Preparing Spiritually Brave Kids: An Actionable Plan You Can Start Today to Help Your Children (and their parents!) Know God Better
—> A plan that works for grownups, too! <—
As moms, we want nothing more than to keep our children safe, secure, and protected. We long for them to be able to grow up in peace and have a prosperous future. But what if difficult days lie ahead for them? What can we as moms do to prepare our children to be spiritually brave, courageous followers of Christ?
Recently, I was having a conversation with one of my sisters-in-law. As we talked, our conversation moved to the many difficult things happening in the world right now (have you had a few of those conversations lately?!). Situations and circumstances that can cause great anxiety and paralyzing fear seem to fill our news feeds and even, in some cases, our communities. Current events cause us to wonder with a growing sense of apprehension what kind of world our children will inherit.
There is no doubt that we are living in uncertain times. Many of us have had our relatively comfortable lives shaken throughout this past year. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing, though, if we get shaken out of complacency and start to realize that there are areas of our lives where we ought to be living with far more intention and purpose as we prepare our children for their futures, no matter what lies ahead.
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As parents, my husband and I have had a desire to teach our children about the Lord since day one. We’ve certainly put effort into making that a reality throughout the years. But lately, I’ve felt an increased urgency to deepen my own walk with Christ and to help my children to do that in their lives as well. To help broaden their knowledge of God: something that will serve them well no matter what lies ahead in their future.
I’m not talking about giving them more rote facts that they can recite without even thinking. I’m talking about a solid understanding of Who their God is, which leads to a trust that will anchor their souls through both times of calm and tumultuous storms.
Much of that faith will have to grow through their own life experiences, as Romans 5:3-5 tells us: “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts… .” Yet we must never underestimate the power that we have as parents to lay the groundwork for our children’s growing, resilient faith!
The fact is that time spent investing in my children’s spiritual wellbeing will never, ever be wasted.
Taking time to prepare a firm foundation for my children, which they can then continue to build upon, is never a useless effort. I can’t go wrong teaching my children about who God is, why they can trust Him, and how to follow Him every day of their lives, bravely and with courage. Our level of trust in someone is in direct proportion to how well we know them. I want my children to know God deeply so that they can trust Him deeply and be prepared to face the future with bold faith.
Prepared. That’s the word I’ve chosen as my focus and theme for this year. (You can read that post right here.) Could there be any more essential of an area to prepare than to lay a rock-solid, foundational understanding of Who God is in the hearts of my children? I know that I cannot do spiritual work in my children’s hearts – that is God’s job – but I have a unique opportunity –and obligation – to cultivate the soil, plant seeds, and then water those seeds! Then, God sends the sunshine and performs the miracle that turns the soil, seeds, and water into thriving, fruit-bearing plants. Like the parable of the seed and the sower that Jesus told in the Gospels, I pray that my children’s hearts will be that good soil, where a bountiful spiritual harvest can grow.
As I’ve been thinking and praying about how to better prepare my children to be spiritually brave, I’ve developed this simple method that our family has begun to use, and I am so excited to share it here with you!
Here’s a simple three-part, actionable plan for preparing my children to be spiritually brave by helping them (and myself) know God better
- Study an attribute or characteristic of God
- Memorize a supporting Scripture passage
- Learn a song that reinforces the truth
As a family, each month of this year, we will be learning about one attribute of God. To help us with this, we will be memorizing a supporting Scripture passage that describes who God is along with a song that reinforces that truth in our hearts and minds.
I hope you will jump right in and join our family as we learn more about God and strengthen our faith together! Listed below are the three attributes of God that we are starting with this year. I’ve listed the truth about God, a suggested Scripture passage, and the hymn that we will be learning. I’ve also included a YouTube link to both a choral and instrumental version of each song. You can access these if you are not already familiar with the melody or just want some beautiful music to sing along with!
Remember that each family will be unique from others, and there will likely be variations within your family in how much of a hymn or scripture passage each person can memorize. Use these recommendations as a guide, and adapt them to fit your family.
I recommend starting with learning one scripture verse a week. If that is too easy for someone in your family, encourage them to commit a lengthier portion to memory. If you have little children or children with special needs, learning one verse over several weeks may be challenging enough for them. The important thing is to start, and you can tweak the plan as needed as you go along!
A note about the hymns: I’ve chosen to include learning hymns as part of this plan for a couple of reasons. One reason is that so many sacred songs are packed full of rich truth presented understandably, even for little minds. Secondly, it’s no secret that one of the most effective methods for any of us, old or young, to learn and retain information is to put it to rhyme and music. Please don’t skip this step because you feel your family isn’t musical! I think if you give it a try, you’ll find that singing together as a family is a wonderful way to spend time together, even if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Try it and see! If you’re still not quite ready to break into song together, at least listen to the hymns regularly so you can grow familiar with them.
Tools and Resources You Will Need:
A Bible (You can use the free printable to write out the passage you will be memorizing. You may want to write out the whole selection at once, or one verse at a time as you learn it. Either way is acceptable! Here’s a link to a journaling Bible similar to the one I use and love.)
A hymnbook (If you don’t already own one, you can get started with an online resource such as www.hymnary.org. However, investing in a family hymnbook is a resource I highly recommend. You may be able to purchase an extra copy of the hymnal your church uses, or you can buy a new or used one from several online companies.)
Printables (I’ve created this free, fun printable set for you to use. Each printable has one characteristic of God and a suggested Scripture passage for memorizing. There’s plenty of space to copy the verses out. At the bottom of each sheet is the first verse of the hymn we are learning for that month. Our family keeps our copy on the fridge for easy reference and as a visual reminder. Click here to get your copy!)
Ready? Let’s get started!
Truth: Our God is Our Helper
Scripture: Psalm 121:1-8. This Psalm is eight verses long. The first two verses are the key ones for our purposes, so we will be memorizing those first. Encourage those who are up for the challenge to learn the whole Psalm.
Hymn: O God, Our Help in Ages Past (This song has nine verses! You may only find three or four of them in most hymnbooks, though.)
For further study: Psalm 127:1-2; Psalm 146
Truth: Our God is Faithful
Scripture: Lamentations 3:21-26 This passage is six verses long, with verses 22-23 teaching the central concept.
Hymn: Great is Thy Faithfulness
For further study: Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 36:5-10; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
Truth: Our God is the Almighty
Scripture: Psalm 91:1-4 The first four verses of Psalm 91 talk about the Almighty God, Who is the protector of His people. The whole Psalm of sixteen verses is a beautiful passage to memorize for anyone who is up to the challenge!
Hymn: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
For further study: Psalm 104; Revelation 1:4-8; Revelation 21:22-27
Frequently Asked Questions
I don’t have children in my home – is this method still for me? Absolutely! We grownups need to be grounding our hearts in God and His Word every bit as much as children do! Maybe there is a friend who would like to memorize the song and scripture passage along with you, or maybe it’s something that you would like to do on your own (or get some young friends, nieces and nephews, or grandkids involved!). While this is a plan that I have prayerfully developed for preparing my children to be spiritually brave, these timeless, eternal truths are essential for Christians of every age!
What if I’m not musical?
While our family loves to sing, we are not particularly musical. I play the piano but struggle to hear and sing parts other than melody. My husband can’t read music and doesn’t sing parts, and he likes to joke that the only thing he plays is the radio. Groan. 😊 But that’s okay – we do our family singing around the dinner table, not in a concert hall. We typically sing songs for which we know the melody well. The hymns included in this plan are familiar to many, but I’ve included a link to each of the hymns so you can access that resource if they are new to you. Feel free to listen to these and sing along together as a family.
Words set to music can be incredibly powerful. Children can certainly learn some scriptural concepts from popular children’s choruses like “Deep and Wide” or “The Wise Man Built His House”. However, nothing can compare with the value of sacred music that Christians have been singing together for decades, if not centuries. We do our children a disservice if we only expect that they can memorize simple choruses and don’t give them exposure to beautiful, rich, doctrinally sound hymns.
We are new to memorizing Scripture together – any tips?
You may be surprised how quickly your children can memorize a scripture passage! (Of course, this will depend a lot on their ages and whether they have any special needs). I find that adding in some actions, and lots of expressions, helps a lot with memory retention. For older kids or adults, writing out the Scripture can be a powerful memory aid. We often quote the verse or passage together a few times as a family, then give everyone a turn to try saying it by themselves. Then we finish up by quoting it together again as a group.
It’s important to note that with Scripture memory, quality is more important than quantity. We may be able to “memory stuff” and rattle off a passage, only to forget it the next day. Focus on memorizing one verse very well before going on to the next one. And don’t forget to review regularly!
I’ve listed whole passages, but you’ll have to decide for yourself what is a reasonable amount to memorize as a family. In our family, one of my older sons can learn a new verse quite easily. My son, with special needs, struggles to memorize even short verses. However, we still include him and encourage him to learn to the best of his ability. I am confident that there is truth sinking deep into his heart, even if he can’t always verbalize back to us what he is learning. My youngest son is doing really well with memorizing but obviously, is not going to be able to retain as much as a typical older child. Young children or children with special needs may only get a word or two, or a short phrase, memorized, but every little bit counts!
Most of all, don’t give up! Stick with the plan, and little by little, you’ll be surprised by just how much your children (and you!) are learning and remembering!
As moms, we have an amazing opportunity and tremendous responsibility to plant seeds of resilient faith in our children’s hearts. With God’s help, we can prepare our children to be spiritually brave. Teaching them Who God is, based on His Word and reinforced with powerful hymns of the faith, is one way we can plant and water those seeds as we trust God to bring forth a full harvest.