Someday our children will no longer live life at our elbow. Someday they will be older, no longer guided by our constant commentary, no longer guarded by our wit and wisdom, no longer groomed by our unconditional, intentional love. Someday they will live beyond us.
When that day comes, after all the little years of our leading our children along to know Jesus better and better, we want them to continue on following Him, trusting Him, choosing Him, loving Him back…not because He has become their habit, but because HE has won their hearts!!
So what can we as parents do during the little years to help foster a lasting love relationship between Jesus and our children? How can we help our children develop a lifestyle that allows them to experience the God of the Bible and realize His love for them and the world? How can we show them how to live life on purpose?
Anything of any significance starts with a plan and requires time and energy. We parents are in the BEST position to teach our little ones about Jesus, but with life being as busy as it is, being intentional with this discipleship is key. Taking initiative communicates importance. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated! All we need is a behavior of some kind that we can measure. Also, it doesn’t have to be anything we add to our already busy life. We can just consider what we’re already doing and reorganize it into a predictable routine that highlights Jesus’ way of thinking and living.
In our home, we’ve developed two main elements to the daily spiritual training of our children. The first is Bible study. The second is Bible living. We call our two part plan LEGACY and the idea behind it is simple—God loves the whole world and the world needs to know that! Those of us who are blessed to already know God’s love can help tell others who don’t! When we realize what a big deal we are to Jesus, it changes us. Then Jesus can use us to show others what a big deal they are to Him!
For Bible study time, we are coloring through the Bible chronologically and watching a series of Bible survey DVDs. It’s been exciting to see our children begin to connect the dots between man’s sin and God’s salvation. It’s personal and powerful! Here are our resources…
For Bible living time, we’ve assigned a theme and a simple activity to each day of the week. This allows us to engage regularly in some of the things that Jesus said are most important. Prep is minimal (looking up an address, checking out a video, etc). and the activities can be done on-the-go. In the way of journaling, each of us keeps a Legacy notebook. Each day we make a quick note about that day’s activity and store it in that day’s section of the notebook. Here’s how a week looks…
Circle Up Sunday
Focus: corporate worship
Action: Plain and simple, we go to church! Then afterwards we talk about it as a family to hear what each person learned/enjoyed/struggled with/has questions about, etc.
Focus: missions, learning about/supporting missions and missionaries
Action options: Write or send a package to missionaries. Study the places and people groups the missionaries work in/with. Do a job to earn money to send to a mission or to missionaries. Learn about famous missionaries from the past.
Tell the Good News Tuesday
Focus: telling others about Jesus
Action options: Write a letter to a friend sharing a verse that encourages them in their relationship with Him. Deliver cookies to a pastor friend and pray with him. Visit with a grownup who is excited about evangelism to talk about what it’s like for them to share Jesus with others. Write out our own testimonies and practice saying them from memory.
Walk and Pray Wednesday
Focus: intercessory prayer
Action: Walk or drive a specific route while praying over a short list of requests for that area.
Schedule: week 1—our neighborhood, week 2—our church, week 3—our city, week 4—our nation and the world (we use a world map or a globe for this one).
Think About It Thursday
Focus: Scripture meditation and memorization
Action: Write out this week’s memory verses. Illustrate them if you want to. Talk about them. Then post them somewhere where we’ll see them A LOT. (Turns out the wall that faces the toilet is a great place to hang stuff like this! Ha!)
Follow Up Friday
Action: Talk about what we’ve done the past week. Answer two main questions: “What did I learn about man?” and “What did I learn about God?”
Story Time Saturday
Focus: Learn the Bible in story form for easy, engaging retelling.
Action: Memorize a piece of the Bible in simple story form, with a few simple hand gestures and facial expressions. Memorize one story per month.
As Bible study makes the love of God grow inside of us, Bible living gives that love hands and feet. The mindset and heart attitude that LEGACY is developing in our family is something deep and beautiful. As we purposefully spend time with Jesus each day and join Him in the work He’s already doing in the world around us, our children have begun to see themselves and others more like He sees them. Also, they have begun to see their lives much more as His and less as theirs. They have experienced the sweetness of Jesus that comes from knowing and sharing His love, AND they have begun to develop spiritual disciplines at a younger, simpler time in their lives when they are uninhibited and not yet self-conscience.
When the day comes that our children are on their own in the world, we want their years at home with us to stay with them in the best of ways. That is no small feat. When all the highs and lows of these childhood days are summed up, the reality for parents is that living for the someday in the today can be exhausting. And sometimes the today throws a crazy hard punch that knocks the someday right out of our thinking. Nevertheless, for the sake of their souls and the world, we are driven to take hold of every moment to show our little ones Jesus. Be it through life or love, family or failure, creation or the cross, the Truth we teach our children about Jesus will NEVER be lost on them. The opportunities we give them to experience Him when they are little will begin to settle Him in their hearts as the one and only God of the Universe and the most sincere, most faithful lover of their souls! The Truth of His Love will be the thing that captivates them, settles them, guides them, holds them, and empowers them when they move on from us. We’re not preparing our children to someday just survive the world. Nor are we preparing them to just impress it.
We’re preparing them to change it.
*What are some ways you are seeking to practically disciple your children as you go about your days? Please leave your comments below!