Set the Example
From your child's earliest days, you can surround him with a spiritual environment that will motivate and teach him to follow God.
Your own attitudes, actions, and speech are your child's first introduction to godliness.
Be enthusiastic about learning spiritual truths, because your child will read you before he is ever able to read the written Word (II Cor. 3:2)! -Doreen Claggett
As your child's understanding grows, it is God's Word permeating your daily life and conversation that gives the foundation for his spiritual development.
Talk about Bible Truths
Scripture admonishes us to talk about God's Word in the midst of all our family life activities (Deut. 6:6-7).
Talk about the things God made when outside.
Talk about children being a gift from God when feeding the baby.
Talk about God loving them when hugging them.
Talk about God's command to love one another as they interact with siblings.
Tell them God's standards for behavior as issues come up.
Talk about God's watch-care when tucking them into bed.
Two important foundations need to be laid in early childhood: the child's concept of God and his faith.
Joy Marie Dunlap
Memorize Selected Bible Passages
As soon as children can speak, they can recite Scripture. They can do this painlessly by simply hearing a passage read or recited to them daily.
Proverbs are perfect for 2-year-olds. Older preschoolers (3-5 years) can learn a whole chapter of Scripture after hearing the passage daily for three weeks.
Memorizing large sections of Scripture together as a family gives us the opportunity to see applications of the Scripture in real life, because we have a common frame of reference.
We did Psalm 1 and Eph. 6:11-18 (the armor of God).
We introduce a new verse at breakfast and repeat it at each meal, adding another verse or phrase each day.
We have our toddlers memorize Scripture verses about God's care for us and the need to obey our parents and love one another.
To make Scripture memorization easier for small children, break the verse into shorter rhythmic phrases and teach each phrase separately before putting the whole verse together.
Teach a very small child just one phrase per day if that is all he can handle.
Do hold your child to saying the verse exactly to encourage long-term Scripture memory.
We enjoy reciting the verses we learn together with our young children, not only during family devotions, but also when we are out in the car or at the park.
Joy Marie Dunlap
Among the first Bible verses our young children learn are what we term the Do-Bees.
These verses were selected as the essentials we wanted to instill in our children to encourage love for God and others and promote family harmonythings we want to do and to be.
We shorten verses for the little ones and sometimes expand them to include a whole passage for the older children.
Our 2-year-old was able to learn Love the Lord and Love thy neighbor (from Matt. 22:37, 39) and then surprised us by lisping the rest of the verses after hearing his older brothers recite them enough times.
Other verses include:
Pray one for another (James 5:16b).
Be ye kind one to another (Eph. 4:32).
Children, obey your parents (Eph. 6:1).
Be ye thankful (Col. 3:15).
Teach the character of God. Give children a true picture of what their Heavenly Father is like through Psalms.
As your children grow, hand-picked verses can help you over rough spots. Pick verses to meet individual needs.
Deb Deffinbaugh. Excerpted from the Timberdoodle Catalog.
Read the Bible Aloud
Faithfully read God's Word to even your youngest. The Holy Spirit often enlightens the minds of His lambs with the ability to understand simple truths of Scripture!
Read narratives to your children straight out of the Word of God. The Bible is full of wonderful stories.
Keep the readings short, and when you are finished, ask your child to tell you what happened. This allows you to check his comprehension and clear up misunderstandings.
Make your children comfortable during Bible reading. I gathered our little boys around me on the couch and put my arms around them.
Read through the entire Bible regularly as a family, explaining things your children are ready to understand.
Choose Bible storybooks carefully. Bible characters should be depicted as they would have appeared in real life. The text of Bible stories should accurately represent the truth in Scripture.
Bible story tapes can also be used. Men and women of God portrayed should sound serious, tender, and real.
Bible story videos are often portrayed in a silly and unlifelike way, giving children the impression that Bible stories are no more real than cartoons.
Joy Marie Dunlap
(Link to our Bible reading schedule online)
As soon as a child can talk, he can pray.
Our children learned to give thanks to the Lord; to pray when afraid, hurt, sad, or sick; and to pray for others. They also learned that God would answer in the way He knew best.
Encourage children to talk to God as a real person who loves and hears them.
Children can pray effectively. Help them to pray in their own words.
Help children to recognize and give thanks for specific answers to prayers.
Pray with children at mealtimes, during family devotions, while riding in the car, when hearing an ambulance, when seeing or hearing about a need, and in their own quiet times.
Use Scripture promises and commands as the basis for prayers to know that you are praying according to God's will.
Sing Hymns and Scripture Songs
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Col. 3:16).
Teach little children to sing and understand the great old hymns of the faith (e.g., This Is My Father's World, Fairest Lord Jesus, Jesus Loves Even Me, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, Now I Belong To Jesus, One Day).
Many hymns are based on specific Scriptures or biblical truths not found in many children's songs.
Select songs and choruses (e.g., Whisper a Prayer in the Morning, I Have Decided To Follow Jesus, His Sheep Am I) for their deep and true meaning and reverent tone.
Distinguish between joyful praise and merely fun songs.
Disciple Your Child
It is not enough for our children to know God and His Word. They must also be trained to trust Him, follow Him, and obey Him.
Lead by your example.
Be careful that all of your words and actions reflect honesty, integrity, faithfulness, responsibility, self- control, diligence, patience, contentment, thankfulness, love, and forgiveness.
Verbalize your motives.
Don't assume that your children know why you do the things you do. Speak of your love for God and desire to please Him. Point out the Bible passages that you are trying to obey.
Confess your sins.
Whenever you fall short of God's standards, make it clear to your children that you are sorry. Quote a Scripture that gives the command you have broken, and ask for forgiveness from God and from those you offended in the hearing of all who witnessed your sin.
for your children's behavior based on scriptural commands. Then refer to these as you consistently commend or correct your children.
in your children's lives that will foster their spiritual growthdaily Bible reading and prayer times, church attendance, Scripture memorization, confession and restitution for offenses, tithing, and singing hymns.
Cindy Short, Oregon