The Child Makeover: How to Best Impact a Child for Christ

Impacting our children. A topic that many speak wisely upon…until they have kids. We’ve seen kids with “bad” parents turn out well and kids of “good” parents turn out not well. So what can we do the most to impact our children? Could it be in the opportunities we take to invest in our children?

This is the theme of chapter 3. The initial story about the dad who is not reactive to his teenage son’s music style is important. The dad does not go a route of being judgmental or just try to change his behavior. Instead, he comes alongside his son, even listening to the music…and then seeks to have the son’s life cross path’s with the gospel in a music style his son listens to. (Which resulted in the teen not only listening to Christian music but also in playing it.) This encounter is a reminder to us that parents (uncles/aunts, grandparents, etc.) are missionaries seeking to convey the gospel to their children in a way they can understand.

The adults express to a child who God is by how they live. When the adult just drops them off to a program with little going on in the adult’s faith or expression of faith in the home, why are we surprised that the child’s faith life stops when the program is over? The message is that God is a program, not a Person. As Holmen notes (p. 72) the stats on faith dialogues in the home (with father, with mother, devotions/Bible reading, etc.) are abysmally low.

Holmen’s position that faith is not taught but caught seems a bit too clean. It strikes me that it is both. There are “taught” elements where we provide the content of faith in helping someone understand the characteristics of God (love, grace, omniscient, etc.) or the actions of a life of faith in Christ (worship, biblical teaching, time with other Christ-followers, communion, etc.). The “caught” side is the process of our faith where we discuss or provide example to how the content interacts with how we live, answer how one develops a relationship with God, and how the Holy Spirit is at work in the life of a believer. This goes back to the example of modeling, mentoring, discipleship, etc. that we have discussed in previous posts.

As Holmen describes, the Christian faith is not about having all the answers but it is about having the conversation. Someone does not come to Christ because all the answers are made. They have come to a place where they have begun a relationship with God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) that acknowledges a need for Christ and a desire to follow him with their life.

Holmen provides a few lenses (p. 75+) for looking for how we can have “makeover” interactions with the children in our lives (whether grandchildren, nieces/nephews, god-children, etc.) through prayerful T.R.A.I.N.-ing:

  • T.-Time=car time, sick time, bed time, meal time, vacation time, memory-making time, one-on-one time
  • R.-Repetition=meal prayer times, times for blessing, etc. repeated over the lifetime.
  • A.-Acceptance=Work in grace-filled, mercy-full  action to redeem when they make mistakes. (Think of the father in the prodigal son story.)
  • I.-Intentionality=Look for opportunities to share your personal faith life or listen to how faith in Christ impacts their life. Keep trying even when it is not coming easy. They may appreciate it in the long run and will see what perseverance can look like.
  • N.-Never Ending=Continue the dialogues and pass faith-talk on in examples about previous generations following Christ or others in your family expressing faith.

THIS WEEK’S DISCUSSION: What are other times or situations you have found fruitful for this?

  • Join the conversation at the “Comments” link below.

FOR NEXT WEEK: Choose and try an activity (pp. 86-89) or one of the questions (p. 90).

3 Responses

  1. Brian
    When travelling, we'll pray for situations we run across, such as accidents or a police car going by. It encourages us to see our faith in "real time" and keep us connected to God's world around us. After such a moment sometimes we'll talk about what Jesus, his teaching or some part of the Bible (love, serving, etc.) may have to do with what we saw. These spontaneous moments are some of our most fruitful faith conversations!
  2. Angie Branum
    We do that, too. Whenever we hear sirens or learn of situations on the news, we pray for those involved. We continue to talk about what we learned in church or at Sunday School if we can connect it in some way to what we are doing or coming across that week. It is interesting that some of Katelynn's pictures that she draws have connections to God, and in reviewing her art from daycare, we are able to talk about God and heaven and how much God loves us. I love that she is already a "seeker"; seeking knowledge about God!
    • Brian
      That is encouraging Angie! It's cool to see the kids begin to express what they know and their interest in God.

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