The new year has come bringing with it great opportunities for families. This time of year, when we tend to see more of our kids, can prove to be hugely influential. Our children watch us, listen to us, follow us and learn from us in so many ways. So how can we help these little eternity-dwellers to move in the most important direction—more and more towards Jesus?
There are endless possibilities for investing in our kids during these times. So where do you start? And what do you do when your energy is limited?
Here are three simple ‘who’ questions that your family can ask each day to help you take advantage of the holidays: Who is he? Who are we? Who are they?
Who is he?
Our kids likely know that God is the Creator, King and Saviour, but this question is aimed at bringing him into their world. God is not some abstract truth that doesn’t impact us; he is an ever-present person—active in every single moment of our children’s lives. So let’s help our kids to see God at work using the two ways that he reveals himself: the Bible and creation.
Choose a time each day to read any part of the Bible together and ask, ‘What does this tell us about who God is’? For younger children, you could read a children’s Bible; for older kids, you could pick an unfamiliar story from a regular Bible. You don’t need to do an in-depth Bible study—just spend a few moments considering ‘Who is he?’, and then thank God for that.
For example, read Mark 3:1–6 where we see Jesus in action. Who is he? He is full of compassion, power and righteous anger; he does good and gives life.
God has also revealed himself through his creation:
‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.’ (Isaiah 6:3)
There’s a whole range of everyday things that can point your kids to God. Every colour, flavour, sound, texture or emotion they experience was created by God. As they eat, you could ask them about who made the food, its flavour and their taste buds. Imagine if God didn’t give us taste buds!
When you go to the beach you could ask the kids to name all the things they can see, hear, smell and feel. God gave us all of these things. Imagine if we didn’t have our senses to experience the world around us!
Who is God? He is creative, kind, good and generous. Let’s use this question to help our kids reflect on the goodness of God in their own world.
Who are we?
We may know who God is, but many of our friends, neighbours and even family don’t. Our kids need to get used to the fact that if we trust in Jesus, our family will be different. In Australia, Christians are in a minority, and unless we prepare our kids for that reality by teaching them who they are, they may end up stepping out of the faith.
A simple way to start is by answering the question ‘Who are we?’, even if it hasn’t explicitly been asked. We are Christians—people who trust in Jesus! Here are some ways to help children embrace that identity:
- At the dinner table, don’t just announce that someone needs to say grace. First remind the family that it’s because we are God’s people that we express our gratitude for what he’s given us.
- When disciplining your kids, remind them that God is in charge—as his people we want to listen to and obey him. Also remind them that Jesus died for us, so now we’re actually free to obey!
- When giving kids pocket money, ask them how Christians might choose to spend their money, seeing that all we have is a gift from God.
- When it comes to church, explain that God has adopted Christians into his spiritual family, and that’s why we gather together.
- Tell your kids why we read the Bible: because Christians are those who shape their lives according to the word of the true and living God, not the culture around them.
- Teach your children why we pray: because we are God’s beloved children and he hears us when we call out to him.
Do you see the pattern? If we show our kids how what we do flows out of our Christian identity, it will help them to own that identity for themselves. If they understand why we do what we do, they will be more likely to kick on doing those things (for the right reasons!) as they grow up.
Who are they?
Another awesome way to help our kids’ faith to grow is to get them thinking beyond themselves to others. Every single person that your kids know is going to live forever, either with God or apart from him. That includes friends, family, neighbours, schoolmates, teachers, checkout chicks (or chaps)—all of them. Encouraging our kids to think about who their companions are will help them to get on board with God’s mission. Here is a simple way to ask, ‘Who are they?’:
- Write a list for each member of the family with three people on it (including at least one Christian and one non-Christian). Write a separate list for the whole family with three contacts on it, such as neighbours, cousins or family friends.
- At dinnertime, pray for the people on the family list. At bedtime, pray individually with your kids for the people on their list. Chat together about how you might encourage your Christian contacts, and how you might encourage your non-Christian contacts to start following Jesus.
In our busy lives, it can be hard to prioritise our kids’ spiritual growth. But this summer, you can keep Jesus in the centre of your family simply by asking these three ‘who’ questions each day. And as you do, the extraordinary reality of the Christian life—knowing God, knowing our identity and seeing others as God does—will become your kids’ everyday experience.
Dale Brown lives on the Central Coast of NSW with his wife, Amy, and their two boys. He has been telling kids and youth about Jesus for over 15 years. He also enjoys blogging about Christian parenting at parentsforeternallife.com.
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