After serving in both the children and youth ministries at MCC for several years and teaching at two different Christian schools, I longed for the day to be able to start teaching my own children about Christ. I couldn’t wait to read Bible stories, sing Christian songs, pray with my kids, and just talk about God in the midst of everyday life.
But I have to admit something…I haven’t lived this out the way I thought I would with my toddler. Sure we have always prayed with Claire before (most) meals, bed, and random times in between. Yes, Ryan and I read a short story from one of her many children’s Bibles almostevery night. And we do sing Christian songs and talk about God throughout some days. But we aren’t being as intentional as we could be. We’ve fallen into the trap thinking she won’t understand much now so we’ll be intentional later. Anyone else believe that lie?
We want to disciple our children more than just talking about God a little here and there. We want to go deeper. We want our children to not only see us live out the gospel but to LEARN about it from us. Even though our firstborn is only 16 months old and our second child is still growing in the womb, my husband and I knew it would benefit all of us to begin a formal family devotional time.
Pastor Shawn directed us to use the “The Big Picture Story Bible,” which is a suggested resource for stage 1 in the Family Disciple Making Plan. This beautiful Bible truly shows “the big picture” of each story and actually connects the stories together. It also has a Family Devotional book filled with questions about the stories, more Bible verses, and has reflection questions to help our children connect and apply the story to their own lives!
We were hesitant to start it because we knew our wiggly, independent child would want to be leading it herself. And while she understands way more than we give her credit for, she still isn’t able to answer the reflection questions. But the great thing about starting early is that it is building the habit for ALL OF US to sit and learn together. It’s building the habit for us to set apart times each week that are for the sole purpose of digging into God’s Word. This has been different than just reading a quick bedtime Bible story because we make sure we are all together and we take our time.
It may be hard at times to get our daughter to stay in that one book without grabbing for another, but it is building the habit for her to stay focused during Family Devotions all while teaching us parents to be consistent and intentional. So even if we are just looking through the book with Claire for a few minutes or asking our own made-up questions, we are still showing her that our family is a family who sits and talks about God.
I’m so thankful MCC encourages early discipleship with our children. I encourage you to use the resources they’ve provided and ask the pastors any questions you have! Life just gets so busy and if we’re not intentional, we will miss crucial opportunities. By starting early, we’re building a pathway to continue these godly conversations with our children throughout their whole lives! Plus, the more we do it, the more we want to do it!
“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise,” (Deuteronomy 6:7).