In Deuteronomy 11:19 (NIV), the Bible instructs Christian parents to teach their children the foundations of their faith at every opportunity. As you spend time enjoying your children, look for teachable moments to nurture their faith through Christian faith-building activities for the whole family. In addition to home devotions and prayer, you can incorporate lessons that teach biblical principles into your daily lives. As you weave faith naturally into your activities, your family's faith will grow as you learn together what it means to live out your faith.
1. Family Devotions
Psalm 119:11 states, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." To hide God's word in your children's hearts, regularly spend time reading scripture together and talking about biblical truths in terms of practical applications to which your kids can relate. Play games and sing songs that help your little ones memorize key scriptures. For example, write out a scripture using index cards or masking tape and cut the words apart. Challenge them to assemble the cards in the right order. Or, write each word in scrambled form and race to see who can unscramble it first.
2. Discussion Starters
Keeping the lines of communication open between you and your children on spiritual matters is an important part of building your children's faith. St. Margaret of York Catholic church suggests encouraging spiritual conversation by making a stack of discussion-starter cards that ask questions like "If Jesus came to your house for dinner, what would you have on the menu?" and "Where do you feel closest to God and why?" At dinnertime, free time or in the car, draw a card and pose the question to the whole family, letting each person share his thoughts about it. Alternatively, your surroundings can provide many objects that you can use as conversation starters to illustrate biblical principles. For example, traffic control signals and road lines can lead to a discussion of limits and why God has rules. A camping trip in a tent can spark a conversation about how God is a hiding place and shelter in times of trouble. A nature walk offers many opportunities to notice the wonder of God's creations and talk about how He reveals Himself to your children through what He created.
3. Family Prayer
Praying together as a family teaches your children that they can talk to God about anything that troubles them or makes them happy or grateful. In addition to traditional spoken prayer, you can pray through song or through any of the many prayers recorded in scripture. Map out countries where Christians are persecuted and pray for them. Pray for your pastors and their families. Make a family prayer scrapbook with pictures of the entire family as well as friends. Flip through the book together and pray for each person. Pray as you explore the wonders of nature, when you wake up, when you go to sleep or as you create art. Write your prayers in a journal. Make prayer such a natural family habit that your children understand that prayer doesn't have to be long, flowery and formal, but simply a way to have a continual dialogue with God and pour out their hearts to Him. This can happen anywhere, anytime and in any form that helps them feel close to God.
Galatians 5:13 exhorts Christians to serve one another in love. Obeying this command widens your children's perspectives beyond themselves to consider the needs of others. Look for ways to practice kindness every day. For example, give a child five pebbles to put in one pocket, telling her to move one to another pocket every time she blesses someone else through kindness and smiles. You might also ask your church leaders how your family can serve the church together through volunteer work. Moreover, you might find ways that your family can serve the less fortunate in your community together by visiting shut-ins, helping with yard work, reading to them or simply talking to them about what you are learning about God. Your family might also serve at a community food bank, clothes closet or shelter.