4 simple steps to sharing Jesus’ love with little ones
I’m pleased to welcome Teri McKinley, author of many amazing Christian books for children, to the blog today! Let’s listen to her heart about sharing Jesus’ love with her young son.
When my son was only a few months old, I sat in the dim light of the nursery rocking him at bedtime. As I soaked in the snuggles of that quiet moment, I felt a strong urgency to tell him something I hadn’t told him yet. There, in his bedroom as he drifted off to sleep, I told my son the story of the gospel for the first time. While I knew he was too young to understand exactly what I was telling him, I also knew it was my responsibility—and privilege—to teach him the truth about who Jesus is and what He has done for all of us. I wanted to be able to say no matter what happened, “I have shared the gospel with my son; I have made sure he has heard it.” And that has continued to be my heart in the few short years since that sleepy evening. I have been reminded again and again that my number one job as a parent is to teach my children the Word of God.The mission of teaching the Bible to our kids can sound very daunting, especially in the midst of washing dishes, folding laundry, balancing work, and keeping them from jumping off the kitchen table. But in the moments when I feel like I need a theology degree to be a good mom, I’m reminded of Deuteronomy 6:6-9: And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (NLT) Instilling biblical truth into the next generation doesn’t have to be complicated; God simply tells us to make it a part of our everyday lives.
If you’re not sure what that looks like practically, let me give you some examples that we use in our own family.
4 ways to share the gospel with your young child
1. Have natural, daily conversations about God
As a writer, you can imagine that I have a lot to say…so the first thing I make sure to do is talk to my son about the Bible and Christian concepts regularly. It can be very simple to tie in if you pay attention to what is going on around you throughout the day. For example, when my husband takes out the trash or moves heavy boxes, I tell my almost three-year-old that Daddy is being a servant. I say things like, “Being a servant means putting others before ourselves and looking for ways to help them. That’s what Jesus did and that’s what He wants us to do too.” Even the sweetest, most basic moments provide opportunity for us to pour the Word over our children. Last week as my son played outside, he saw a hard-shelled species of bug he had never seen before. He pointed excitedly and asked me to come look at it with him. I shared in his excitement and said, “Wow, bud! How cool is that bug? Do you know who made that bug? God did! Isn’t that so cool that God can make tiny bugs like this and big things like mountains, too?” My son nodded his head and went on playing. I have found that as I speak about these things more and more, they become a natural part of our daily conversations.
2. Read the Bible daily.
In addition to conversations about the Bible, we make it a point to read portions of the Bible to our son every day.I had the honor of writing two devotional books for kids with Our Daily Bread before my son was even born. To say I was excited to read them to him is an understatement! We started reading one devotional a night while he was still an infant and it became a habit. As his sleep patterns and bedtime routine have continued to change, we have incorporated lots of other resources as well. His current favorite Bible story book is The Beginner’s Bible and we read at least two stories a night from this book. It has helped him learn the names of biblical figures and also made him familiar with many key stories in the Bible. He now talks to us about the sneaky snake in the garden and pretends he’s fighting Goliath with his toy sword and shield. My advice is to keep it simple in picking out what you read to your children. There are many board books, bedtime devotionals, picture books, and other resources that are geared toward specific ages and stages of spiritual development. Find the things that work best for your child’s attention span, interests, and comprehension. And don’t be afraid to repeat the same stories over and over. That’s how they will begin to hide God’s Word in their hearts!
3. Give them an environment that grows their faith.
The last way we strive to teach our children the Bible is through what they hear and see in their environment.My husband plays in the worship band at our church, so Christian music is a central part of our daily life. There are many great worship songs for kids that you can download or even stream online. In addition to those we also let our son listen to Christian praise music on the radio. There is no greater joy than hearing your son sing “The Lion and the Lamb” in his car seat on the way to grocery store! Our son has a special interest in music and instruments, so we allow him to attend the praise and worship portion of our church service before taking him to his class. We sing a Christ-centered song with him every night before he goes to bed. We also have artistic Bible verses hung around our house in several places. The most special one is a Bible verse we chose when we dedicated our son as an infant. A friend painted it beautifully on a wood palette and it hangs in his room as he plays, sleeps, and sings. I pray this verse over him every night after he falls asleep.
No matter what methods you choose to teach your kids the Bible, I pray you are reminded of God’s grace and presence in your mission. The Holy Spirit will help you and speak through you as you engage your children.So whether you sing “Jesus Loves Me” in the bathtub, or speak the story of salvation over your infant in a rocking chair, know that the Lord is using every moment of your ministry as a parent.
Check out Teri’s books!
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