Encouraging our children in their faith
- What kind of adults do we want our children to become?
- How do we help shape our children’s values and beliefs?
- How do we help them be a positive influence in their community?
Research shows that parents continue to be the greatest influence on their children’s faith. As parents we can help our young people to find value and a place to belong in our faith community by encouraging them to find where their gifts and talents can be used ‘for the greater good’.
Belonging to something bigger is something that God hardwired into each of us. One of the fastest ways to help someone begin to feel like they belong is inviting them to contribute. Children and young people are no different. When a church genuinely creates space for children and young people to find a serving role that uses their gifts and talents, they can truly begin to know they belong.
‘Allowing children to serve the church with their gifts and talents cements them to the faith community and gives them a solid base of people who know and love them. This can reap enormous spiritual benefits when the children reach adolescence and young adulthood. These opportunities promote that feeling of belonging to the faith community, which is so important for children’s spiritual growth. And adults grow spiritually when they accept gifts from children and allow children to serve them. It is a reminder of what being a person of faith is all about’- Ivy Beckwith
God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings. 1 Peter 4:10 (TLB)
How can we help our young people to recognise their gifts and talents?
Here are a few things you can do to help encourage them to celebrate their unique God-given talents:
- Read a classic Bible hero story like the story of Noah, Joseph, or Esther. Talk about what these great men and women of the Bible possessed as their special talents, and how they used them to do great and mighty things. Help them to think about the things they like to do and share with others.
- If your family has multiple children, write each child’s name on a large piece of paper and tape it to the wall (one piece for each child). Throughout the week, encourage everyone in the family to write (or draw) if they are too little) something they admire about that family member, or what they think their unique gifts are. At the end of the week, read the posters aloud at your dinner or at a family devotion time. This is a great way to encourage your family members and let them see just how amazing everyone thinks they are.
- Find an activity that will help your child use his or her talents or even grow them. It could be a volunteer or ministry opportunity like visiting a local nursing home once a month and taking them homemade goodies and cards. It could be playing a sport, or acting in a play. There are so many options when it comes to activities for children. Don’t be afraid to let them try a few things (as time and money allow) to find the one that‘s perfect for them.
- Read a storybook or watch a children’s DVD that has an encouraging message like I Will Trust God from the Hermie & Friends DVD. This DVD has two powerful stories that will help children learn about embracing their uniqueness and trusting God even when it’s hard to be different.
- Find verses that will encourage them and lift them up, and print them out on cards that you can place on the wall in their room or somewhere they will read it often. Remind them daily that they are loved by God!
Children and young people are gifted and talented leaders among their friends, families and church communities. Their childlike faith displays and invites every generation to approach God with daring boldness – just like a child approaches a loving parent.
Rachel Schilling | Vicki Rochow
GUIDING PRINCIPLE #8 – Opportunities are given to discover and express gifts and talents
Ivy Beckwith (2009) ‘Postmodern Children’s Ministry; Ministry to children in the 21st century’