One of my favourite memories from childhood is watching movies with my uncles that my own parents didn’t approve of, Star Wars and Flight of the Navigator. Most of it went over my head, but I laughed when my uncles did, and still to this day I love those movies due to their early influence.
As a Christian, I want to be a godly influence on my children and the children around me at church. Yet the world seems to be louder than ever with the internet, smart phones and a host of TV channels; creating unlimited opportunities for children to hear the many voices of the world, be it advice, entertainment or education.
How can we help children to grow up loving Jesus more than the world? We can by trusting in God’s grace and providing opportunities for children to develop a biblical worldview. Here are a few suggestions:
Read the Bible together
Whether you’re a parent, family member or beloved family friend, reading God’s Word provides opportunities to discuss with children how it changes the way we see the world around us. Simple ideas to do this include sharing what you’ve been reading lately, learning a memory verse together, or reading a chapter of the Bible together after dinner.
When doing this, it’s important to help children connect the dots so they can understand what they are reading. Doing this helps them to see how knowing God transforms our understanding of everything. This will help them to learn how to faithfully apply biblical wisdom to their lives.
There are parts of the Bible where this will be a simple process, such as in Ephesians when Paul tells us not to let any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths (Eph 4:29). There are other parts where it’s harder to draw comparisons between our lives and ‘heroes of faith’, like Moses or David. Often these parts of the Bible can show us more of God’s character; therefore a good question to ask is ‘What do we learn about God in this story?’ For example, a lesson from Joseph’s story in Genesis 37-50 is that God is always in control and caring for his people even when appearances suggest otherwise, so it is best to keep trusting him. Children can understand this and will continue to listen when you share a time in your life when you were reminded of the same thing. Although it can be difficult, it’s worth persevering in keeping the Bible open!
Watch TV together
This might be an unexpected suggestion, and I am not advocating that families watch more TV together. Already our children are exposed to much more than we can control from the time they go to school, but watching TV together and talking about what is happening is one way to guide children’s understanding of the world. By doing this you can discuss what you think about a character’s choices, asking children what they might have done differently. Or you can ask what a character might be feeling, or ask them to name their own feelings as they react to the storyline. This can lead to a discussion about why you might agree or disagree as a Christian with the words or actions of a character. If you can, link this with something you’ve read together in the Bible, helping children to view and respond to the world as one who knows and trusts God.
Invite other Christians to share stories
Invite others Christians to share stories, ideas, and habits for growing. As the saying goes, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’, and Christians are blessed with a community that’s even better than a village: the family of God. Ask the older people you know how they read the Bible with their children, or how they read it now and their favourite verses. Ask younger people what Christian music they are enjoying or what apps they’ve found helpful. Ask leaders which books or podcasts they might recommend. Ask parents what habits of family life they’ve tried and tested. A good time to ask these questions is over a meal at home or a picnic, with a board game or card game or something else fun. Even though our children will be exposed to the messages that knock the truth of God’s Word, real testimony has a greater impact.
Seeing God’s love in action amongst his people is powerful evidence of the truth of the gospel. Hearing stories of how knowing Jesus gives meaning and purpose to life no matter our age or ethnicity or marital status can have a lasting influence on young minds. Most of all, we have the words of eternal life to share with our children, so let’s make sure we are making time for Jesus. He’s even better than Star Wars.