Sharing the Gospel with Your Kids
As Christian parents, we probably all put right at the top of our list, “Teach our children to know and love and serve the Lord Jesus.” The stakes are high, and frankly, it can be a daunting thing to realize we have the biggest influence in our kids’ daily spiritual instruction!
Our friend Dennis Gundersen is a veteran pastor and the author of a thoughtful book called Your Child’s Profession of Faith. He’s been a friend of ours for at least twenty years, and we spoke to him on our podcast about some aspects of sharing the Gospel with your children.
How early can you teach your children about Jesus, sin, and forgiveness? “I can’t remember a time that we didn’t,” Dennis told us (he and his wife Naomi have four married adult sons). If the normal, everyday conversation in the home speaks about spiritual truth frequently, he said, then our children are going to hear spiritual truth from a young age … and often.
We need to be transparent about living out our faith in front of our children. Jesus lived out the ministry He was teaching His disciples, and His teaching style to them was often more about demonstration than instruction.
But family worship is important, too, and “practically applying it to ourselves” Dennis said. It’s important not to avoid the difficult or even “scary” topics like our inborn sinfulness and desperate need for a Savior! It’s not just “Jesus is my Friend” – we are all like sheep who have gone astray!
How to you get from the comforting messages to the need for repentance and forgiveness? “We found that all truth has roads to other truth,” he said. When we study through the Bible, “there are direct pathways between the gentle truths about Jesus and the wrath He endured on the Cross.” When you read straight through the Bible, you’ll get a balanced message. Our sin and guilt lead us back to the love of God in Christ, and the love of God for poor sinners leads us to Calvary.
How do you lead family devotions? It depends on your family, he said. If your children are all older kids and believers themselves, you might have longer and deeper devotions; but “You can cover a lot of the Bible in 10 or 15 minutes a day, if you make it a daily habit,” Dennis said. He recommends simply reading and discussing the Bible, rather than trying to find a curriculum and make it fit your family’s particular needs, interests, doctrinal background, and so on.
Some of the earliest spiritual training will probably be simple obedience. We asked him about one writer we know who says that the primary duty of children is to obey. Dennis said there is an element of truth to that; he noted that one of the most frequent statements in Proverbs is, “Son, listen to me!” And nothing opens the way for the Gospel than dealing with open sin or rebellion.
But it’s important that we parents confess our sins against our kids – and ask their forgiveness. They are very sensitive to hypocrisy and inconsistency in our actions and words. Sometimes we parents are going to react too quickly, or make unfair assumptions, or simply lose our temper with our children. It is appropriate and powerful when we admit our wrongs to our children, ask their forgiveness, and pray for God’s help overcoming these things in ourselves!
There are more great ideas on the full episode – you can get it on iTunes or listen online at the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network!
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