Serving with Your Kids

The last couple of weeks, we have talked about many elements in helping your kids build their own quiet time where they learn to connect with God through regular discussions about him and his word, journaling, and prayer. Today we are going to talk about how to serve your church and community with your kids and show them God’s heart in serving people. Serving puts all that head knowledge into heart & hand action. So let’s dive in!


Why?

When I was in junior high and high school, I had many opportunities to serve our church with my family during the holiday season. During Christmas, the church would put on a large Christmas production. My parents and brother and I would help build and paint sets, as well as serving dinners for the cast and crew. My dad played the drums in the orchestra, and I performed four of the seven years we attended that church.

Those are some the best memories and experiences from those years, because not only did I experience being a part of something bigger than myself, I got to do it with my family. I can remember having to work a quick math problem to figure out how many gallons of mashed potatoes we needed to whip up for the 100+ member cast and crew. I remember brainstorming about costumes with my mom. I remember getting to perform on stage while my dad played in the orchestra. Great memories and moments that I wouldn’t trade for anything. But they represent far more than memories. I was getting to put my faith in action, and follow Jesus’ example.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

Jesus didn’t come to the earth to do great in the polls, rise to a high-ranking position, or socialize with the socially elite. He came to wash feet, hold squirming babies, and socialize with the social outcasts. He came to show love and change peoples’ hearts. And he did it with the heart of a servant.

Our society does not naturally promote or demonstrate selflessness, but rather selfishness. As the Church and as parents, we need to model Jesus’ example, not imitate society’s example. Kids need to see the importance of following Jesus’ example, because through serving, it reminds them (and all of us) that life isn’t all about them. We discover Jesus’ heart when we put others before ourselves.

But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. Luke 22:26

Serving also helps to uncover and develop your kids’ gifts.

It was through performing in numerous church productions and events that I began to uncover and develop gifts that set the course of my life. God used dance to teach me so much about him, and through dance, I was able to develop a passion for worship, choreography experience, organization skills, and confidence that easily carried over into other parts of my life. Because I stuck with dance, I unearthed a desire to teach dance and invest in the next generation of students. Out of those teaching skills and experiences, I gained confidence and a deeper desire to invest in kids through working in youth ministry. You never know what seeds of ministry are being planted while your kid serves alongside you at church.

Maybe your kids will find they like praying for other people, playing with babies in the nursery, making cards for the sick, or helping to organize the food pantry. For older teens, they may be able to serve on the worship team, nursery or kids’ department. All of these efforts help kids to realize that God has given them unique gifts to be used for his kingdom.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

Serving is also an outflow of salvation. Providing a way for your kids to serve the body is a crucial part of their spiritual walk with the Lord. They learn to put action behind compassion and empathy. They learn to put others first. They learn to overcome fears and trust God in the unknown. They learn that God isn’t just for Sundays, but for all days of the week.

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! Hebrews 9:14


How?

Kids are doers. These growing up years are crucial times for kids to exercise their faith and put it into action. Let them channel that energy and experience serving their church. Depending on your church structure and size, your child can help in a variety of ways.

For elementary age kids, they can:

  • Pass the offering basket during service
  • Join a parent in the nursery to play with the little ones
  • Help with local mission projects like cleaning or serving
  • Write prayer requests down or take attendance during Sunday school
  • Stand with a parent or adult to be a greeter

For older kids and teens, they can additionally:

  • Serve on the worship team
  • Serve on the media/tech team
  • Help with VBS and special events
  • Serve as a leader in children’s church

Kids want to feel helpful. It’s hard sometimes being a kid in adult world, where you’re not old enough to do a lot of things. Show kids they have an active role to play right now as a child, and they don’t have to wait to grow up to do things for Jesus. When kids know they truly have an impact NOW in this thing called life, that gets them excited to serve on their own. But if no one casts a vision for that, or never highlights Jesus’ servant heart, how will kids know that’s important?

If you set an example of serving the church and community and make it a priority in your family, rather than afterthought, they are much more likely to make that a pattern in their own lives.

Oh how exciting it is to be raising up a generation of servant leaders!

Building a Prayer Life with Your Kids

If a quiet time/devotion time were a cinnamon roll, prayer might be the gooey delicious center. That’s where we diving into today. Prayer is an outflow of a healthy quiet time, so today I’m sharing some excerpts from the prayer section in “Bloom,” along with additional thoughts not featured in the book.


I remember when I first started praying regularly on my own. We of course prayed at meals and at church, but I had yet to tap into my own prayer life.

I was almost ten, and my grandpa was in the hospital. I remember being prompted that I should pray for him, and as I began to do that, the Lord brought other people to mind that needed prayer. That discipline of prayer has evolved over the years, but it’s now a habit that I begin and end each day with prayer, with lots of little prayers in between.

But there was a lot I didn’t understand about prayer in the beginning. For example, my list of people I was praying for became so long I’d often fall asleep before the end, but then I’d experience guilt for not finishing. I thought I had to keep up this long laundry list of prayers going before the Lord.

Prayer to kids can be confusing and overwhelming (and let’s face it, for us adults too), so today we are going to be walking through some easy points to explain prayer to the kids in your life.


A Conversation

We understand that prayer is a conversation between God and his kids. Just us talking to God. As you have this conversation with your kid, draw the comparison between how you two are sitting there talking, and prayer. Both of you will talk. God is always listening. You don’t have to use a lot of words, pray in a specific place and you definitely don’t have to employ fancy words. I know that those facts would’ve been reassuring to me as a kid, that God doesn’t expect me to talk like an adult to him, that he would understand me just as I was. And the same will be reassuring for your kids.

The Lord’s Prayer

Another way to engage your kids in the practice of prayer is to encourage them to memorize the Lord’s prayer, and maybe take the opportunity to refresh yourself on it. As you read the passage, found in Matthew 6, point out that you don’t have to say those exact words, but that the position of the heart is a pattern to follow.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be the name.” We start off by acknowledging who God is and his power.

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We also acknowledge that it’s his plan that will prevail.

“Give us today our daily bread.” We ask him to meet our needs.

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Here we ask for forgiveness while also practicing forgiveness with those in our lives.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” And we ask for his help in resisting temptations.

The petitions lifted to God mirror the needs in our own lives today. Help them see that no need is too small or too big to pray about. For instance, moving up in Sunday school, meeting a new teacher, or standing up for themselves may not seem like a big deal to us, but it can be a huge deal to them. Set an example of lifting those needs to the Lord.

A Prayer Journal

Prayer journals can also an important part of prayer life. I started journaling when my cousin gave me one for Christmas in 2004. Recorded all throughout my journals are prayers and struggles I’ve walked through the past 12 years, and whenever God answers a need, I make sure to record the answer. Whenever I’m walking through a trial, I write down how I’m feeling and what I’m learning. It helps me process what I’m going through in the moment, and it serves as an encouragement years down the road.

Seeing years of answered prayer is a faith builder, no doubt about it. And some past entries make me laugh out loud. The point is we serve a faithful God! He is ready and waiting to listen to us and to answer our prayers.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7: 7-8

Help your kids select a special notebook or journal so they can began writing, or even drawing, out their prayer and praises to God. Encourage them to also take notes in church in it. Whatever you choose, keep it simple, but make it special.  This isn’t about making a wish list and sending it up to God. Talk through with your kids that as you spend more time with him, you begin to desire what he wants, so your prayers more and more will line up with his will.

Above all, cast the vision that you don’t have to pray in the same place or even at the same time every day. God knows that prayer keeps us connected to him, so he wants us to learn to pray so that we keep our hearts turned toward Him.

I love this perspective from John MacArthur from his book “Alone with God.”

For Christians, prayer is like breathing. You don’t have to think to breathe because the atmosphere exerts pressure on your lungs and forces you to breathe…Similarly, when you’re born into the family of God, you enter into a spiritual atmosphere wherein God’s presence and grace exert pressure, or influence, on your life. Prayer is the normal response to that pressure.

I’ve been walking with God for 22 years now, and that’s the first time I’ve heard prayer described in quite that way. But it makes total sense, and I can assure you that the lung analogy will resonate with kids as well.

Just like with the quiet time, kids will pick up on your attitude toward prayer. If you pray out loud and with your kids regularly, it will seem as natural as breathing to them. If you rarely pray out loud, throughout the day, or with them, how will they know what to do? How will they know what a prayer life should look like? So whether you buy them a prayer journal, or pray out loud with them for a friend, a family member or at bed time for the first time, the time is now to model a prayer life to your kids.


Enjoy this post? Check out the first in the series here.

For my content like this, my devotion book “Bloom” is coming out November 15. Sign up below to stay updated!

Building a Quiet Time With Your Kids

Hello and welcome to a new series, Building a Quiet Time with Your Kids. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be taking a look at what God’s word says about developing the spiritual lives of your kids and how to get them excited to delve into God’s word on their own.

build-a-quiet-time

No, I don’t have kids yet, but I was one once and I’ve worked with kids and teens a lot over the past 10 years. I know what an impact a regular devotion time with the Lord has meant in my walk, and I want to empower families to build meaningful, lasting quiet time habits with their kids.

So first things first, let’s open the Bible.


Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates. 


From these words in Deuteronomy 6, we see that instilling a love for God and his word in kids is a process that happens all the time, inside and outside of the house. It happens at bedtime, during lunch, on trips to the library and on family vacations. It happens in the moments when you least expect it, and sometimes it doesn’t happen when you do expect it. Regardless,  this process involves talking about God’s word, demonstrating God’s word, and writing down God’s word.

Demonstrate

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children.

God’s commandments needed to be impressed first on you, the parents, before you impress them on the kids. Kids are always, always watching. In addition to large memories from my childhood, I remember the tiniest details about my parents. I remember my dad’s cologne and how it made our Honda Accord smell. I remember my mom’s rabbit cookie jar and her curling my bangs. As parents, you fill your kid’s vision and scope of life more than any other adult. If they don’t see you reaching for you Bible, praying over issues as they come up and talking about the things of God, they won’t make it a priority because they don’t see you making it a priority.

Growing up, I remember the Bible being a consistent theme in my life. We constantly played praise music in the car (my dad played on the worship team at church so we had an abundance of music). And what I learned at church was reinforced at home, and reinforced at school for the couple of years that I attend private school. My parents’ Bibles were well-marked and worn, and even when we would visit my Grammy or her mom, my great-grandmother, their Bibles were often out on a nearby table with a pen, journal, or Bible study book. They prayed with me, for me, and talked about scriptures. Their spiritual life was evident, even to a little kid. It was not hidden.

When my mom began homeschooling my brother and I, each day started off with a Bible study and I saw how God could be seamlessly woven into every part of my life. He wasn’t just for Sundays.

Tie them as symbols…bind them on your foreheads.

The question I would pose to parents is do you have a hidden quiet time, or a visible quiet time to your kids?

I know it’s hard to find uninterrupted time with little ones, and so “quiet time” may look very different for a season of your life. But the point is your kids shouldn’t have to look far to see how you spend time with God.

Talk & Write

How do you incorporate talking about God and his word in your daily life? It’s in these conversations that kids make the connection between the Bible and everyday life. They begin to see they can pray for the sick people they know, share their toys or snacks, or tell the truth about who broke Grandma’s vase. You don’t always have to have a sit-down devotion in order to impart something worthwhile. More often than not, it is in those passing moments that a bigger truth is forever imprinted on a little heart.

Seeing Scriptures or lyrics to worships songs written out around the house is another way to constantly keep these truths in front of kids. There was a little embroidered verse in the entryway of our home: Joshua 24:15. It declared to all who entered that we served God above all, and I can still picture it to this day. Images like these reinforce what they learn and make it easier to remember. And if they don’t quite understand what the verses mean, it’s a great way to open conversation to talk about the things of God.

Every family is different, every season is different, and spiritual needs vary from kid to kid. But all the more reason to dive into God’s word and let it bear fruit in your family.


Part 2: Building a Prayer Life with Your Kids

Like this post? Then check out my devotional book for girls ages 10+! It’s perfect for helping the young girls in your life develop a quiet time of their own.

First Draft

Today I did something I’ve never done before. I finished the first draft of my first book.

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Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset: that’s just my journal underneath my tea cup!

Since I resigned from my office job in February, I have been steadily working on a project the Lord laid on my heart: a year-long devotional for pre-teen girls.

I have vivid memories of my first devotional book and the excitement to read each day’s passage. To this day, I can remember certain topics from those books, and their takeaway points became the foundation of my understanding about God and His plan for me.

There’s a reason I focus on this age group. On a weekly basis, I interact with pre-teen girls in dance class and mentoring settings. In those environments, I’ve seen them on their best days and their worst as they transition from a kid to a teen.

Girls are bombarded with toxic messages 24/7 about their identity and what’s required to “make it” in our culture. The devotional addresses everyday topics that pre-teen girls face: choosing good friends, obeying authority, telling the truth and developing a healthy self-image, and much more!

My heart fills with tenderness at the truth I hope will be planted in their hearts. Truth that will bloom and bear fruit for years to come.

I am currently pursuing publishers to take this book from something more than a document on my laptop. Will you join me in praying that we pursue the right avenue?

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Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

 

Now how shall I reward myself? Boba tea? A Target trip? (Oh wait…I did that yesterday…)