I remember when our first born placed his trust in Christ. Our son, James, acknowledged his sinful nature, asked God for forgiveness, and confessed Jesus Christ to be the one true God who died for him on the cross and was resurrected (Romans 10:9). Heavy stuff.
Without question, this was accomplished by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8). But salvation for young children is a strange and foreign concept for me. I cannot relate to it in my own experience nor can I think of anyone I knew growing up who had experienced it.
So how do we encourage a biblical worldview in our children? Let me share a few ideas we have used to create a consistent atmosphere of Christianity in our home.
Read the Bible
Do it often and a lot. Read it by yourself, in front of your children, and to your children. Living a consistent Christian worldview only comes from knowing what Christian living is in the first place. And short of handing out copies of the Didache, the bible is the only and best way of doing that (1 Timothy 3:16-17). For us, the simplest way to implement Bible reading is through dinner devotions. We simply read through a book of the bible, typically one chapter a night, and discuss what we read after. It may take up the rest of dinner or the whole process could be done in three minutes. We don’t want to force anything. We want it to be as natural as the “so how was your day” that comes after devotions.
We also try to encourage devotional reading throughout the day. When James accepted Christ, we went out to celebrate (we celebrate his birth in the flesh every year, why not his rebirth in the Spirit?) with a big dinner and a bible of his own. When my wife does a morning reading from Psalms or Proverbs, she will sometimes read from James’ bible.
For younger kids, I recommend a great book we received when James was born, called Leading Little Ones to God by Marian Schoolland. It is very basic, the reading is quick, and the structure is more of a children’s catechism than a story.
For teens and young adults, I would strongly encourage parents to buy Journibles for themselves and their children to encourage individual thoughtful bible reading. These are inexpensive journals dedicated to one or several books of the bible where you copy out the verses and give some minimal thoughts to the text. I cannot recommend them enough.
Typically, there isn’t a genuine relationship between people who aren’t on speaking terms. If God is real and desires a relationship with you, why wouldn’t you speak to Him? And don’t just pray the same prayer every night. You wouldn’t repeat the same statement to a person standing in front of you every night, would you? Having a simple prayer for your children to memorize is fine, but it cannot stop there. When bad times come, gather the family up and pray for God’s protection or wisdom or healing. When good things happen, praise God and thank Him. Don’t forget that prayer and praise are important in good times and in bad. Teach your kids great historic prayers or work through different doxologies. Make prayer a fluent language in your home.
Every time we are in the car and see an ambulance drive by with their lights on and sirens blaring, we say a prayer right there for whomever that ambulance is meant for.
We always encourage our kids to pray on their own and give them basic guidelines. Once again, nothing fancy, just be thoughtful in your planning and consistent in your practice.
Teach Theology Through Everyday Situations
This step can be easily overdone. Say too much and you may come across as overbearing and monotonous, but it can be done well and in a very natural way. It’s so important to know your children and how they learn for this to be effective. James is a pretty straightforward kid, so I don’t have to get real fancy with him. When we go out to the beach and see the water I say “Hey James, do you see ALL that water out there? God made that.” This leads to a great opportunity for reading Genesis 1:1-10 when we get home.
After poor behavior has been corrected, why not sit down and take a trip through Romans (3:21-25, 6:1-7, 8:12-17). These three passages give a great overview of what Christ’s atonement accomplished and a believer’s relationship to sin.
For older kids, it is a great exercise to examine the content of movies or tv shows they watch. Do this often and it will help them become more aware of the content they are exposed to and hopefully think with a more robust Christian worldview.
Here are some common themes found in entertainment and having a biblical foundation for these things is extremely important.
Friendship: Proverbs 13:20; 18:24; 22:24-25
Lust: Galatians 5:16, Romans 13:14
Greed: Ecclesiastes 5:10, 1 Timothy 6:10
Kindness: Luke 6:35, 1 Peter 3:9
Wisdom: Proverbs 3:13-18, Ecclesiastes 8:1
Revenge: Romans 12:19, James 1:19-20
Choose Conductive Background Noise
This one could get rough, so hang on. Think of the air that is in your home. Imagine that this air is different than the air outside, kind of like when you walk into your home when a scented candle is lit. There is something extra, however small, that just transforms everything. It’s the same for the background noise in your home. What is it in your house? Can I take a guess and say the TV… that’s what it was when I was growing up. Whether we were watching something or not, the TV was on. Hopefully, I’m not the first person to tell you, but what shows up on the TV isn’t always coming from a Christian worldview. In fact, it’s a safer bet that none of it is (Philippians 4:8). But when the TV is on, it sets the tone in that area of the home. Most activities become secondary when TV is on- conversations, music, reading, games, etc.
Can I offer an alternative? SHUT IT OFF. Unplug it. Stick it in a closet. Throw a sheet over it. Stick it in the backyard and teach your oldest how to shoot his first gun. Whatever you need to do. Instead, turn on some music. You would be amazed at the difference in tone your house takes when light Christian or classical music is playing in the background. I use those two genres because they are conducive to a peaceful heart and can honor God without having to worry about what song is coming up next (1 Samuel 16:23).
With those four things, I think you can truly cultivate a thriving Christ-centered culture in your home. It’s the little things that add up and help us daily draw closer to God. These ideas are simple enough to start today.
If I could offer one final suggestion that gets at the core of this list and makes such a massive difference for your children, it is that Fathers MUST be men of God.
Ryan is always on the lookout for a chance to read a good book or see a new movie. He is finishing his Bachelors in Biblical Studies through Moody Bible Institute and plans to move on with a Masters in Theology. Ryan is 30 and has given presentations on Pro-Life apologetics, homosexuality and the Bible, and teaches Church History and Historical Theology at Allendale Baptist Church. Ryan has been married to his wife Stephanie for ten years and they have four children: James, Lael, Lydia, and Isaiah.