Raising Your Kids to Defend Their Faith - Part 3

January 15, 2020 by Focus on the Family

Know Whose Voices You Are Listening To


An atheist might ask, “If God exists, why doesn’t He write something in the sky to help us know who He is?” or “Where did the universe come from?” But our faith isn’t a blind leap in the dark. In video 3, Natasha Crain shows parents how to approach this and similar types of questions from their children. Knowing the answers to these questions – and where and how we got the Bible – will help you point to objective evidence outside your personal experience with God.


Key takeaways from this episode:

  • Your personal testimony is important. But you can’t export your faith to someone else. You need objective evidence outside of your faith experience to help someone else seek the truth.

  • A good place to start is Scripture. Parents should teach their children where the Bible came from and why we can trust it as true. Bible stories or songs don’t answer challenges to history, accuracy and authority.

  • Point kids to the evidence we have in the physical universe and on earth, then ask good questions, including “What’s the best explanation for these things?”


    Read and meditate on this Scripture:

     

    “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” 

    - Romans 1:19-20 (ESV)


    Please let us know your thoughts and comments by clicking here.



Get help from some related resources



// Articles and broadcasts


Hear more from Natasha Crain on the broadcast Answering your kids’ tough faith questions


Browse our series page on Apologetics to build your own background knowledge


// Resource suggestions



For parents of kids ages 8 to 18, The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask About Christianity from apologist Alex McFarland equips you to answer your kids’ questions about God, Jesus, the Bible and the problem of evil.


Order your copy here


 



Forensic Faith for Kids teaches kids to think like a detective to solve a case, in the process equipping them with skills that help them navigate tough questions about faith in Jesus. Ages 8+


Order your copy here


More for kids from this author


 


It Couldn’t Just Happen offers kids biblical answers to their questions about evolution, providing fun activities

and fascinating examples of how God sustains the universe. Ages 7+


Order your copy here




Raising Your Kids to Defend Their Faith - Video Series Part 2

January 11, 2020 by Focus on the Family

Exposing Your Kids to Other Ideas


In the second video, Natasha Crain explains how Christian parents can embrace the fact that they don’t always have immediate answers and may have their own doubts. Watch below as Natasha shows parents how to press forward through their own doubts or uncertainties.


Key takeaways from this episode:


Your children can mature in their faith by learning why secular values and ideas conflict with God’s Word and how Christians can offer biblical responses to challenges to the faith.


Doubts and questioning can be healthy if they lead to searching the Scriptures. Talk openly about the difficult aspects of following Jesus and seek answers together. As your kids grow older and have their own questions, you’ll be a safe and reliable source for answers.


As a mom or dad, you ought to encourage your children to make the Christian faith their own, not just because you believe it. 


Read and meditate on this Scripture:


“In your hearts, honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” 

– 1 Peter 3:15 (ESV)


Get help from some related resources



// Articles and broadcasts


Read Natasha Crain’s article Teach kids how to defend their faith


Read Natasha Crain’s 10 tips for having deeper faith conversations with your kids


Read the article When your child doubts the existence of God


// Resource suggestions



Written in kid-friendly language Case for Faith for Kids addresses questions like Do all religions lead to God? Why does God allow bad things to happen? Can you have doubts and still be a Christian? Ages 8+


Order your copy here


Order the Student Edition for ages 11+


 



Case for a Creator for Kids explores advances in our understanding of cosmology, physics and DNA to answer kids’ questions

about creation: How did the universe begin? Was everything created by chance? How can we know? Ages 8+


Order your copy here  


Find more for kids by this author


 



TrueU DVD series: Reassure your senior high or university student with compelling arguments for faith from history, philosophy, cosmology and biology. Titles in the series include Does God Exist?, Is the Bible Reliable? And Who Is Jesus?


View the series here



Raising Your Kids to Defend Their Faith - Video Series Part 1

January 4, 2020 by Focus on the Family

In video one, Natasha Crain encourages parents to learn about the truths of Christianity and how to answer common questions about the faith. It may seem intimidating at first, and it will take some time and practice, but if you ask God to guide you, the Holy Spirit will be with you as you learn. Once you get started, you’ll feel encouraged that your children trust you as the primary shaper of their faith.


Key Takeaways from this Episode:

  • God has given parents the privilege and responsibility of helping children learn, understand and grow in the Christian faith and in a personal relationship with Jesus.
  • Be encouraged! This video series is designed to be a resource to help you get started in learning more about apologetics. Along the way, we’ll point you to helpful tools to deepen your understanding.

Read and meditate on this Scripture:

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
– 2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)


Please let us know your thoughts and comments by clicking here.



Get help from some related resources

// Articles on building a robust faith in your child

Read Natasha’s article 4 challenges to your child’s faith and how you can counter them

Read the article Building lasting faith in kids: Proven ideas from Sticky Faith research

Browse our series page Nurturing your child’s faith for loads of ideas on sharing your faith with your kids, including how to deal with their doubts.

// Resource suggestions

Natasha Crain’s book Talking With Your Kids About God will equip you to discuss questions like Do science and religion contradict each other? Why does God seem so harsh in the Old Testament? How do we know God hears our prayers?

Order your copy of this book today and get $4 off when you use the promo code*: ABOUTGOD

 

Talking With Your Kids About Jesus equips you for essential conversations about the truth of Jesus’ identity, miracles, teachings, death and resurrection.

Order your copy of this book today and get $4 off when you use the promo code*: ABOUTJESUS

 

Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side from Natasha Crain helps you deal with 40 challenging questions like Don’t all religions point to the same truth? Can we trust the Bible’s authors? What facts support the resurrection?

Order your copy here



Lisa shares a few Christmastime traditions and would love to hear about your family's Christmas traditions. December 22, 2020.


8 Kid-Approved Ways to Have a Jesus-Focused Christmas

December 21, 2020 by Christie Thomas

This Christmas, set out a few strategic toys to help your kids experience a Jesus-focused Christmas, through play.


His chubby hands wrapped up the stuffed bear in a special blankie, then lowered the swaddled bear into a laundry basket.


“Ni-night Jesus,” he said.


I tucked him in, and made sure that the Jesus-bear was ready for sleep as well.


Together, we acted out a story as old as time.


“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” Luke 2:6, 7 (NIV)


Christmas is the perfect time to learn to incorporate play into your child’s Bible learning, because the subject matter is so gentle and the story is so familiar to even the most irregular church-goer.


It may look to adults that they are “just” playing, but the amount of learning that occurs in the brain when a child is freely enjoying themselves is astounding.


(Google “learn through play” to read a ton of info about this!)


For example, playing with various sized buckets at a sand and water table is giving a preschool an early understanding of volume. Scribbling helps them learn fine motor skills, and simple puzzles help them identify shapes (which is crucial for understanding letters).


I am a huge proponent of letting kids play what they want (within safe limits!) when they want, because it also helps them learn self-discipline, engages their imaginations, and helps with their social skills.


I’m all about making family faith fun and simple so that your kids love it, and you can feel confident that you’re nurturing deep faith roots in your family.


Encouraging my young son to wrap up a stuffed bear and lay him in a “manger” helped him learn to be gentle, as well as teaching him the Christmas story in a fun and simple way.


This is something you can easily introduce to your child this Christmas, using the follow list of 8 ways to teach your child the Nativity story this Christmas through play.


Some are items you would simply make available for free play time, and others include a guided play aspect. Click on each picture to learn more details about the product.


8 kid-approved ways to have a Jesus-focused Christmas


1) Place a toy nativity set at child level.


As adults, we have a tendency to pick up beautiful nativity sets that our kids aren’t allowed to touch, so it’s important to have one that your child can engage with! They might plan the nativity story, or they might do something totally different (they might even add some dinosaurs to the scene)! Both are totally okay!


If you’re looking for a set, you can choose from Fisher Price (for toddlers/preschoolers), or Playmobil or Lego sets for the bigger kids. We have the Playmobil one at home and we love the details in it, down to the light-up lantern to place in the stable.



2) Leave Nativity-appropriate costumes in a play area


Toss a bunch of costumes in a plastic bin and let your kids have fun! Assuming you don’t have scads of Bible-times costumes laying around, here are a few ideas to help you find some:


A) Find bathrobes and animal costumes at your local secondhand store.


B) Make your own (here are some cute patterns I found!)


C) Buy (or create) some masks!



3) Bake nativity cookies


Baking cookies itself might not qualify as free play, but doing it together will help them with fine motor and math skills, and give you quality time together! Use nativity cookie cutters!


4) Download a free Christmas-play guide!


If you liked the activity I mentioned at the beginning, there are 20 other simple activities in this Christmas play guide. Click here to grab it. 


I’m a huge fan of these activities because they’re simple enough for little kids, but also fun for bigger kids. AND they don’t require any prep because they’re play-based, not craft-based. Win-win!


5) Set out some nativity-themed puppets


Set these up behind a puppet stage (or a couch) and see what happens! You can probably find some animal puppets at a secondhand store, but there are some adorable finger puppets I found on Amazon!


6) Hide some wisemen around the house!


This game is more parent-directed, but is still a super fun way to PLAY at Christmas! Simply hide your wisemen around the house, moving them to a different spot each day as they search for the newborn King.


7) Make the crafts from Truth in the Tinsel


Making crafts might not feel like play to some moms (you know who you are!), but there are some kids (and moms) who ADORE crafting! Check out the suggestions for many different Nativity-Themed crafts in this bestselling e-book. Click here to view more details


8) Set out purposeful Christmas books


There are probably about 14 billion Christmas books already in print, and I’m sure you have your favourites. My favourite ones are those that approach the Christmas story in a new way. I like them to creatively share the deeper meaning of Christmas without simply retelling the story over…and over…and over. Here's a link to a few of my favorites.


Let us know your thoughts, comments or ideas by clicking here.

WRBC Christmas Drive-Thru

December 18, 2020

Our Christmas Drive-Thru was a hit! We were solidly busy from 5:30-7:10pm. We saw 239 vehicles of families come through and all were given a gift bag. Everyone was pleasantly surprised and thankful we put this event on. There are no parties this year so all we can do is spread some Christmas cheer through the glow of Christmas bringing us the warmth of God’s LOVE, all while keeping everyone safe in their own little vehicle bubbles. We are glad that so many families were able to enjoy this experience, it makes all the hard work worth while.


A huge THANK YOU to our church family for all the Christmas lights which were either borrowed or donated for this event. And we collected just enough mandarin oranges and treats to give out in our gift bags. We also collected $785.40 plus food and toys for Sources Food Bank. A huge thank you to our WRBC donors, volunteers and sponsors including Newton Superstore and West Coast Gardens who made this all possible.


May the spirit of Christmas bring you and your family PEACE and JOY, may the gladness of Christmas bring you HOPE, and may the glow of Christmas bring you the warmth of His LOVE. 

Wishing you a safe and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Giving Children Grace, When They Deserve Discipline

December 15, 2020 by Brie Gowen

I’m all for discipline. In a world that’s gone soft on some issues (like telling kids “no”), but far too harsh on others (like the lack of patience at a red light), I am completely in favor of making children listen to reason. After all, we are raising the future generation. It’s up to us to instill morals, model compassion, and correct erroneous behavior for a productive future for them. I mean, if kids think they can always win, get their way every time, and throw a fit when they are opposed, then they’re going to be in a world of hurt one day. Yep, you have to create an environment where they understand they’re not number one, yet still let them know they matter. There are so many lessons to be learned, but sadly we often miss the most important one.


As a mother of young children, I think nothing tries your patience like trying to get out of the house on time with your kids in tow. They move like molasses, whine like a broken down washing machine, and couldn’t find their shoes if you were paying them to. Make it a Sunday morning and it’s even worse. Like, can we just make it to church on time once?!


This past Sunday morning I was doing my usual routine. I had gotten up before everyone else. I had picked out each child’s clothing and placed them in neat piles on the couch. All they had to do was comply with simple instruction, basically. As I assisted my youngest two daughters with getting dressed and untangling their long tresses, I noticed my eight-year-old had fallen back asleep on the couch. I called her name, asking her to get dressed. I even added a please. I deserve some extra credit for that.


Then she pulled out the whine, like nails on a chalkboard. She lamented, “I don’t wanna go to church!”


My first thought was all the mornings I rose before 5am, while my daughter snoozed on. They were homeschooled! It’s not like they had to get up earlier than they wanted every day of the week. It was just one day! Instructing my child of all of this sat on the tip of my tongue. I wanted to tell her how lucky she was to not have to get up as early as I did. I needed her to understand that one day she wouldn’t be so lucky, that she needed to get used to doing things she didn’t feel like doing! I wanted to tell her that she should have gone to bed earlier, that she was reaping the effects of her own stubborn refusal to go to sleep. This was my job as a parent, right.?! To prepare her for a cruel future!


So, with all this in mind I called her over to me.


“Come over here,” I instructed.


She plodded lazily in my direction, and as she got closer I reached for her lanky arm and pulled her quickly into my lap.


“My sweet baby,” I whispered, as I squeezed her gently, placing loving kisses on her forehead.


I held her for a few moments in silence, rocking back and forth. I could feel the frustration and attitude melt away from her. She eased naturally into my embrace, and the body that had at first felt heavy suddenly became light.


She giggled, “I’m your baby!”


I held her another minute, and then I questioned, “You ready to get dressed for Mom?”


She popped out of my lap with renewed motivation, “I sure am!”


We have a huge responsibility as parents. There are so many lessons to be taught, but the one we most easily forget, especially in such a fast-paced world, is the lesson of grace. It’s given when we least deserve it, and it’s given in love. Out of the many life hacks, I want to teach my daughters, the most important is how to lead a successful, emotionally and spiritually healthy life. One of my biggest ministry callings in life is the one I live out each day as a parent. So much of what they learn about Christ will be not just from my words, but also modeled in my actions. They see the love of God through me. I am the hands and feet of Jesus to the little ones, and they learn about saving grace when I bestow it.


I think back on all the ridiculous, unsavory choices I have made in life, and through it all, God loved me. Yes, He taught me lessons when I was less than my best, but above all His great grace called me back.


He said, “You are Mine. I love you, child.”


I still have a tendency to be a brat. I can sometimes imagine my Father God shaking His head when I fear things like financial loss or hardship. He could rip the rug out from under me and show me that He is my provider, but instead He speaks to my heart with loving patience, He holds me in the comforting arms of His Holy Spirit and reminds me, I’ve got this, daughter. Do not fear, for I am with you.


When I doubt, He loves me still. When I blatantly sinned against Him, He waited for my return with open arms. When I am weary, bone tired, likely due to my own fault, He takes me in His arms. He bestows grace. And if there’s anything He gives me that I in turn can give to my children, it is that great grace, that loving patience, and that tender mercy, even when it’s not deserved.


Dear God, please grant me the wisdom to know when my children need to be showered in grace instead of guided by discipline. In Jesus’ name, amen.


Let us know your comments and thoughts by clicking here.

Community Christmas Drive-Thru!

Saturday, December 12 from 5:30-7:30pm

Everyone is welcome!

Please come and see me tomorrow night at our Christmas Drive Thru!! We'll have tons of decorations, characters and lights

I would love to see you and wish you a Merry Christmas! Every family with kids will receive a small gift bag, while supplies last!

Come early so you don't miss out!

Click here for an invite you can share.

Let us know your thoughts and comments by clicking here.


Advent and Upcoming Christmas Drive-Thru Event

December 4, 2020

Pastor Lisa encourages us and shares about Advent and a fun upcoming event!

Click here to let us know your thoughts and comments.


How to Engage Your Kids in Online Church in 3 Easy Steps

July 9, 2020    by Christie Thomas

Let Sunday, my family sat in the basement during our livestream church, and in the course of the hour-long service, one or more of my boys participated in the following:

  • asking for snacks
  • flipping through a photo album
  • playing with the dog
  • racing back and forth across the basement
  • hiding under a blanket
  • climbing the telepost
  • begging for a kids show

It’s not that my kids are “bad”, and it’s not that our church service was boring. It’s that…well, they’re KIDS. And most kids aren’t great at sitting still through a whole sermon, even when it’s on TV. The novelty of “church-on-TV” seems to have worn off, at least for my boys.

 

Why should they participate in “adult church” anyway?

When I first posted this idea online, several people suggested churches that have dedicated online children’s ministry programs on Sunday morning. That’s fine. I have nothing against children’s ministry. In fact, I worked in paid or volunteer children’s ministry for over 20 years. Our church has a weekly online class for kids too.

While there are definitely benefits to age-appropriate teaching, I firmly believe that inviting our kids into full participation in the service has benefit too!

Participating TOGETHER in church makes our kids feel included right from the start. There has been a lot of chatter recently about why teens leave the church, and it seems that part of the mass exodus may be related to our age-segregated programming (aka Children’s Church and Youth Group).


They’ve been separated for so long, they don’t know how to be part of the bigger church family. When they’re not specifically catered to anymore, they leave because they no longer feel a sense of belonging.

 

Our kids and teens need to know they belong in the greater Body NOW, not just when they turn 18. To do that, we need at least some aspects of our church life to be intergenerational.


As parents, you an I have the choice to let our faith become intergenerational. We can continue having our own church services, OR we can do something different…something revolutionary.


We can worship TOGETHER.


But since your kids might be a lot like mine, I’m going to share 3 easy steps you can take to help your kids engage in online or Livestream church services (even without a kids program).


Intergenerational church doesn’t need to be exhausting!

 

1. Be all there.

Be all there. For real.


I mean us, as parents. It’s tempting to answer texts during the service since the pastor won’t notice the white glow on your face.  But you know who will notice? Your kids.


If you’re not fully there, they won’t be either. (This article goes more deeply into preparing your own heart for online worship.)


2. Manage Expectations

Sitting through a whole sermon can be hard for kids, especially if they’re not used to sitting through sermons. Or maybe your kids ARE used to sitting through sermons, but they need the expectations (and mild peer pressure) of the church family to help them focus. In the safety of your home, they won’t sit still.


As parents, we need to recognize that it can be weird to sing out loud at home or to sit quietly on the couch watching the pastor speak from the computer.


We need to decide what we will expect from our kids.


Do we want them to sing?

Do we want them to take notes during the sermon?

Do we just want them to stop begging for snacks?


It helps to know our kids. If you have a child with ADHD, expecting him to sit through the sermon is unfair. If your preschooler is always hungry at that time of day, make sure she has a snack. Thankfully, you’ve been stuck at home with these kids for a couple of months now, so you should know what they can and cannot do!


3. Encourage Active Listening

I started homeschooling this year (in September, before it was mandatory 🤣) and here’s one thing I’ve learned:

My kids can sit and listen for a VERY long time when they’re listening to something engaging AND their hands are busy. I keep a bin of Lego in my living room for read-aloud time, and my 6, 8, and 11-year-old boys will happily create while I read for an hour, and still beg for more when my voice is exhausted.


I know my kids are not alone in this. In fact, I got the idea for “active listening” from other homeschool moms.


Friends, active listening WORKS.


So here’s what you do:


Set out some supplies on the floor or table. (See my list below for ideas. )


Instead of begging your kids to sit-down-and-listen-already, simply ask them to create something that reminds them of the service.


For example, if your pastor is preaching on the parable of the sower, ask your child to create something that reminds them of the parable. A young child might glue pompoms to a page as seeds, or scribble a picture of dirt. Older kids might draw or paint the story or set up a re-enactment with building blocks. Teens who might normally be disengaged might enjoy journaling in their Bibles or drawing out the Scripture text in funky lettering.


As they create, your children will be listening better AND they’ll have something concrete to remind them of what they learned. (Also, you’ll get to listen to the sermon for once). Win-win-win!

 

You may find that you get drawn into the activity as well, and connect more with the service than ever before!

There are MANY ways you could encourage active listening, which I’ll list below. Just know that you can change the type of toy/art supplies each week or just use the one type that works best.


If you like to have a visual reminder that it’s okay to worship God through crafting and journalling, you can print this poster of all the ways kids can engage in Scripture.



8 Types of Supplies To Encourage Active Listening During Church


Here’s a list of possible supplies you could set out:


1. PAPER AND PENCILS.

Young children can draw pictures, and older kids can draw or write out the text in fancy lettering. Throw in some markers and some kids will be sad when the sermon is over!


2. PLAYDOUGH.

Allow your kids to pound and roll and sculpt while they’re listening. This little gem was created by my 8-year-old in response to the Easter lessons at church.

 

3. WIKKISTIX

These ingenious little craft supplies are perfect for keeping hands busy on long drives, and it turns out they’re also perfect for church! Turn them into glasses so you can see the world through God’s eyes, shape them into little people or animals, or make buildings. WikkiStix are easy for kids of any age to shape, which actually makes them better than playdough, in my opinion.

 

4. RANDOM CRAFT SUPPLIES

Set out scissors and glue, then add whatever you can easily access: popsicle sticks, string, beads, pipe cleaners, rubber bands, etc.


5. BLOCKS OR LEGO

Kids can use blocks to spell words, create scenery, or re-enact Bible stories. My own kids have used blocks to create a lion’s den and to finish the phrase, “God, you are amazing because…”

Find the perfect block set for your family!

 

6. ART SUPPLIES.

Set out a cup of water, washable paint, brushes, and paper and ask your child to create a piece of art that reflects the service.

 

7. NATURE SUPPLIES.

One sunny autumn day, my preschooler rushed into the house demanding that we come outside to see his altar. My husband and I were a little shocked at first (I mean, an ALTAR??) but it turns out that he had set up the scene of Elijah on Mount Carmel. He built the altar out of sticks and was throwing colorful autumn leaves onto it to depict the fire coming from heaven.

If you can watch your online church outside, why not let your kids use what’s around them to respond to the service?


8. JOURNALING BIBLES

One of my boys loves to read a portion of text and then draw his interpretation right in his Bible. I let him color the entire page because he has a second Bible. I love that he will have this journaling Bible as a keepsake, and it is also a great learning tool!

 

Find a journaling Bible!

 

So that’s it! When you try this at home, please let me know how it goes. Leave a comment here or connect with me on social media!


May God give you the wisdom to know your child 
and the grace to set their imagination loose 
to experience the wonders of God 
even through online church.


Love,

Christie


Please let us know if any of these helped you and if you have more suggestions!


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