My oldest volunteering in a Bible play at our church's summer program
If you are a Christian mom, praying for your kids' salvation is probably in your prayers continually. As we wait on God to sovereignly soften hearts as He wills to repentance for sin and faith in Christ, we can do our Biblical role as moms. The Bible tells us to discipline our children and to teach them God's Word. (Proverbs 13:24 "Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him" and Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.")
Besides literally disciplining our children when they misbehave and reading the Bible with our kids, there are creative ways to infuse scripture and Christian disciplines into their lives when they are young. Most of these suggestions I will be listing are methods and not Biblical mandates like the two directives I listed above (although a few, like attending church, are commanded). I hope some of these ideas spark some great conversations and habits in your little ones' lives.
1. Post scripture everywhere in their environment
When I went through teacher training, one of the most important things they mentioned in an elementary classroom was to have a print rich environment so the children are constantly reading and exposed to print. We, as Christian moms, can use this idea to have a Bible rich environment. When I write a note on his lunch napkin, I can encourage him with scripture. When I leave him a note on his pillow, I can write some scripture. I have scripture signs on our walls and scripture on post its on mirrors and the car. Help him see God's Word written everywhere and let them know it is important to you!
Here is the home screen on my iphone. I use the app called Fighter Verses to memorize and meditate on scripture.
2. Play worship music in the car
When I was young, my parents listened to easy listening music every Saturday. It blasted throughout the house as my mom ironed and cleaned. To this day, I still know all the Karen Carpenter songs and can belt out "Blue Bayou" with Linda Ronstadt. The music we play can guide our children's thoughts and habits. Instead of listening to a talk show or pop hits, turn on worship music. We love Rob Biagi and Seeds Family Worship music in our family. Seeds is Bible verses set to song, so the kids are memorizing the Bible as they sing. If I play these in the car on the way to drop them off at school, they are starting their day singing praises to God.
3. Say forgive me to your children
Though God puts parents in charge of their kids, He also desires humility in His followers. You can represent the gospel well when you identify yourself as a sinner who needs God's forgiveness. When you lose your temper or make a mistake, tell your kids "Please forgive me for _________." Reconcile with them and then pray together. Thank God for Jesus and the fact that His death on the cross paid the penalty for our mistakes and sin. Perhaps your model of humility will more easily help your child die to his or herself, recognize his own need for a Savior, and follow Christ someday.
4. Pray out loud in conversational prayer
There are two types of prayer--conversational and concentrated. Conversational prayer comes pretty easily. This is prayer when we are just going about our day and we blurt out little prayers here and there--praising God for the pretty flowers or asking him to help us get to the meeting on time as we drive through traffic. As I go about my day with my kids in the car, I like to pray out loud so they hear me. "Thank you, God, for getting us out the door on time." "Thank you, God, for such a beautiful day." "Lord, help me to not be nervous about such-and-such today." "Lord, so and so is just starting surgery today. Please be with them and give them peace and endurance." "Lord, please pray for whoever that ambulance is going to help. Give them peace and kind words coming to them. Please help them know you or help this bring them to you." You get the idea. They are listening to you talk to God all day. You are showing them your relationship with and dependence on God.
5. Thank God out loud for blessings
We have a thankful list in my house that sits on the counter. We fill it out all week and read over our thanks in extended Bible study each week. It is SO easy to go about your week and not thank God for big and small blessings He puts in our lives. It is important to model thanksgiving to our children. Thank God out loud when your child starts to feel better, when you get that nice parking spot, when you don't get into that close accident, when something you are buying is on sale, when they win the game, when they get an A on a test, when a friend gets to come over and play, etc. Pepper your day with thanksgiving for all the blessings and model James 1:17 to your child, so they know every good and perfect gift is from Him.
This is written in our entry way.
I did a post on a Thanksgiving fall activity here.
6. Serve at church and get them to start serving with you
My parents often served at church when I was little. Whether it was in a Sunday school classroom or hosting a small group, they always wanted to be doing something at church. It probably is one reason I so easily stepped up to co-lead a ministry with my spouse. This isn't the norm. Most church members begrudgingly offer up time and energy. They say about 20% of the church body is doing the work that needs to be done. God asks us to serve our church body, such as in I Peter 4:10, "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace." As soon as you can, have your children make this a part of their lives. Have them help in a Sunday school class. Offer to stuff bulletins with them. Find ways to make serving their church family a natural part of their schedules.
7. Attend church regularly and have a church family
Going to church won't make someone a Christian, but having knowledge of scripture and God is important in training them and growing them in the knowledge of God. You are also helping your child to foster relationships with other Christian families. Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us, "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." You need to be at church regularly and, while your son or daughter is in your home, make it a rule that they attend with you.
Here we are at a ministry fall kickoff event, and my oldest (in blue) is playing with one of his buddies from church.
8. Serve others. Have an others' first attitude.
We are wired to think of ourselves first. It only takes having a newborn or toddler to realize this is fact. "Mine!" "I don't want to!" etc. are the lovely first stands we take as human beings. We are wired to stand up for ourselves. We have to develop empathy and a Philippians 2 attitude in our kids. Make sure you are serving at church, and then look at your community and see what you can do to serve others. Make meals for neighbors and have your child help you cook and deliver the meal. Explain how this is helping the family. Visit a senior care facility and bring flowers or blankets. Teach them that each soul is precious to God. Forgive others quickly and tell your children WHY you forgive--another great lesson in the gospel. Bring service and volunteering to scripture always--what Jesus did for us and what he expects of those who love Him and follow Him. This is also a great opportunity to look for ways to share the gospel with others while your kids are with you. Invite people to church as you bring the meal, tell people about the comfort found in Christ Jesus as you lay that blanket over their lap. Philippians 2:3-4 "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."
In the interest of not overwhelming you with a lengthy post, I'll be posting the second half of this entry (9 more ideas) in a couple of days--part 2. Feel free to add your own ideas and what works in your family! Pray over what ideas might work or be implemented in your home!