Last month my wife Stephana and I took a trip to Chicago for a conference we were invited to attend as part of the blogger and social media team. The conference was put on by one of our favorite organizations, Awana, which is a nonprofit ministry that serves kids all over the world.
Our kids have been in the Awana Clubs for the past six years and my wife and I have been serving in their Awana Clubs for the past three years. We love it so much and it’s had such an impact on our kids and family that we’ve literally scheduled our calendars around our Wednesday night Awana Club meetings.
With Awana being so impactful to our family, Stephana and I were super excited to have the opportunity to visit the Awana headquarters to meet and learn from some of the great people who make it such an amazing organization. When we arrived we had a brainstorming time with other members of the blogger team and several people on staff at Awana.
The next day we attended the Awana Vantage conference where some amazing speakers and people passionate about kids were sharing their ideas. The focus was how we can equip leaders, parents, teachers, and volunteers to then equip children to stand strong for Christ in our shifting culture.
A major concern for parents of faith
As I listened, took notes, and shared some of the key points on social media throughout the conference I couldn’t help but think of you and all my readers. A few months ago I did a reader survey and I asked a question about parenting. The question was…
If you could pick a PARENTING topic for me to explore more, what would it be?
One of the top answers was…
Instilling faith in our kids/Ways to have family devotions, prayer, or Bible study
In this changing world, our faith is challenged and questioned in ways we may not have imagined experiencing in our lifetimes. As parents, of course, this is a concern.
How do we lead and love our kids in a way that shows them the important role our faith plays in life?
How do we equip them to make faith the foundation of how they live their lives now and in the future?
The answer to the question
The answer to this challenge, and to these questions, was answered over and over by each speaker throughout the conference. It’s a very simple answer and simple concept, but one I think we as parents may not always be attentive to.
We focus on the relationship with our kids, not rules, regulations, or rituals. Our focus must be on building the best relationship with our kids that we can have. Our focus should be less about teaching them all the facts—what is right and what is wrong—and more about raising kids who know we love them. Facts are important, but without a relationship, they are lost.
Your next question may be, “How do we do that?” As I mentioned, I took a ton of notes during the conference. I learned a lot from the speakers and their experiences. I want to let a few of the speakers share via quote images how we become more relational with our children and through these relationships instill a faith that lasts beyond the years they are in our household.
Do you see, know, and understand your kids?
Lead a life that is worth following.
Spend time with them.
Connect with them emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.
The bottom line is we have to get in their world and make them and their interests important to us. When we build from a relational foundation, our kids will know we care about them enough to receive the truth and the faith we want to instill in them.
[reminder]What are you doing to show your kids the importance of making faith the foundation of their lives?[/reminder]
photo credit: Family ties via photopin (license)
I had a situation last night that really resonates with this topic. My oldest daughter is 7 and she is currently not feeling good. Well in an attempt to feel better, connect with us (her parents) she came into our room with her Kindle and started playing one of her favorite songs, “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” and started dancing.
At first I stopped her because 1, I had heard that song a million times. 2, I was talking with my wife (nothing important though). 3, I was thinking, she probably needs to rest more than going around dancing.
Instantly her face dropped and I felt it. What she really wanted was to share some time with us. To know that we still were interested in her, even while she is sick.
I get it. I look for my Father in heaven the same way. Days where I feel alone, miserable or just plain unimportant, I seek Him to simply let me know I still matter. He never fails! He always lets me know how pleased He is with me.
So I turned it around and asked her to play the song. She was hesitant at first, but soon her face lit up, she started dancing and so did I. We had a moment of fun and a memory to cherish.
I’m learning more each day that simply having a genuine relationship with my children, is the greatest possible gift I can give them.
Good stuff, Pete. Real good. Thanks for sharing.
Hi Jackie, this post caught my attention, because it is so easy for me to forget my kids in the hustle of running my business as a freelance artist. I spend time with my kids and do a devotional in the evening, but I need to be more intentional. And I need to spend time with them in more ways than just the evening devotional.
I love the quotes–“discipling is inherently relational.” It’s so easy to be reactionary–to lecture your kids when they do something wrong, rather than to teach them beforehand, so they will do what is right.
Lately, I’ve been having one “date night” (or day) a month with each child to have individualized attention and focus on their needs and to build our relationship. Thanks again, Jackie for the insightful posts!
I love that, Matt! We call them “Daddy-Kid Days” or “Daddy-Kid Dates” when it’s me and our daughter.
Great insight, Jackie.
For us, we have chosen to do a few things. I’ll list them to make the comment short.
1. Love your kids – regardless of where their “faith level is.” They are first your kids, whose hearts you’re discipling – so just love them through relationship building.
2. Live by faith – not by sight. They will believe what you demonstrate. Live a life of faith in front of them. We have made it a point to include our kids in our “faithing” experiences. For example, when we need a miracle, we ask them to help us pray about it. When they see the miracle – they have no choice but to believe and realize that there is truly a God that loves us, loves them and can be fully trusted.
3. Give them a need to pray for. We’ve have our kids responsible to pray and expect an answer so that when God answers their prayer, their faith receives a boost they can’t deny.
We do a few more things, but these cover most of them. During our relationship building, faith comes right along side of it, helping them understand that regardless of our differences (there are six of us in the house) God can help us mend those differences and work as one, enjoying eachother and working towards the same purpose.
Thanks again for another great post.
Good stuff, Alex! Thanks for sharing.