Every Thursday my husband says to the kids, “Guess what day it is?”
The kids reply, “Thursday!”
“And what does that mean?”
We just recently began this practice, and it has given my children amazing bible literacy, an excitement for learning about God, and a desire for worship. We’ve seen them reading their bibles at their leisure; we hear them singing worship alone in their bedrooms. I am so grateful that we’ve put it in place, but we haven’t always had this, and it’s never too late to start.
“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.” Deuteronomy 6:5-7
This verse in Deuteronomy is a summary of God’s call for us as parents, and we have done our best to heed this call in our family. The following are four simple practices we have instituted in our home to emphasize God’s presence in our lives, and to disciple our children.
DAILY QUIET TIME
Just in the past couple years my husband and I have made a strong and conscious effort to spend time with God daily in the morning. It is not always easy, not always perfect, and dare I say it, not always a revelation. However, it is always good, and always worth it. And one great benefit that I had not anticipated was the effect it would have on my kids. We had to establish some rules in our home to make our quiet times possible; because of these boundaries the kids know that God is number one in this house, even over and above them. Gasp! I said it: my kids are not more important than God. If my kids learn nothing at all from me, I would love for them to learn that God needs to be number one in their lives. Above all else, they need to seek God, and by seeking him, they will find him.
We do not allow our kids to leave their bedrooms until 7am. Even my three year old son, (who we recently moved to a big boy bed) knows the rule. It was not an easy boundary to set, but once it was in place, it made our mornings so much easier. The kids wake up earlier than 7am (of course), but they just play in their rooms, get dressed, or read until 7am. It allows my husband and I to spend time with God, and maybe even get in a workout. Our kids see that the first thing we do in the morning is go to God, and if nothing else, that is something I want them to take with them away from our home.
WEEKLY FAMILY WORSHIP
Another way we have reinforced this God first mentality is by having a weekly Family Worship time. In the spring of this year, my husband and I lead a small group video series based on the book Visionary Parenting by Rob and Amy Rienow. The book focused on having a godly vision for your family and having a plan to enforce that vision with your kids. We thoroughly enjoyed it, and the biggest thing we took from the study was the family worship time. We do our family worship time on Thursdays and the kids look forward to it all week. It is far from perfect, and occasionally we skip a week or move the day, but we do our best to learn about God together. Our kids are learning a crazy amount even from the couple months we have done family worship. A month ago we bought the book by the Rienows: Genesis .It has been a great resource for us because we can pick it up five minutes before we start, gather simple materials, and have a great lesson for the kids and for us.
Besides family worship, we make our community and meeting together a priority in our house. We do not miss church, or bible study, or other fellowship for no good reason. We will obviously miss it if we are ill, but other things do not take precedent over our church time. When I was growing up we had a very similar rule in our house, and it took the choice of going to church completely out of my brain. We didn’t have a choice; we go because it’s how we grow. We go because it’s community, it’s commitment, it’s corporate worship, it’s consistency. Our commitment to church-going has nothing to do with checking a box, and everything to do with showing God that we love him, and we want to be with him. It is a commitment to a community that reaches out, and takes care of people. By engaging with this community, we are showing our kids a way to serve Him.
We serve Him and others with our kids. We sign up for the meal plans, we bring cookies to the neighbors, we watch our friends’ kids when they have appointments. I serve in the youth group, and though they are sad that I’m gone at bedtime every Sunday, they know I’m going to serve God. We give money to the church, and make sure our kids know about it. This holiday season we let the kids help us choose where our giving money would go. We chose some special funds in our church’s mission-minded series, and we let the kids help us choose. They see us serve God with our money, our time, and our resources and they are excited about it, too. Their first inclination when someone is hurting is to help, and I am incredibly proud and excited about God’s hand in that instinctual behavior from them.
If we, as their parents, don’t show them the way of the Lord, who will? We are with our children more than any other person in their lives, and we have the most opportunity to share with them how to walk with God. We can’t depend on the church who sees them at most a few hours a week. We can’t depend on their friends, or youth ministers, or Sunday School. The burden falls on us, and what a heavenly burden to bear. And by heavenly I mean that we get to walk with and beside our kids into salvation. How many of us can say that we’ve walked with a person from the beginning to the end of their story? We get to do that with our kids, and more than that, God calls us to do that for our kids. Try implementing one or more of these things in your home, and just see the difference it makes in your kids; it’s never too late to start, so how about you start today?