Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6 NIV)
The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence. Denis Waitley
We, as parents are responsible for roots of responsibility when our children are young. As they reach adolescence, we begin to help them spread their wings. If we don’t provide the roots, the wings will lead them on many paths that are destructive. So how do we prepare them spiritually with roots of responsibility that leads to healthy wings? Here are some thoughts:
Begin preparing them before they can read. Katrina and I used to pray with our children (even as infants and in the womb) and sing the chorus of “Turn your Eyes upon Jesus’ every night. Prepare early for speaking a future blessing and spiritual word to them. With my schedule as a minister early on, I missed many of these opportunities which I regret! Don’t let your work or ministry cause you to miss these important times!
Encourage a regular devotional life. I accepted Christ as my Savior and Lord at 15. I began reading through the Bible (as my pastor requested) every year at one to three chapters every night. I also learned the books of the New Testament to the tune of “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.” I still remember the books because of this idea!
Katrina has challenged her middle schools students to have a devotional every day at Madison Heights Baptist Church. They are using this app and website: http://d365.org/ It would provide a devotional every day of the year.
Claim a verse for your child and claim their future. We discovered this idea in Georgia, and it is a great word! It is picturing a special future for our children. Children going into the first grade would have a Bible verse that teachers from their past would claim that encouraged them as they received their first Bible. The Bible verse would be used when they were baptized, graduated from high school and more. It was laminated and given to them as a bookmark for that first Bible.
Serve together in the church and outside the church walls. Children and youth need to see the brokenness of humanity and the power to bring hope, God’s love and grace to others.
For children we set up a Children’s Coloring Committee that helped all children to draw and color pictures for persons in the hospital and shut-ins. (I would also recommend the book, Praying in Color to enhance their prayer life. There is a children’s edition.)
For youth, get them involved in ministry inside the church and outside the church. Have a free media tech day where youth help members and others know how to use their cell phones and set up Facebook, Twitter and more. Advertise in the newspaper.
For youth, send them to Impact Virginia to help renovate houses for the poor: http://impactmissioncamps.org/
For youth and children: Adopt a shut-in. Many years ago, I took youth to a nursing home once a week. They adopted a resident and spent time with them. Many youth realized how fortunate they were, and developed great relationships outside the church.
How are you developing spiritual roots with your children and youth? (Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org