The sixth and final part of our series, “What Do I Do With My ________?” was born from questions that I have heard from parents in our congregation. Many of us are simply confused about how to lead our kids into active participation in the Sunday gatherings. As I have thought about the question, What Do I Do With My Kids?, I have been struck with the weight of responsibility that we all share in helping the youngest among us engage with God. We don’t want our children to be spectators of Sunday worship. We want them to be active participants In Sunday worship.
Listen to these words from Psalm 78:
Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from of old,
things that we have heard and known,
that our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.
He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
and that they should not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
whose spirit was not faithful to God.
(Psalm 78:1-8 ESV)
This Psalm is written by Asaph, the chief musician that David appointed over the singers and instrumentalist in Israel (1 Chronicles 16:4-7). There is probably no one in the whole of Scripture more qualified to write about generational faithfulness than Asaph. Several centuries after he wrote this Psalm, both Ezra and Nehemiah record that the sons of Asaph are still following the Lord, and more specifically, they are still serving by singing praises to God and playing instruments (Ezra 3:10, Nehemiah 11:17).
Asaph’s faithfulness to declare the mighty works of God to the coming generation resulted in hundreds of years of faithful service in his family. Don’t you want that for yourself and your family? Don’t you want your legacy to be that your children and their children and their children follow after the Lord with all their heart? I do. There is little on this earth that I want more than for my great-great grandchildren to walk with Jesus. We should all desire to produce generations of faithful Christians, and it all starts with how we lead our children now.
I am sure that there is so much that I could say about this, but I want to simply offer 3 suggestions for how to foster a love for Christ in your children, especially as it relates to bringing them into “Big Church”, as it is so affectionately called:
1. Read the Bible and Pray With Your Kids Daily
The is so easy and so hard at the same time, but I don’t know if there is a better way to begin to foster affection for God in the heart of a child. We’re not shooting for seminary level, or even small group level discussion. Just read the Bible. Read a Psalm. Read a Bible story. Read some Proverbs. Ask them a few probing questions, answer any questions they have, and pray together.
I try to pray with my kids every night and, now that Caleb understands more, we read Bible stories as well. I do this because I want He and Tirzah to grow up thinking that this is the norm, that of course parents and children pray together, of course the read the Bible together. Our desire for our kids should be that they come to know Christ very early and continue to walk in Him, and I can’t think of a better place to start than in the word and in prayer.
2. Fill Your Home With Songs of Faith
Sing hymns. Sing kids songs. Sing praise songs. Make up tunes for the Psalms and sing those. Even if your children are too young to sing with you, sing Christian songs as lullabies. I love singing “Come Thou Fount” or “Here is Love” or “The Gospel Song” to my children.
The beauty of singing truth to your children is this: Children are naturally moved to joyful expression through music. Caleb started dancing before anyone told him to dance or showed him how. He just moves to the music. So what a perfect opportunity it is for our children to be moved by music that is filled with truth.
It is worth investing money in good solid adult and kids praise songs. If you don’t know where to start, try this. Sovereign Grace Music
3. Model Genuine Engagement and Expression for Your Kids
If you want your kids to learn how to engage with and participate in the service, you need to show them how. When we gather to sing, be intentional about what you do. Don’t use that time to talk with friends or text or read the bulletin. When it’s time to sing, SING. Sing loud. Sing with passion. Sing with the knowledge that your kids are watching you and they will do what you do.
If you engage with God with your heart and mind and express that engagement passionately with your body, your kids will follow your example. But if what you do when the church gathers communicates, whether in your words or in your actions, that congregational singing is unimportant, expect that you kids will do the same.
A quick word to Father’s:
Dads, you have to take the lead on this. If you are not intentional about these things, your family will not learn them. I am dealing with this in my own life right now and fighting to develop good habits so that my wife and my kids are properly lead and cared for spiritually. Like I said, it’s easy, but it’s hard. And it is absolutely essential. Don’t leave it to your wife, and don’t expect your kids to just get it one day. We have to take the lead. Ephesians 5 is no joke. We must lead, love, and serve our families with our dying breath. If we do that, we will honor God.
When I taught this on Sunday, I ended with a word to the kids, which went something like this:
Kids, I want you to do to things:
Be patient and be brave
Be brave in telling them that you like singing praise songs together. Be brave by asking them to pray and read the Bible with you. Sometimes they need your help, and if you ask them to read and sing and pray with you, I know they will.
Thanks for sticking around for this series, it’s been great for me, and I hope it has been a blessing to you. If you have missed any of the other parts, here they are below: