Walking past her doorway, we could hear booming actors talking inside about a woman desperately looking for her tenth coin, or about blind men chasing down a carpenter renowned for his miracles. Other days, a loud orator would discuss breaking seals and pouring out bowls, and Revelation soon became her favorite book of the Bible. Elementary-aged Morgan would emerge from her room and ask deep questions about end times. Reading was harder for her at times in her younger elementary years, but listening to the Bible on tape/cd was perfect. She loved hearing the dramatic renditions of the Bible and amazed us with her near-memory recall of some familiar passages. Now, as a middle schooler, she grabs her Bible and a highlighter, disappearing onto her top bunk. “Mom, can you grab Daniel please? I want some time alone with my Bible.”
Most of us want to talk to our kids about God, our faith, and what’s important to us. Many parents wonder where to start, though, and what to say. Other parents have expressed fear of not knowing how to answer the theological questions that may arise. With stories of prostitutes, murder, and dysfunctional families interspersed throughout the Bible next to more familiar stories, parents can wonder how to address these topics.
While I don’t have all the answers, several ways have worked for our family as we raise our sixteen-, thirteen- and almost four-year old. Our seventeen years of church and family ministry have been helpful as well. (Did you see the Talking to Your Preschooler About God post?)
Talking to Your School-Ager about God
- The Bible honestly tells it as it is. God shows us a person’s bad choices as well as their good choices. Just because an action is done in the Bible doesn’t mean it’s condoned or a good choice, or God’s way of doing things. The Bible shows when people mess up badly. Ask your kids: what should this person have done instead? What were the consequences here of their bad choice? We can witness the fall-out of generational cycles of deception, favoritism, and pride, for instance, in Genesis. In Judges, we see families and a nation spiral out of control when they forget what God’s word says about life and only do “what seems right in their own eyes.” Wow, can that get ghastly fast. That’s one whole point of the book of Judges, in fact, and by the end, there is no clear good guy or right choice in each story. What a dark, sad chronicle. God is an honest God.
- God is a master Restorer! He can take broken people, families and pasts and use them for his glory. He can take murderers, cheaters, liars, stuttering, fearful and broken people and work through them to talk to powerful world leaders and change history! He can use YOU.
- God loves YOU and wants to spend time with YOU. He is seeking you out, calling you by name, and has great adventures in store for you. Spend time with him, listening, talking with him, and reading his letters.
- It’s not Kid-sized! Students, you have a full-size Holy Spirit in you. The same Holy Spirit that was in the apostle Paul, that’s in Billy Graham and Brother Yun is in you. You don’t have to wait until you are grown up to do big things for God. He can do them in you today. Are you listening to Him, and tuned in? Practice hearing his voice, which will never contradict his spoken word.
- Recognize, parents, that you are not choosing a faith for your child. That is between them and God. But as a parent you definitely have something of value to pass on to them. Pray for them, love them, and enjoy times of sharing something that is of extreme value with them.
The school-age years in our kids’ lives are pivotal and life-changing years! Jump into these exciting times. Ask questions, spend a lot of time listening, and savor these years.
What about you? What was instrumental in your journey with God during the elementary and middle school years?