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Discipling the Littles (part I)

Hey friends! Summer vacays are coming to a close and notebooks, teachers, and projects are getting closer! As we look forward to new beginnings as the new school year starts, it is a great opportunity to begin discipleship at home or to keep teaching kids about God at home! Here are a few ideas for those who would like encouragement or ideas for exactly how to go about it!

Sitting up, crawling, and walking to the first day of school, friends, and extracurricular activities are exciting events in children’s lives. What a privilege and responsibility to teach and guide people who grow up to influence the world! Part of the honor of parenthood is discipling children at home, teaching them Who God is, how to have a personal relationship with God, and the importance of telling others about His love.

Research shows the importance of family influence on children. The Family Pediatrics Report (2003) explained that the development of children is significantly influenced by interpersonal relationships within the family. According to the Encyclopedia of Children’s Health, children's ideas of divinity, right and wrong, are shaped by their families. Based on these facts, we understand that discipleship at home is essential for children’s spiritual development!

Children are at church around three hours a week, which leaves 165 hours they spend somewhere else. For those not in school yet, those hours may be spent at home. Regardless, parents are the biggest influence on their children’s lives. They are the ones their children look up to for their entire lives.

Some parents may wonder exactly how to ensure their children learn about God, grow to have a personal relationship with Him, and can grow to change the world. By simply being intentional, parents can easily share the Truth of God in daily interaction with their children. This is discipleship at home!

LOVE: Take every opportunity to love, love, love your children! Let’s be clear that it is important to love, not to the exclusion of discipline, of course. It is important to create a healthy balance of love and discipline (Proverbs 3:12). In John 13:34-35, John the disciple instructs us to “love one another, just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.” As they age, children will also respect what their parents say because they know they are loved unconditionally. Although they will rebel as part of the growth process toward independence, they will remember what their parents teach because they have a healthy relationship. Show them love in as many ways as possible. Hug them. Baby massages show love to the youngest of families. Pat them on the back. Tell them. Stick notes in their lunch boxes. Tell them God made them special. Spend time with them together and as individuals if there are siblings. Take them to ice skate. For free, take them for a picnic at the park. If possible, small treats show love as well. Create family traditions, such as ice cream after check-ups at the doctor. Showing love is unique for each family, so find what creative ways work. The bonus here is that the children will see this loving behavior and begin to love on their own family members and others as well.

CHURCH: Acts 2:42-47 shows the early church meeting together to learn Scripture, pray, and hang out. We see the excitement in Acts as people were saved and the church grew. Church is a partnership between the family and the body of Christ. Although discipleship is at home, we attend church to worship God, learn about Him, and connect with like-minded believers. The children’s minister is a great source of encouragement for parents and a great leader for their kids, but never takes the place of parents and home. Get involved in the children’s ministry. Find out what events are happening and be there. Volunteer where they need help with events. Teach Sunday School. Assist with children’s choir or missions events. Many Sunday School classes send leaflets home, so use that each day as a way to reinforce what they learned on Sunday morning throughout the week. There is only a short amount of time to be able to be involved in what kids are doing, so take advantage, especially at church. Consistency counts! Taking the time to invest in their spiritual lives is vital, since what is done for eternity is all that lasts. What a privilege for parents!

PRAY: Paul tells the people in Thessalonica to “pray constantly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The importance of prayers is a theme throughout the Bible from the Old Testament to the New Testament. The prayers of parents for their children are powerful. Parents can be praying for their children for their children to know God and for their lives to be transformed by the power of Jesus Christ. Modeling prayer is important for their children as well. Take time before heading out the door for the day to pray around the breakfast table. Toddlers can pray too. Parents can help the little ones learning to talk learn simple prayers, while older children can learn how to pray for others and that God cares about all that goes on in their lives from “little” to “big.” Maybe they are praying for a sick family member or praying for God to send them a friend at school. Pray before bedtime. Keep a list of prayer requests on the refrigerator to remember what to pray for. Children can see how God answers prayer in each situation. Modeling daily prayer shows the importance of it and teaches them to look beyond themselves and care for others.

I hope this helps those who have little ones and can serve as a source of encouragement! I'll include the rest of this article next time! Have a great day!



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