See what we have been studying in our Bible Fellowship
Many Christian parents face a paradox: How can some children
hear the Good News of the Bible and believe,
while others hear the same message
and remain unaffected? While the process of faith may be miraculous, it is not
Jesus explained it in His parable of the sower (Matthew
13:1-23). Teaching received without understanding kills the yield.
with shallow roots withers and dies. Distractions, worries and desires for
other things choke the Word.
But one who hears the Word and understands it
How can we help our children receive the Word and bear fruit?
Jesus' parable inspires several practical planting tips.
Focus on understanding.
Many parents and teachers
attempt to impart faith primarily through the transfer of Bible facts.
seeds will not likely take root unless kids truly understand the meaning of the
Sunday school worksheets often use fill-in-the-blanks and word puzzles
to drill children on their factual knowledge.
But unscrambling the word
forgiveness in a puzzle is far less important than understanding the meaning of
Hearing is not enough. Reading is not enough. Memorizing is not
enough — unless your goal is to produce a Bible "Jeopardy" champion.
Concentrate your time on helping kids really understand God's Word, its
relevance today and how you apply it.
Let them experience the message.
People remember and
are affected by vivid experiences. When Jesus wanted His disciples to learn
He got down on His knees and washed their feet. You can be
sure those disciples never forgot that faith lesson!
You can do the same with
your children. For example, to help them experience the concept of grace,
involve your family in giving
to others without expecting anything in return.
Or to encourage kind words as mentioned in Ephesians
4:29, invite family members to write or draw
a kind note to one another.
(For more ideas on teaching through experiences, visit Heritage Builders.)
Use teachable moments.
Typically, when your kids are
enveloped in emotion-packed situations, they are the most ready to grow.
circumstances provoke feelings of fear, sadness, anger, exhilaration, awe or
wonder, be prepared to help them see how God is working.
When Johnny is scared
may be the opportune time to teach about God's presence. Jesus took advantage
of teachable moments often,
such as during the storm on the lake and with those
who threatened to stone the adulterous woman.
Reinforce for long-term retention.
Some information we
quickly forget. Other things we remember a lifetime. We can help move more of
God's message into long-term memory
through "interval reinforcement,"
review or use of the message repeatedly over time. If the brain registers
information just once,
less than 10 percent of the message is likely to be
remembered after 30 days. But if there are six exposures to the information
over 30 days,
90 percent of the message is likely to be retained. If you want
your kids to understand God as Creator, repeat the message frequently —
you drive through the mountains, when you witness a sunset, when you visit the
zoo and when you marvel at the intricacy of the human body.
Many well-intentioned parents and
teachers attempt to grow their kids' faith through the enticement of rewards.
"Learn this verse and get a ribbon." "Go to Sunday school and
get a cookie." It may seem harmless, but bribing kids actually sets up a
The "do this and get that" approach causes kids to focus
more on the "that" than the "this." Jesus never said,
"If you do unto others what you want them to do to you, you get a
lollipop," or "If you feed My sheep, you get a Twinkie."
Your kids will learn more when they
enjoy the process. Make learning about God fun! Some parents and teachers wince
at this suggestion.
Few people gain a love for anything that is marinated in
drudgery. No one ever accused Jesus of being dull or boring.
In fact, consider
His first miracle: turning water into wine for the wedding at Cana. And
remember how He told Peter to find cash for the temple tax —
go catch a fish
and pull a coin from its mouth. Delightful! So, make faith learning delightful.
Jesus concludes His parable: "The one who received the
seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it.
He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was
sown" (Matthew 13:23). What crop are you plotting with your kids?
Shared with permission from Focus on the Family
Sharing the Gospel with Kids
Copyright © 2004 Thom Schultz. All rights reserved.
International copyright secured. Used by permission.