A wise friend and mentor once told me that kids spell love T-I-M-E, which is something a lot of us have a lot more of these days. With schools closed and many of us home more often than normal, we are given the gift of time to develop new rhythms and create intentional moments for our family. So, what is our best use of this extra time if we want to establish healthy, strong relationships?
In the words of my pastor, Tim Brooks, “our primary goal as parents is to disciple our children into the story of Christ.” The biggest lesson we will learn in our lifetime is how to love like Jesus and it starts from the time we are infants. Through our words and actions, we show our kids that they are fully accepted and unconditionally loved by us and by God and we teach them what it means to know and love Jesus. Out of an overflow of God’s love, we can implement simple practices that cultivate Christlike character in our children and invite God’s love to fill our homes.
Here are five practices to create a Christ-centered home and build a rock-solid foundation for our children’s faith:
1. Help Our Children Develop an Awareness of God’s Presence
God’s handiwork is all around us—we just have to open our eyes to see it. He is always speaking—we just need to quiet our minds sufficiently to hear Him. To the layperson or unbeliever, His acts are often overlooked or chalked up as mere coincidences, but to those of us who have ears to hear and understand, we are able to see them for what they truly are—marvelous works of God—and can point them out as such. For our children who are just beginning to form a relationship with Jesus, this helps them develop an awareness of His presence and fill their hearts with praise.
God’s wonders are found in everyday gifts, unexpected blessings, and the beauty of His creation. They are found in the intricate details of the organisms He created—down to the tiniest cathedral termite that builds insect skyscrapers over twenty-five feet high—characteristics that simply cannot be explained through random mutations and evolution without divine intervention. A few years ago, I started keeping a “God Sighting Journal” to keep track of the ways God shows up in my life. It included encouraging words from friends about how my writing ministered to them; opened doors for new opportunities to speak and serve; and repeated messages from sermons, song lyrics, conversations, and prayer that God used to guide me along His path. I share these with my children and encourage them to look for “God sightings” in their own life.
What are some ways you help your children develop an awareness of God’s presence in everyday moments?
2. Be in the Word
Children are great imitators, so let’s give them something great to imitate! Modeling is the best form of teaching because it shows our kids what’s really important to us—what we prioritize, value, and refer to as our moral compass. For Christians, our guidance and direction come from the Bible, so we want our kids to see it out and open. If we’re reading from our phones, our kids don’t know we’re in the Word—plus we’re more likely to get distracted—so let’s dig out our actual Bibles and put them in a designated location where we read them daily. Spending time in God’s Word sets a positive example for our kids, invites God to speak to us, and fills our minds with wisdom to parent with greater purpose and intention.
Displaying God’s Word in our homes is another way to help children learn scripture. My family has been choosing a verse from this list each week (by Create Family Culture) and writing it on a chalkboard in our school area. This week we’re focusing on putting others first with Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Recently, a friend of mine shared that she framed a Bible verse specific for each child and hung it over their bed to pray for them each night. I love this idea and am considering doing something similar.
Other ways we can be in the Word include memorizing a verse or passage of scripture with our kids so they are equipped with the Truth and can easily recall it; writing out God’s Word in a journal so they’re more likely to remember it, and filling our bookshelves and DVD cabinets with God-centered content (see #5).
What practices do you currently use in your home to help your children learn The Word?
3. Establish Godly Rhythms
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 calls us to write God’s commandments on our hearts—to impress them on our children, talk about them with we sit at home and when we walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up. Establishing Godly morning and evening routines helps provide structure while also building a strong foundation for our children’s faith that they will carry into adulthood.
Morning routines include grace before breakfast or prayer over your children before they leave for school. It may be something as simple as praying that your child would be a light for Jesus or that he would make wise decisions aligned with God’s will. We can intersperse God’s truth throughout our child’s day with lunchbox Bible verses, God time cards (we get these from our church and complete them during homework time), and conversation starters at meals, in addition to Christian music in the car and at home.
At night, we end the day by praying as a family and reading one page of a daily devotional. We recently finished Indescribable: 100 Devotions About God and Science and are now on How Great is our God by the same author, Louie Giglio. Both tie science and faith together in a way that captures our kids’ attention and helps them see how God’s Word is applicable to their everyday life. Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids by Sarah Young is another great one for elementary-aged children.
Weekly rhythms such as going to church, tithing, and serving are also important. What Godly rhythms do you practice in your home, church, or community?
4. Show Gratitude
A few weeks ago, my daughter shared when I tucked her into bed that she’d been having trouble falling asleep. She said it was hard to rest with so many stressful things going on in the world. While our children may feel physically safe, they are not immune to the stress and anxiety that adults experience with changes in normalcy, new routines, and concern for the safety and well-being of loved ones—especially during the Coronavirus pandemic.
At that moment, God brought to mind a song from my childhood—Count Your Blessings by Bing Crosby (from the movie White Christmas, which my family watched every year growing up). I sang the chorus to her, we counted the first nine blessings together, and I asked her to keep going after I said goodnight.
When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
The next morning, she came downstairs and said, “It worked, Mommy! I fell asleep at number forty-two. It helped me think about the happy things going on instead of the stressful things in this world.” Since then, I’ve been singing those three lines to her each night and pointing out God’s blessings throughout the day. What we focus on grows, so by showing gratitude we shift our thoughts from our problems to God’s provisions and our laments transform into praise.
We have the ability to take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Showing gratitude is just one way to do this. What are some other ways we can “get out of our own heads” and focus on Godly things instead?
5. Fill Your Hearts and Minds with God-Centered Content
In today’s world, this isn’t easy, especially when the number one shows on Netflix the past month were Tiger King and Too Hot to Handle (a show where singles meet and have to give up sex to win the $100,000 grand prize). It’s very sad, and unfortunately, even children’s programming is becoming indoctrinated with left-wing agendas as early the toddler years. Filtering the information that we allow in our homes to ensure that it is age-appropriate and aligned with our values has a tremendous impact on who our children become. Wholesome books, music, television, and other media help teach our kids about God and His character rather than our culture’s code of conduct, which is constantly declining. Scripture art coloring books, storybook Bibles, Christian movies and shows, and sing-alongs to worship music are all ways we can help write God’s Word on our children’s hearts and raise them to know and love the Lord.
Here are some God-centered books, movies, and media that we love.
- Books: God Gave Us Series by Lisa Bergren (preschool), Storybook Bible, Jesus Calling for Kids (ages 8-12), You Are Special and The Oak Inside the Acorn by Max Lucado (elementary), The Berenstain Bears – Living Lights: A Faith Story Series (preschool and elementary), Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side:40 Conversations to Help Them Build a Lasting Faith by Natasha Crain (an excellent resource for parents)
- Movies and Media: The Pilgrims Progress (currently free streaming through Revelation Media), The Star, RightNow Media (for adults and children; requires subscription)
- Other: Praying for our Children Calendar, Colorful Scripture Cards for Kids to Anchor their Identity in Christ.
A Christ-centered home is marked by joy, grace, and open conversations about Jesus. It is a place where each family member knows they are part of a larger unit and has a purpose in God’s greater story. A Christ-centered home instills values of humility, servitude, honesty, and most importantly, love. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). So, let us share Christ’s love with the little people in our homes and leave a legacy for God’s glory that extends beyond our lifetime.
Dear Lord, Thank you for my children—I know they are a precious gift from You. Help me to show them Your love and compassion and communicate, through my words and actions, that they are seen, heard, and highly valued. Grant me Your patience and wisdom to train them in the way they should go. Help me show kindness, extend grace and forgiveness, and share the joy that is found in following Jesus. Protect us and draw us deeper in Your Presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Jen Roland