Joseph, Daniel, Timothy, Esther, Stephen and so many more stood up courageously for their God in the Bible. When you look at the children in your church who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, do you see kids who are truly living out what they’ve been taught? How do you propel your kids forward towards a life of amazingly courageous faith? Let’s explore 10 ways to do that through practical ideas, testimonies from kids, and resources that can assist you in the process.
#1 Coach kids to know and love the Word of God.
Where do you begin when encouraging kids to live out their faith? Step one is to challenge them to know and love the Word of God. God’s Word is the fuel to ignite a child’s passion to pursue the exciting plan God designed specifically for him before time began. Once this forward movement begins in a child’s life, we need to be ready to challenge them to use what is pouring out of their soul. A solid biblical curriculum that provides a game plan for long-term discipleship can help you stay on track.
#2 Train kids to confidently share their personal testimony.
After a child hears the Gospel and makes the personal choice to accept it, they need to become confident in sharing their personal testimony. A testimony is clearly sharing with others what God has done in a person’s life. It has to be more than just a simple statement of, “I became a Christian at church” or “I asked Jesus into my heart.” How would this help anyone understand the incredible experience you had when a holy and righteous God sent His one and only Son to die and then rise again so that you can be saved from your sins? Coaching children to share their testimony begins when you verbally role model your testimony to your students and then teach them key Gospel points to be woven into their personal story of life transformation. Create opportunities for kids to share their testimonies in front of a large group such as occasionally setting aside time during the opening worship portion of the morning for kids to share.
#3 Teach kids to feed themselves.
To live out your faith, you need a constant daily fueling of Truth that will fill you. I love using the Awana program in our children’s ministries because it’s a wonderful tool, if used purposefully, for parents to teach their children how to study God’s Word. The weekly routine of working through the Awana books becomes a habit of reading God’s Word, understanding the meaning of specific scripture verses, and then memorizing them. These steps create a great foundation in developing the habit of a personal devotional life where kids can feed themselves the Word of God.
Throughout the week, I grow closer to God by reading my Bible everyday; my goal is to read the Bible cover to cover, and I am currently in Leviticus. I also read a daily devotion (Devotions for the God Girl, by Hayley DiMarco). I attend AWANA every week, and go to class every Sunday. I serve with a special needs child every other Sunday. I try to surround myself with good Christian friends, so they can direct me back to God if I ever lose sight. I have some non-Christian friends at school; I talk to them about AWANA or special events at church to give them the opportunity to learn more about Christ. Some of them come to AWANA and other events. I also listen to Christian music, so that I can hear the word of Christ no matter where I am and what I am doing.
– Sophie, 6th Grade
#4 Meditate on God’s Word together.
Joshua 1:8 teaches us that we should meditate on God’s Word, which means to stop and think about it deeply. The attention span of children is dropping as the pace of this world is speeding up. The world’s values of speed and constant information saturation totally clash with the ideas found in the word “meditate” and in the verse that tells us to be still, cease striving, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10). So when and where can you challenge kids to meditate in a world of craziness? Start off by setting aside 15 seconds in your kids’ worship set to be completely still and meditate on God. Give them the opportunity to close their eyes, bow their heads, and just think about God’s greatness or a scripture verse you’ve just read. Then encourage them to do the same thing before bed. You need to coach kids to take this time to focus on verses they memorized or lessons they’ve just studied to help keep their minds on the one true, powerful, awesome God.
#5 Challenge kids to cry out to God.
Prayer can be taught, but genuinely living out your faith means your kids will naturally respond with heartfelt prayer during times of crisis. In the Bible we often hear the statement, “They cried out to God.” Do your kids cry out to God? I believe that someone who can cry out to God in times of trouble is blessed with a deeper relationship with Him. Take time to talk to your students about a time you personally cried out to God. Then challenge them to think of a time, place, and situation they met with God and prayed like David or King Hezekiah. Talking about this and role modeling prayer like this will challenge kids to naturally cry out to God in times of crisis outside the walls of church.
Sometimes God puts you through hard times so you get closer to Him … you run back to Him.
– Derek , age 9
#6 Empower kids to evaluate the digital world.
If our kids’ ear buds could speak, what would they say? What is flowing continuously through the minds of our kids via their digital devices? Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
Living out their faith means your kids should fill their minds with God-honoring words and ideas. How do you coach kids toward positive choices in a digital world? Learn about the digital access that they have, and then use that when giving examples and illustrations in your lessons. Teach them to think about the words or actions expressed in video games, music, or movies through a biblical lens. Is it turning them towards God or away from God? Provide both kids and parents with Christian alternatives that are relevant to this generation. Highlight those options during your weekly announcements, incorporate them into your lessons, or play Christian music during an activity. Allow them to see how God has created talented people who use their God-given gifts to honor Him.
#7 Give kids opportunities to experience authentic worship.
Worship is more than a bunch of songs to get the wiggles out of kids. It’s a time to teach them to truly focus their minds on God and allow them the opportunity to really worship the One True God. How can we facilitate this? Select songs that kids can easily sing so their minds can naturally focus on their God rather than a million words. Be careful not to overdo hand motions; hand motions are a form of worship, not a dance show. They should lead kids towards worship, rather than following body movements with a fun beat.
Give kids opportunities to be bold and loud for their faith. Encourage your kids to sing loudly and proudly; this idea should carry over into their lives outside the church in how they live out and voice their faith.
To help kids learn the songs and worship at home, inform parents where to find the music so they can continue to worship at home. To explore the area of worship further, I recommend a classic children’s ministry book, Teaching Kids Authentic Worship by Kathleen Chapman.
#8 Teach kids to recognize miracles of God.
Nothing in the Bible happened by luck or chance or circumstance. Challenging kids to see and acknowledge miracles of all sizes is a huge step in helping them understand the power of their God.
Ask kids, “Have you seen God do a miracle?” Make them stop and think about what God is doing right before their eyes. Also, get excited when you see miracles in the Bible lessons you’re teaching. Remind kids that the God of Moses is the same God who walks by our side today.
I have seen God do miracles in my life through hard times. This past year the enemy tried very hard to break apart my family. God had another plan and brought my family back together because we kept our faith in Him. Now our family is even stronger! He not only did that, but then He blessed our family with my mom getting pregnant in her old age after being told many years ago it would not be possible. He can make the impossible possible! I want you to know that God does miracles in our everyday lives, big and small, even though we might not see it.
#9 Express God@Work.
I saw God@Work! Coaching kids to personally see God’s hand at work is one thing. The second step is to challenge them to boldly and clearly communicate what they’ve experienced. One way to do this is by creating a God@Work video booth for your kids to share. Allow kids to verbalize how they have seen God working in their life or how He has answered prayer. Edit the video into short clips and use as transitions during your kids’ worship time.
#10 Create spiritual conversations.
It’s one thing to know truth and another thing to have spiritual conversations. What better way for kids to do this than to have spiritual conversations with their parents? For some, this is an easy conversation, but surprisingly, for many it’s something new. To encourage and facilitate this, let one of your next door prizes be a gift card kids can use to take their parents out to lunch and discuss what they learned in class. Or, have a simple competition to motivate kids to have spiritual conversations with their parents. You, the teacher, call a few parents two days after class asking if the kids talked with them about what they learned. If the conversation happened, send a gift card for a child/parent date.
To explore a new children’s ministry program designed for churches who are eager to invest in a long-term discipleship plan, visit DLGlobal.org.