As adults, we all know a thing or two about having busy lives full of distractions—distractions that sometimes make it hard to stay focused on what is most important. But, serving with kids can be very humbling. They so naturally ask questions that get right to the heart of a matter. Sadly, it seems that we lose a bit of that inclination as we get older. We have so many responsibilities that the most important thing—loving God with all that we are—can get out of focus. So how can we parent children to maintain that focus on God even as they mature and grow into adulthood?
So much of parenting children to grow in the Lord can be summed up in Deuteronomy 6:5-7 which says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” In other words, we must first love God with everything we have, and then we must demonstrate to the next generation how to do the same.
In recent research done in Jana Magruder’s book, Nothing Less, interviewees were asked what makes the biggest impact on a child’s spiritual development. With young people leaving the church at such a staggering rate as they graduate from high school, this research feels more critical than ever.
So, what were the top three influencers on a child’s spiritual development? Regularly reading the Bible, spending time in prayer, and serving in church growing up. Here are a few practical ways to help your child grow these patterns:
- Do your Bible reading in an open area in your house. When your kids see you at the kitchen table reading your Bible or completing a Bible study, tell them about what you’re studying. You have a great opportunity and a great responsibility to share your faith with your children. The more you involve your children with your personal faith, the more they can take ownership of their own faith. Kids love how they are loved, teach how they are taught, and they will follow in your footsteps as they see how you study the Bible.
- Start a family devotional time at night or pray regularly as a family. Creating habits of Bible reading and prayer as a family can help your children grow a love of God’s Word and a desire to read their Bible on their own.
- Choose a time to serve in your church or community as a family. This can be such a fun hands-on way to get your kids involved in loving others through their actions. It will also open up so many opportunities for conversations on why we sacrifice and serve others with our time and resources. You might be surprised by the creative ideas your kids come up with to serve others as well!
In addition to the ideas above, taking time away from our daily lives and rhythms can also be a helpful way to reset focus for adults and children alike. Retreats, getaways, and camps are vital to enriching the faith of believers. CentriKid camps are a place for 3rd-6th graders to get away from expectations and distractions to focus on God. CentriKid staff love having intentional conversations with kids about what is going on in their lives and how God’s Word is relevant to their lives. It is important for both kids and adults to step out of the daily grind to focus on the most important things—His Word, prayer, and service to His Kingdom.
And finally, let’s not forget that these influencers of spiritual growth are not just for parents to keep in mind; these are things that we as Christians should focus on every day. We were put on this planet to glorify God. To keep our focus on Him, we need to come to Christ like children. So as we seek to engage with and teach children how to put Bible reading, prayer, and service into action, we may be surprised how much we’ll learn from them!
Tiffany Francis lives in Nashville and works with CentriKid camps and has a passion for sharing the gospel with kids at camp. We hope that every kid that comes to camp will have a life-changing encounter with Christ.