The weeks following our Easter celebrations are a great time to talk about Jesus!
In the readings over these Sundays, we hear about Jesus’ encounters with his disciples. They are unsure about what happened during Jesus’ death and resurrection. Some even doubt that he has risen from the dead. Lucky for the disciples, Jesus appears to them and helps them understand what has happened. It is important to talk to our children about the questions and even doubts they may have connected to the Easter story. It’s such great news for us, but it’s also unprecedented and earth-shattering, so sometimes, it might be hard to believe. We don’t need to have all the answers, but simply listening and sharing our own stories can help.
Passing on the faith and sharing our stories with children is an important part of their holistic faith formation. When children hear their parents or other adults speak about what Jesus means to them, it provides great encouragement and gives young people real-life examples of what a living, mature faith life looks like. However, talking about our faith and what it means to us requires encouragement and practice, as many of us feel ill-equipped to do this.
It is sometimes difficult to know where to start, especially with older children, as faith conversations don’t always come naturally. Here are some tips to help you get started.
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 6:6–8).
Family time – Time is one of our most precious commodities. How often do you hear people say that they don’t have space to spend time together as a family because life is so busy? So, when is the best time to talk about our faith? The answer is in the Bible verse above – any time is the right time!
When faith is nurtured in the home through the sharing of God’s word and action, children will clearly see how they are part of God’s family. Family life sees parents and children not only sharing their joys, but also the cries of their hearts and the struggles they are facing. In doing this families will discover God’s grace and how God is with them always (Grow Ministries’ Guiding Principle #3).
Car time – Parents often feel like they are always in the car driving their children from place to place. However, the car is a great place for a conversation – you have a captive audience. Try turning the radio off, removing technology, and spending the journey sharing the highs and lows of the day. Take a moment to pray for the event you are heading to or coming from.
Bedtime – Bedtime is the perfect time to share things that have happened during the day. Ask questions about your children’s friends and what they’ve been doing. With teenagers, you can ask what their tomorrow looks like. Is there anything coming up they are looking forward to or feeling worried about? Is there anything you can pray for?
Mealtime – Take a moment to give God thanks and praise before eating, whether at breakfast or dinner time. This is a great place to start with connecting faith with daily life. Mealtimes are also a great time to share highs and lows. It’s often the only time the whole family is together, especially if you have teenagers or children who are busy with sport or other activities. Make the most of this time and share together. Maybe you could use this time to have a regular family devotion.
Holidays – Holidays give families an opportunity to intentionally spend time together. Dedicate some time to reading a family devotion, praying, listening, and singing to worship music. Intentionally put ‘God-time’ into the holiday. Take turns sharing things you are grateful for during the holiday. Share something you are looking forward to when you get home.
One-on-one time – Establishing the ritual of one-on-one time with each of your children will deepen your relationship immensely and provide an opportunity to share your faith. Make time for a weekly or monthly ‘date’ when you plan a special event, like seeing a movie together. This is a great ritual to continue even when they have moved out of home!
A fun resource to encourage conversations
It is vital that congregations support, encourage and equip families, and in particular parents, to nurture the faith of their children. If we want Christian children and young people, we need practising Christian adults who know and understand the importance of sharing their faith.
If you are a parent or congregation leader and feel like you need some help, Grow Ministries has developed a set of cards that can be used as a tool to encourage meaningful faith conversations. We have two versions, one for primary-age children and the other for adults and teenagers. They are divided into different categories and are a great way to facilitate meaningful conversations.
Jodi Brook is director of Grow Ministries. For more articles about growing faith in families and across generations, visit the Grow Ministries blog at www.growministries.org.au/online-journal