Pastor Schmidt shared with us an article in his April newsletter, where he discussed the 4th commandment and the relationship between parents and children. He said that he would include tips in his May newsletter regarding sharing your faith with your children, and that is found here.
The last point is a great idea for pastors out there .. get the parents involved in catechism or other youth training!
Words speak volumes. You can do all the actions you want, but if words do not follow to explain the what and why of your actions, they occur in a deafening silence.
With that in mind, it is especially important to use words in communicating the Gospel and the Christian life to your children. Children learn by seeing, hearing and doing; they will copy your actions for the better or for the worse. But in order to take those actions beyond just being a good neighbor, and to turn it into a part of a lifelong Christian life, words explaining what you are doing and why you are doing it, need to follow.
How do you start these conversations? Where do you start these conversations? Here are some helpful hints to get you started.
- Start with Sunday morning worship. When seventh and eighth graders take notes on the sermon, there is a line on the bottom that asks if they have any questions or comments on the sermon or the service. The goal is to get any questions that they have in the moment, rather than hoping that they, or I, remember them until class on Wednesday. On the way home from church, ask your children if they have any questions or comments on the service; ask specific questions about the hymns, readings, or sermon. Share your own thoughts on the service. Remember that this is about building up the faith of each other, not tearing down someone else.
- Follow the same pattern when it comes to Sunday school. Ask your children what they learned in Sunday school, or midweek, or VBS. Share with them what you learned in the adult Sunday school class. As an aside, it is best to do these conversations individually, or as a family to start, and when a comfort level has been reached, expand to include others.
- Avoid questions that start with ‘why’ or require an answer of ‘yes’ or ‘no’. These do not stimulate further conversation; in fact, they squash the conversation from the start. Instead, ask questions that require some thought and longer answers. The best way to get someone else to share more is if you share more yourself, start your conversation with a phrase such as ‘I really liked that first hymn because…which hymn did you like?’
- During your family devotions, or perhaps during meal time, ask your children how they saw God at work in the world that day, both through themselves and through others. Remember to share your own observations as well.
- Prayer requests are a powerful way to share one’s faith. Share with your children some of the things that you pray about, such as them, and ask if they have any special requests that you can pray for; ask them to pray for you as well. Praying together is also a way to teach children the importance of prayer.
- Help is on the way! Starting this month with Youth Group, and in the Fall with Midweek, I will be sending out an email after each meeting on what was covered either in class or for the topic. The email will include a summary of what was covered, as well as some questions that can be used to start conversations at home.
I hope these ideas help you in your conversations, and pray that you have some wonderful discussions about the words and actions that are so much a part of your everyday life.
Peace Lutheran Church