How to Teach Your Kids
'Grace' all the Time
Most importantly, they should know that our hope is not getting what we deserve, but getting what Jesus deserves. The Bible calls that "grace". Take every opportunity to remind them of that. At meals ("did God give us this food because we're good or because He's good?"), at bedtime ("thank you God for treating us way better than we deserve"), and ALL THE TIME.
There are some very good children's storybook Bibles and there are some terrible ones. When you read your kid a Bible story, be sure that:
- God is the main character of the story
- God is the hero of the story
- You use that story to teach them that God is trustworthy
- You use that story to teach them how much we need God
- Let them know that this happened to get God's people ready for Jesus to come one day.
For help with this, check out our list of helpful questions to ask when telling a Bible story to kids which is including as an attached file on this page.
We'd recommend the following Children's Storybook Bibles:
- Sally Lloyd-Jones: The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name
- David Helm:The Big Picture Story Bible.
Simply Reading the Bible Together
When your chilren are a little older, say school-age, you should try reading through an actual Bible together. Try picking a book of scripture (we would suggest either one of the Gospels or one of the letters written to the churches) and read through it, changing words into your kid's language as you go, and asking them questions as you go. What works for us is letting them know they'll be a fun 'quiz' at the end. The same guidelines would be applicable as for Bible Stories (see above), but try adding these questions:
- What does this teach us about Jesus that makes it better news to get what He deserves?
- What does this part of the Bible teach us about what a person who loves Jesus would do?
- What would a person who loves Jesus do if they didn't do that? (Anwer: repent and ask God to forgive and change them)
- What would it say about a person if they refused to obey Jesus in this way? (Answer: they probably don't love Him)
Be sure to structure regular prayers throughout your daily routine.
Meals are an important to do this because they are an obvious time to recognize that God has taken care of us like a good Father.
Heading off to school is an opportunity to ask the Lord to take care of them, to ask Him to help them remember and trust Him, and to ask Him to help them to give Him glory, amoung numerous other things.
The end of the day is a fantastic opportunity to thank the Lord for all the ways He took care of the family.
Another good time to help your child to pray is when they've done something wrong. Be sure to remind them that they can find full forgiveness from the Lord, and that He celebrates when they do!
Here are some helpful things to remember when praying with kids:
- Remind them constantly that prayer to God as your Father is something only Jesus deserves, but He gave that to us as a gift we don't deserve. That's why we pray "in Jesus' name". Try adding "please hear this not because we deserve it, but because Jesus deserves it". The more they realize how perfect Jesus is, the more confident they'll be in their prayers to God.
- Help them think of things they have that they need and thank God for them
- Help them think of things they will need and ask God for them
- Help them to think of other people who might need something from Him
- Often ask that God would make their trust (and yours!) in Jesus stronger and stronger
- Help them to think of things about God that we need (eg. He's strong, He's smart, He never breaks promises) - and then together thank Him for those things.
Throughout the church's 2000 year history, believers have found it helpful to write out a series of questions and answers to help teach children and new believers some of the most critical things about God. We have found a fantastic resource for this, it's called New City Catechism. It has one question and answer for each of the weeks of the year. It is tremendous. It asks questions such as "how many persons are in God?" - Answer: "Three - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit". Find it here as an online app or as an iPad app.
Depending on your style or your kids' style, you might even not want to let them know you're actually doing this in a formal way. Just try asking them the question and help them answer it... find out what works for your family.
It's good to worship regularly as a family, and we've got some ideas if you click here.
It's also critical that you make worshipping with your church a very regular part of your week. Singing with them and praying is so good to do. Be sure to 'talk this up' with them - how important to you it is, why you enjoy it, why you need it. Make sure to ask them questions later about what was sung or taught. Be prepared to tell them a couple of lines that were sung that you really loved, or a brief summary of something you've learned.