With Covid, one important piece of church programming that has been ripped away is gatherings of kids. If they can’t gather in groups for Sunday School teachers or youth workers to teach them, what do we do then? How do we disciple children now?
The Goal is Discipleship
We need to reconnect with the goal. Large gatherings or event attendance were never the goal, although they were often how we measured success. The goal is kids becoming disciples: loving God, loving others, growing, serving, learning, being increasingly formed into the image of Christ. That has always been a challenging goal to measure, so we have often taken the shortcut of measuring attendance at events meant to promote those goals.Large gatherings or event attendance were never the goal, although they were often how we measured success. The goal is kids becoming disciples... Click To Tweet
Back to our Roots to Disciple Children
Our mission is to form and disciple children. What resources to we have to do that? Without teachers, youth workers, other kids, and group activities, what is left? Parents. We need to help parents disciple their children. That can sound terrifying to many parents, who feel ill-equipped for the task. But parents discipling their children has always been at the biblical core of generational discipleship.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9 NIV)
Simple is Best as we Disciple Children
The gospel is not complicated. The gospel is simple. It can be passed person to person without professional clergy, without educational systems, without even literacy. We teach our children what we know about God and how we experience God by our actions and our words. They live with us and they learn from us—even if it doesn’t always seem like it.
We teach best through conversation and questions. Ask kids questions and let them explore options. Listen without correcting them. Ask them follow up questions to help them develop their thinking about spiritual things.We teach our children what we know about God and how we experience God by our actions and our words. They live with us and they learn from us—even if it doesn’t always seem like it. Click To Tweet
Initiate Meaningful Conversations with Kids
Janet Logan recently created a free resource to help parents have precisely these kinds of conversations, Kids & God@Home. It’s a FREE set of 52 conversation starters (one for each week of the year). Each has a question to ask a child, a related scripture passage, and a main point for discussion. It’s simple to use, and you can foster some great conversations with your kids about God. Will it teach them everything they ever need to know? No. But it’s a great starting point and gives them the keys to help them unlock more knowledge about God in the future when they want to.
Create Support Systems
A small groups of parents get together at the park and let their kids run around and play. Why not elevate this normal interaction by sharing experiences and ideas? This can be as easy as asking two simple questions:
- How did you experience God this week?
- What is one step you took—or tried to take—to help your children experience God this week?
Even when people feel like they are failing or when they have obstacles they aren’t sure how to overcome, it helps to talk about it. It helps to know you’re not alone and that it’s a struggle. And, because people thrive with familiar rhythms, it will help to know that every week you’ll be asked those same questions. That alone increases your awareness of God’s presence and work in your life. Again, doing this doesn’t provide everything parents will ever need. But it does provide some weekly support for their own spiritual life, some weekly support for their kids’ spiritual lives, and some sense of connection with other people who understand and can pray for one another.
This blog entry is part of a series called “Journey toward a new beginning.” Each entry explores a different topic in light of the Covid-related question: “What if things stay the way they are for the next three to four years? What would you do?” You can see the original blog entry here.
Child-Centered Spirituality– Children often ask deep spiritual questions that can be difficult to answer. Whether you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, foster parent, or other caregiver, this is a book to help you engage in meaningful conversations with your children.