Here are some things that I have found helpful in carrying out that incredibly important task.
1. Family Devotions/Worship Time
It is my conviction that families should try to have a scheduled time each day to sit down, read and discuss the scriptures, and to pray and praise the Lord. This will look different for each family. In our house, we do catechism questions1 with the girls during dessert. Before bed we read an account from the scriptures or learn about one of God's attributes.2 Lastly, we end our devotional time praying for others. Further, I sometimes lead the family in praise on my guitar.
2. Stop sharing "stories" with your kids
In my house we don't read Bible "stories." We read Bible accounts. I want to convey to my children that there are good reasons to believe that the events recorded in the Bible actually happened in space and time. The Bible is not full of "stories" in the same way Cinderella is a "story," but gives an accurate account of history. Therefore, I refer to it as such. When my children ask me a Bible question I try to remember to say, "Let's check what the record says."
3. Share what you are learning
As parents we need to be actively learning how to make a case for the Christian faith and then share those arguments and evidences with our family.3 This can happen while driving in the car or over a meal.
4. Learn a new language
In addition to using words like faith and hope with our little ones, it important that when we talk about our Christian convictions, we include words like trust, evidence and logic. Our children need to understand that Christianity is grounded in what is true. Therefore, when discussing our trust in Christ, we should emphasize the importance of sound thinking and reasonable conclusions.
5. Think out loud with your kids
I remember when my 7 year old daughter came to the realization that there are many other so called "gods." I pointed out that there are indeed numerous people who have worshiped all kinds of things as God and I asked her the following question- "If there are so many people worshiping all these other so-called gods, how can we know that our God is the true God?" She thought for a moment and said, "Because our God gave us the Bible!" I thought that was a fairly good answer for a young child. As she gets older, we will talk about other good reasons to hold this conviction.
Challenge your kids with questions and think out loud with them regarding the answer. If you don't know the answer, research it with them!
6. Teach Your Kids to Seek Answers to Their Questions
My daughters often ask me questions about the Christian faith or the existence of God and I'll freely admit that sometimes I don't know the answer. When this happens, I will answer the question to the best of my ability and then let them know that I am going to look into it for them. Then, I research the question and share the answer I found with them. In doing so, it is my goal to not only provide them with an answer to their question, but also to model a diligent search for truth. As my children grow older, my goal is to research answers to their questions with them so that they may ultimately learn to be independent seekers of truth.
7. Model Self-Control in Conflict Resolution
As the father of two young ladies, drama is in no short supply in the Gross household! However, my girls know that my wife and I will not help them resolve a conflict or have a discussion with them until they have calmed down and are able to speak to us calmly. Further, when we are having a disagreement with them, we both try to remain calm and offer reasonable grounds for the decisions we have made. This hopefully models for them how to engage in not only sound conflict resolution, but will also transfer into their Christian defense as they get older.
8. Dialogue with your Kids
My daughter and I were in a store awhile ago and she pointed out a Barbie doll that caught her eye and she said, "That Barbie is not dressed appropriately." I continued by asking her why the outfit was inappropriate. She said, "Because her belly is showing." I said, "What is wrong with that?" She said that was only for God to see! Ha! We discussed the importance of dressing modestly and moved on. But here is the point: I realized she said that because her mom and I have taught her what is appropriate for ladies to wear and what is not; however, I want her to understand why we hold these convictions. Otherwise, she is merely parroting what we are saying and ultimately that is not going to teach her to own her worldview. I don't want to just pass my faith on to my kids. My goal is to equip them with the tools necessary for them to evaluate Christianity objectively. Then, by the grace of God, they will understand that it is evidentially true. Then, they will hopefully feel compelled to live it out!
What about you? What do you do with your own family? Please share in the comments!
Courage and Godspeed,
1. We use Big Truths for Little Kids: Teaching Your Children to Live for God by Susan Hunt and Richie Hunt.
2. We use William Lane Craig's excellent children's book series What is God Like? to discuss God's attributes.
3. If you are just beginning to learn the arguments and evidences I recommend William Lane Craig's On Guard, J. Warner Wallace's Cold-Case Christianity and Greg Koukl's Tactics.
Apologetics Books for Elementary Age Children to Read
Truthbomb's Top 10 Books Every Christian Parent Should Read
Video: How Do You Do Family Worship? by Donald Whitney