie Carmichael. The email came from Matthias Media, publisher of the evangelism tract entitled Two Ways to Live (which I strongly recommend, along with The Story, published by Spread Truth Ministries). I thought this might be a helpful list for Christian parents who could use these simple tips/reminders as they seek to obey Christ’s Great Commission by being the primary disciplers of their own children. So, here is the list:
Teach all the time: Young children live in the moment. Help them to learn in the moment by making the most of opportunities as they arise. Talk about God in the day-to-day things you are doing.
Teach at a special time: Try to set aside a special time to read about God. Prepare for this time. If you are going to read the Bible, think about what you will read and how to simplify and explain it.
Questions and answers: Listen to your children’s questions, and give quality time to answering them. But also ask them questions about what you’ve been trying to teach to check they have understood.
Teach through your life: You are a living example (or visual aid) of someone who loves God. Set a faithful example of dependence on God and let them see you reading the Bible for yourself.
Be prayerful: Like adults, children need God’s help to grow in Christ and they can learn to pray. So pray for them and pray simple prayers with them (e.g. “sorry God that we…”, “thank you God for…”, “God, please help…”).
Be simple: Young children are not abstract thinkers so be literal and concrete. Use real examples where possible (eg. God made this flower). Use simple vocabulary that they can understand. Avoid jargon.
Be specific: Move from the specific (God loves Ben) to the general (God loves everyone). Use lots of familiar examples so that they can understand.
Repeat and repeat again: You might get tired of saying it, but remember young children thrive on repetition.
Be thankful: Approach God with thankfulness. Model to your children how we can thank God in various situations and what we can thank God for.
Be visual: Young children learn through their eyes as well as their ears. Use pictures, visual aids, picture books etc.
This is obviously a very simple list. There is nothing earth-shattering here. But, it does provide some simple, practical tips for ways parents can live in obedience to Deuteronomy 6:4-9, keeping the Word of God before their children at all times. I have personally used all of these principles over the years (with varying levels of consistency) in seeking to help my own children grow as Christ-followers.
To those of you who are Christian parents, I would offer one additional reminder as you seek to establish a culture of Christian discipleship in your home:
Remember that God Himself, by the working of His Holy Spirit, is the only one that can change your child’s heart. Only God can draw your child to Himself for salvation. Only God can bring about His sanctifying work in your child’s heart after your child repents and surrender’s his/her life to Christ. Therefore, pray fervently for God to do His work in the hearts and lives of your children – drawing them to Himself for salvation and fashioning them more and more into the image of Christ.
My prayer is that God will use your life for His glory as you seek to make disciples “as you are going,” starting at home. Feel free to comment below regarding ways you have sought to teach/disciple your children toward seeing them become fully-functioning followers of Christ.