By Kris Wolfe

[En español]

I didn’t really grow up in the church, but I didn’t really have an anti-church experience either. In fact, I would say my family had one foot firmly planted on both paths. Imagine how hard it was for us to get anywhere like that.

I was baptized in my mid-twenties. Within a year, I was pregnant with my first child. Perfect timing I thought: I always knew I wanted to have a relationship with Christ before I became a mother. For me, it seemed essential.

I prayed throughout my pregnancy, and once my son was born, I prayed over his crib each night. But eventually life got in the way, and we prayed less. His father and I began to argue more. We had another child a couple of years later; arguing turned to fighting and fighting turned into battle royal. And then we divorced.

Our boys were five and two when the divorce was final. I had already stopped attending church long before this and getting divorced didn’t exactly make me feel more like church material. It was about two-and-a-half years after my divorce before I finally realized what my life was missing. So I bundled up my seven and four-year-olds and off we went to church.

That was the beginning of a real awakening for me, and a source of joy that I had yet to experience. My boys really enjoyed church and seemed to look forward to going. My youngest has a different outlook on life (in general) and a very unique personality. So he turned the worship music portion into his personal concert, and the eight-foot radius around his tiny body into a Jesus-loving mosh pit.

But church wasn’t as comfortable for them as it seemed to be for the kids who had always been there. Just as in any time a child is new to something, it took some adjustment for them to feel like they fit in.

But the reality was that it was an adjustment for me too. I didn’t grow up praying, not even at meals. Bible verses were not framed with doilies and oak. Words like salvation, grace, and even hope were not used in our home. I knew my parents believed in God; they just didn’t express it in a way that reached me.

Nearly eight years have passed since we have become a Christian family. And we have definitely grown a lot over these years and have learned how to grow closer to God, but we are still learning. Here are a few things we have done to help acclimate our children and ourselves to Christian living:

  1. Start praying at meals—For many people, this is the least awkward time to pray or to at least give thanks for our food. After all, who isn’t grateful for a full belly?
  2. Share simple Bible verses—If you don’t know any yet, that’s okay. Do some research online or buy a study Bible (where you can look up terms and cross reference verses). Jot down a few verses, and commit a few to memory.
  3. Enroll the child in a class—Often Sunday school teachers assume that the child already has some knowledge of the stories in the Bible, but this may not be the case. Ask your church if they offer a new believers class for kids (this may be a class they offer to children who are considering Baptism).
  4. Enroll yourself in a class—Many churches offer new believers classes or at least classes that help you understand the mission of the Church (body of Christ’s believers) as a whole, as well as the church (building/congregation) you attend.
  5. Get a children’s Bible–There are many different options for kids from picture Bibles to action Bibles (that read more like a comic book). There are also Bibles they can write or draw in and Bibles that use very plain language. Get each child a Bible that caters to his or her age and personality. If you can’t get a Bible for each person, consider choosing one that is targeted towards the younger end of your children’s ages. Most people, even adults, can appreciate the simplicity of a children’s Bible. There are also several good Bible apps for your phone that are free.
  6. Invite your child to pray—But do not pressure them. A simple, “Would you like to bless our food?” will suffice. If they decline, make it a non-issue and offer to pray instead. If your child agrees, always thank them for praying. Though I tend to avoid saying, “Good job,” simply because I don’t want them to think I am evaluating their abilities. It is good, however to say, “thanks for praying for your classmate; that was thoughtful.”
  7. Pray with your kids privately—Ask them what they are thinking about or concerned about. If you know they are nervous about tryouts for basketball or a play, then go ahead and pray for them. They will love it. Don’t however, use this a an opportunity to preach to them as in, “Dear God, please help Sarah to quit being so annoying at dinner.” Instead address the root problems such as, “Lord, please help Sarah to know how loved and valued she is, and help her to understand her value and impact in our family.” The first deals with her negative behavior while the latter helps her to begin to understand her position in Christ.
  8. Ask them to pray for you—Kids want to feel valued and needed too. Choose a prayer need that is appropriate for your kids like a mild illness you are trying to get over, or an important meeting that you have tomorrow, and ask them to pray for you. If they are willing, they can pray for you after you pray for them. If they decline, politely ask them to pray for you after you leave the room. This can be very effective in helping to teach a child how to just talk with God with no one to make them feel awkward or judged.
  9. Pray simply–Leave your “thees” and “thous” for your Shakespeare night at the local theater. If you start speaking differently in prayer than you do in normal conversation, you might tune out your kids. You could also give them the impression that God needs us to be different than we really are. Just be yourself, and encourage them to do the same.
  10. Encourage your kids to attend youth events—Your extroverted kids will probably jump right in and have a blast, but your introverted kiddos will need a little more nudging. Consider volunteering to help set up, teach or serve at the event that you want them to attend. You do not need to be in their group or personal space, just in the building so they know if things get uncomfortable, you are only moments away.
  11. Have mini devotionals—A devotional is time carved out for prayer and talking. You can do this in the car, in the mornings, or in the evenings. Start talking about what you value and why God values it. Use easy to understand examples and begin to share your faith.
  12. Invite questions—Children of any age will have questions about what you believe, and the hard part in the beginning, is that you may not have a lot of the answers. But as parents, we should always be excited when our kids want more info on our faith, even if they seem to be combative about it. Just stay calm, and do your research. If you still aren’t sure, ask a pastor or mature Christian for some guidance. I have learned so much about my own faith by taking the time to answer my kids’ questions.
  13. Be consistent—You don’t have to be obsessive to begin laying a foundation of faith for your children. Attend church regularly, pray daily and just do your best. And if you fall out of these habits, just pick it up where you left off. Do not assume that you have to be perfect to lead your children to Christ.

Becoming a Christian family “mid-stream” typically seems a little daunting for parents. There is so much to know and do correctly but we do not need to be experts right away. In fact, we never will be. Just be honest and a little vulnerable with your kids as to why you even want God in your life to begin with. Share what He has done for you, and keep the dialogue open through simple prayers and genuine concern for your kids’ needs.

Give yourselves grace as parents, and be patient with your kids. Accepting God into our daily lives can seem as foreign to children as Martians from Pluto. Keep your answers and your faith simple and approachable and let God do the rest.

“And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:2-4)

You do not have to be a wise theologian to be a Christian mom or dad. You just have to start following Christ with the faith of a child. Baby steps with an eternal impact are easily within your reach.


Kris Wolfe
About Kris Wolfe
Tennessee | United States

Kris Wolfe is a Christian, wife and mother. She is a freelance writer who focuses on spiritual and practical encouragement, writes lessons for small group purposes for churches, and is also a small group coach. Kris has a master’s degree in Biblical Counseling from Luther Rice University and Seminary and is a listed TN Supreme Court Rule 31 Mediator.

Kris covers topics such as dating, marriage, parenting, divorce, post-divorce recovery, and the blended family. Read more from Kris at: Clarksville, TN Online and her website.

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