Discipling Young Children
As a parent, we have to be the primary discipler of our children. But how? Here are a few simple steps for parents of young children to make disciples at home.
1. Pray together. It’s not enough to tell your children to pray or even to listen to their prayers. You should model prayer. You should resort to prayer often. As Jesus taught His disciples to pray, you should teach yours. Mealtime prayers and bedtime prayers should be routine at your home. Memorized prayers (“God is great, God is good”) are a fine start, but children need more than rote actions. Encourage them to add their own ideas. How do you do this? By adding on to prayers yourself. “Lord, help Paxton to make a new friend at school.” “Lord, thank You that we could go to the zoo today.” You don’t have to make it fancy. Just show your child that Jesus cares about the things you care about. Perhaps you can teach your children to pray whenever they hear the siren of an ambulance or fire truck. “Someone needs help, so let’s ask Jesus to help that person.” Another idea is to pray for pastors when you drive past a church building. Pray for schoolteachers and students when you drive past a school or for nurses as you pass a hospital. Build prayer into daily activities. Consider praying at the front door with your children as you wait for the school bus. Pray for their tests, their friends, their fears, and their decisions that day. Adopt a missionary to pray for as a family. Select missionary kids who are the same age as your children. Keep a family prayer list. Seeing the requests on one side of the page and God’s answers on the other will build confidence in the God who hears and answers our prayers.
2. Read God’s Word Together. A good Bible story book for young children—a big one that includes all those great Old Testament stories—is a great purchase. The best way to regularly read Scripture is to link it with other routine activities—bedtime or breakfast or the dinner table. As children grow older, read the Scripture text together and ask them questions about it.
3. Memorize Scripture. Find an empty wall and hang a poster with a verse to review. You may use a mirror or a wall in the bathroom. Again, work on verses as you waited for the bus or in the car on the way to run errands. Parents and children can learn together. What a gift to help your children hide verses of comfort and encouragement in their hearts. They will stick!
4. Sing together. Learn hymns and worship songs and choruses. Many are packed with theology, and something about music imprints truth deeply. Play those songs in the car, or turn off the television and play them while you eat dinner. Play or sing them as lullabies.
5. Go to church together. As wonderful as children’s church is, the opportunity to sit with Mom and Dad while they sing and listen and participate in church ought to be part of the heritage of every Christian family. You can choose to worship as a family, at least from time to time.
6. Be a disciple. The best way for children to learn to love and follow Jesus is to live with people who do. Your relationship with Jesus will be contagious. Your faith is be the best thing your children could ever learn from you.
*From D6 Family Kids Toolbox Topics