I’d venture to say that just about every parent hopes to pass on their beliefs to their children. Whether that parent is a Christian or an atheist, their views about the world, themselves and God are important enough to them to want to share those views with their kids. Parents want their kids to not only understand what they believe but to embrace those beliefs as their own. As Christians, we don’t want our kids to just know about Jesus; we want them to personally know and walk with Jesus daily.
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There is no formula for passing on our faith. No guarantee that the gospel message we share with our children will sink deep into their hearts and transform their lives. But I believe there are some principles we can keep in mind that can help us to share the good news of Jesus Christ with our kids.
Here are my 5 suggestions for sharing the gospel with your kids….
1. Live a life of faith in front of your kids.
The best way to share the gospel with your kids is to be real about the work of the gospel in your own life. As parents, we often attempt to hide our faults from our kids (of course they see them but we still try to hide them) but this keeps us from showing our true need for a Savior and sharing with our kids the great work Jesus is doing in our lives. So the next time you get frustrated at the man who took your parking spot, let your kids know! Tell them you’re angry but remember to let them know that you need to repent of your anger and ask the Lord to fill you with a kind spirit. And lets not forget to share the great things God is doing in our lives as well. Did you hold your tongue when the cashier said something unkind? Let your kids know that the Lord helped you in that situation. The more we live out our faith in front of our kids, the more they will see how vitally important the gospel is for life (not only here but in the life to come).
2. Saturate your home with the gospel.
Make sure your kids know that the gospel message is for every part of life not just for Sundays and before meals and bedtime. Start thinking of ways to saturate your home with the gospel so that every part of your family’s life is dripping with the good news of Jesus Christ! There are lots of ways to start saturating your home with the gospel but here are a few ideas to get you thinking…
- Include your kids in a short prayer to get your day going and spend a few minutes in the afternoon or evening discussing how God worked and/or revealed Himself to each family member that day.
- Read (or listen to audio) from the Bible with your kids. God’s Word is living and active so don’t assume His word won’t impact your young child!
- Create a prayer board in your home with the names or pictures of family, friends, missionaries and church and government leaders to pray for.
- Create a prayer map. Let your kids point to a location on the map and pray for that region.
- Memorize scripture together. (Here is a great idea for keeping track of the memory verses your family is learning.)
- Have a prayer box filled with prayer requests that each family member can draw out of and pray for each day. (And don’t forget to praise God for prayer requests He has answered!)
- Make a “Stones of Remembrance” altar in your home to remind your family of all the ways God has provided for your family and answered prayers. (Hoping to write a post on how to do this soon.)
- Use scripture while disciplining and instructing your child. (Here are two resources: Wise Words for Moms and the Child Training Bible)
- Have an on-going dialogue with your kids about who God is, what He has done, and what He is doing in the hearts of each family member. Talk daily about how God’s Word applies to the challenges your child is facing.
- Worship and read the Bible together as a family.
- Do a Bible study alongside your older kids. Learning and applying God’s Word with your child is a great way to strengthen your relationship and build up your faith together.
3. Give your kids the gospel while laying down the law.
Our kids need rules but we need to remember that the law was meant to crush us and make us realize our need for a Savior. If all we give our kids is the law or rules then we are leaving them pretty hopeless. Instead, give your kids the good news of Jesus Christ while laying down the law and disciplining the bad behavior.
But how does that work? First, remind your child of the rule that was broken and then encourage them with the gospel that says we are all sinners but that Jesus already paid the price for their sins. It might go something like this: Your daughter bites your sons arm out of anger. You tell her the rule (and the punishment) but you use it to point her to Christ by saying something like this, “Daughter, I know you are angry with your brother but biting is not okay and you will get (x,y or z) as your punishment. I know it is easy to get angry when we don’t get what we want. Mommy gets angry too. That’s why you and Mommy both need Jesus to wash away all the bad things we do. If you believe in Jesus then He can help you to deal with your anger better. If you don’t know Jesus then it will be hard for you to manage your anger for the rest of your life. Do you see how wonderful it is to know Jesus?”
As parents, lets give our children the hope found in the gospel even while we are laying down the law. (To read and listen to my own gospel parenting testimony click here . And you might consider purchasing this excellent resource, Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus)
4. Make sure YOU know the gospel.
If you don’t know about the good news of Jesus then you won’t be able to share it with your kids. (If you aren’t sure what the gospel really means then click here.) And if you know the gospel but you’ve gotten so wrapped up in living the good Christian life that you have forgotten the importance of what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross then be reminded by this quote,
The truth that so many of us have lost and so desperately need to find is that Christianity isn’t essentially a program to help moral people be better. No, it’s a relationship based on the premise that we aren’t good now and will never be good enough in this life. We need someone to be good in our place, to suffer what we deserve to suffer, and to live the righteous life we should have lived. Our Redeemer has taken our sinful identity so that we might receive his righteous one! ( Elyse Fitzpatrick, Because He Loves Me)
5. Understand that while you can give your kids the knowledge of the gospel, it is only the Holy Spirit who can transform their hearts with the gospel.
Too often, as parents, we bear the weight of our children’s souls when this burden was not meant for us to shoulder. We know in our minds that God is the one who changes hearts but we often live like it is our responsibility. Yes, God desires for us to eagerly share the good news of Jesus Christ with our kids. He wants us to be a part of what He is doing in their hearts. But He also wants us to rest in the knowledge that He chooses, He calls and He transforms lives…. not us. I believe God often allows us to fail miserably as parents so that our kids see how utterly sinful we are and how much we need a Savior so that they can better see their own sinful state and need for Jesus. If we were perfect parents then our kids wouldn’t need a perfect Savior. So joyfully share the gospel with your children but then step back, take a deep breath and rest knowing God is in control!
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