My last post was a “10 ways” list (on how to teach your young children to put God first) from Dr. Tim Kimmel’s book, “Raising Kids for True Greatness.” I want to include one more of the “10 ways” lists from the book in this blog post – “Ten Ways to Build a Great Attitude in Your Kids’ Hearts Towards God”:
1. Have a joyful faith. Believe big. Trust huge. Let your children see a belief in God that makes you a much happier and more agreeable person to live with.
2. Be actively involved in a thriving church. Find a church that exudes joy and an exciting attitude towards God.
3. No matter what church you go to, refuse to criticize the people who serve you. Love your pastor, worship leader, youth workers, Sunday School teachers, and volunteers. If there is a legitimate concern, deal with the person face-to-face in a spirit of grace, love, and kindness. Anything short of that and we become the real problem.
4. Do not speak unkindly about your church, or the people who serve in the church, around your children. The church is Jesus’s bride, and if we insult the church, we insult the Lord. Also, bitter talk and a critical spirit make us a pawn in Satan’s hand.
5. Pray for the people who serve your church.
6. Pull your weight. Volunteer your time, your spiritual gifts, and your sweat to carry the burden of the service of your church. Sign up to work in the nursery and Sunday school program. Remember: it’s not about us.
7. Set the example for your children by consistently supporting your church financially.
8. If the worship is getting too loud and too enthustiastic for you, bring some tissue for your ears, smile, worship your heart out, and be excited for the new generation of believers who are being ministered to. Once again, it’s not about us.
9. Decide once and for all that you love God’s Word. Make it a daily part of your routine. When you pray, lift up each one of your children and grandchildren by name …every day. Let your kids find God’s Word in your lap and His love in your heart.
10. Bring your family to church every Sunday, and encourage them during the week. Pray with them and for them. Minister to your children’s hearts throughout the week so that they can show up for church ready to love God and love others.
On a personal note, I had the opportunity to live out #2 and #6 last week as I volunteered with Bible Camp for 2-3 year olds at our church, All Souls Fellowship in Decatur, Georgia.
First of all, when we lived in New York (and knew we were moving to Atlanta), I cannot tell you how diligently I prayed for God to lead us towards a church home in Atlanta. Since having Shaan, church has been H-A-R-D! He had major separation anxiety the first 2.5 years of his life, and we only made it through 2 church services the entire time we lived in New York post-Shaan (they paged us out of church every week because he screamed so hysterically). It was exhausting, frustrating, and just plain emotionally draining. I prayed God would lead us to a church that could be good for us and Shaan, and boy (praise God!), did He answer!
All Soul’s has literally been a God-send to us, particularly Shaan. After about 2 visits, Shaan actually enjoyed church, so I am so thankful God led us to a church that “exudes joy and an exciting attitude towards God.” Not only that, but the church could not be more kid-friendly. Children of all ages (including newborns!) are allowed into worship throughout the singing (1st third of the service). It is so wonderful to have Shaan in the service participating in part of our worship with us. Also, even as a two year old, Shaan had “Sunday school.” He heard a story and had a relevant craft to show what he learned each week. He wasn’t just in a daycare/nursery setting as a young tot at church, he was actually (and still is) being discipled! It’s absolutely beautiful. “Let the little children come to me….” Matthew 19:14
As for Bible camp…what a wonderful experience! I learned so much last week. Again, I am very thankful to our church (particularly its children’s ministry coordinator, Susan Trotti) for all the effort expended to disciple the very youngest (2-3 year olds). Most Vacation Bible School programs of which I am aware start at around 4 and up, so I really commend our church for putting on a special week dedicated to the littlest of the lambs. I was physically wiped out from just 4 days (2 hours per day) of engaging these precious minds, so I now realize and appreciate just how hard Mrs. Susan (and all the children’s ministry volunteers) work! It really does take a village!
But it really is worth it! Praise God for all the volunteers and leaders in our churches, particularly those that work with little children. They really do make an impact – Shaan LOVED Bible Camp, had a wonderful, fun, exciting, and pleasant church experience, and has been asking when he can do Bible Camp again! This is a complete 180 from the boy who begged not to have to go to church! All that hard work pays off…I remember talking with Mrs. Susan and her husband (he and I were teasing her for being such a perfectionist on the decorations since we were hosting 2-3 year olds)! Her response was that she just really wanted the children to walk into a magical, mystical “Babylon” experience (the Bible camp was about Daniel in ancient Babylon). Mrs. Susan is a special lady who just loves children, thinks first and foremost of them, and wants them to truly enjoy worshipping the Lord. I could not be more thankful for Mrs. Susan and the impact she is having on these dear ones, and for all the other people like Mrs. Susan who are being used by our Savior to minister to these young ones. If you are thankful for the “Mrs. Susan” in your life, step up, help him/her out, and prepare to learn something from the Lord yourself. You will not be disappointed!