We love baby steps. Whether it's with something like Dave Ramsey to get out of debt, the three-bite rule (whenever we have something for dinner the kids have to take 3 bites), or exercise programs like Couch to 5K, we try to make things easy for people to follow when they get into something new.
For Christian parents, even though our faith is central to our lives, it can be hard to begin having spiritual conversations in our families. We know we should. We've heard about it. We watch our kids spend their idle time knocking over angry birds or building stuff on Minecraft or whatever Fortnite is. And we know that what matters most is our kids' spiritual health. But how do we take baby steps?
1. Start by asking what they did in church - As easy as a question at lunch or dinner after church. Just ask the kids what they did at church. Talk about the Bible lesson. If they got handouts or take-home materials, walk through them. You can even read the story from the Bible as part of the asking. The joy of curriculum is it's written for comprehension at their age.
2. Bedtime prayer time - Those moments before bed are often the quietest moments with kids, no matter their age. And even if you have older elementary or teenagers, popping in to check on them or tell them goodnight offers a chance to ask them to pray. And in doing so you can pray for them specifically but also find out who they know or other situations to pray about.
3. Roses & Thorns - This is one of our favorites. We use this to talk at dinner about our day and find out what went really well and what didn't. We try to use the language of thorns instead of "what made your day bad?" because we want to frame the discussion so our kids don't fixate on the negative. But by asking them what went well and what didn't about their day can be a nice and easy way to encourage or pray.
4. Grab a Devotional Book - Even if your kids are too young to read on their own, you can still grab helpful devotional books to read along with them. For older kids, the options are almost too many to count. Check out CBD's options here, and Lifeway's here. One we have really enjoyed is a book called The Ology: Ancient Truths, Ever New. Along with that is Indescribable, written by Louie Giglio.
5. Parents, read a good book - I think it's really worthwhile for parents to read something helpful. I'm a fan of Age of Opportunity for parents of teenagers, Paul Tripp on 14 gospel principles for parenting, Give Them Grace, Shepherding a Child's Heart, Instructing a Child's Heart, Grace-Based Parenting, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full, Sticky Faith, Sacred Parenting, and Family Worship.
Remember, these are baby steps. Don't try to tackle everything. Start small. And if it doesn't work out immediately, step back and punt. Remember, doing anything to help shape your family's spiritual health is better than nothing.
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Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.