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Many, many Bible curricula promise that our children will know and love Jesus and his Word if we use their program. We also diligently take our children to Sunday School, and maybe we discuss the day’s lesson afterward. Some of us may do morning devotions as a family as well. While there’s nothing wrong with any of these, the most powerful way to teach our children about Jesus is our living testimony. If we do not live what we believe, our children see Christian hypocrites and most likely, will walk away from their faith.
You don’t need another curriculum. What your children really need to hear is what God has done in your life yesterday and today. In Joshua 4: 1-9, God tells Joshua that each leader is to bring a stone and stack them where they camped as a remembrance of what God did at the Jordan River. We need to do this, too. If all you do is read Bible stories, how will your children recognize the unchangeable living God of today? They need to see your living testimony. They need to hear about the “pillars” of remembrance that you’ve built and I’ve built.
Your living testimony teaches your children about Jesus
Talking about Jesus all the time!
In Matt. 22:37, Jesus replied to the Pharisees from Deut. 6:4-7, “‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord Our God is the only Lord. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your mind and heart and with your entire being and with all your might. And these words which I am commanding you this day shall be first in your own minds and hearts; then you shall whet and sharpen them so as to make them penetrate, and teach and impress them diligently upon the minds and hearts of your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up.’”Ampl. Bible
The greatest commandment is not just to love God with all that we are. It also says that His words should penetrate us so deeply and fully that we are a living testimony to our children. We are so full of our love for Him, that we can’t help but talk about Him all the time! The Bible is so ingrained in our minds and hearts, that we are able to share appropriate passages with them as they are applicable in our daily lives.
Every time a situation comes up in your child’s life, a verse comes to mind. A relevant time of God’s faithfulness in your own life floods your memory and you can’t wait to share! Don’t underestimate the power of sharing your daily, living testimony with your children. If our relationship with Jesus Christ changes us forever, then we need to allow Christ to use us to draw our children into a transformational relationship also.
Our living testimony includes our need for a Savior
As we teach and disciple our children, we blow it sometimes. We exasperate each other. We say and do hurtful things. But, our children see real people fail and turn to Jesus, not wallow in despair or give themselves over to sin. They see our struggle with sin and our desperate need for Christ. Through our humility, prayer, and reconciliation, they understand their own need for Christ. And, they see authentic Christian life, not a shallow, two-dimensional, legalistic view portrayed by the media. Jesus uses our bumbling to show our children how we need Him every moment and why they need him, too.
Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet for your souls. For my yoke is useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant—and my burden is light and easy to be borne. Matt. 11:28-30, Ampl. Bible
Consequences of not following the Greatest Commandment
After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Judges 2:10
If we don’t share our stories of God’s faithfulness, our “pillars of remembrance,” our children might grow up thinking the Bible is just a book of stories and myths and God isn’t living and active. Or worse, they may deny that He exists at all. God told the Israelites to remember all that he had done for them and to tell their children about how he had rescued them and done marvelous wonders. But, they didn’t do those things and the children went after the gods of the people who lived around them. This sounds a lot like what is happening in our culture today.
In a recent Pew Research Study on religion, 51% of Millennials believe with certainty that there is a God, lower than all other age groups. Only 40% say that religion is very important in their lives, which was down 20% from their parents’ age group. For guidance on right and wrong, only 24% said they looked to religion. And the most shocking statistic is that 43% of Millennials surveyed believe that the Bible is NOT the Word of God!
Countless young people are leaving the church. These are children who grew up on Bible stories, grew up going to church and youth group. Why are they leaving? They don’t believe the Bible and they don’t see how Jesus is relevant or why they need Him.
Bible stories are not enough!
The importance of a Christian community
Even if we are sharing our living testimony, we have no power to save our children. Only Jesus can do that. I have met many brokenhearted parents who love Jesus and live their faith, yet their children left the church. Even so, we are commanded to teach and disciple our children. And, when we regularly invite other Christians into our homes to share what God is doing in their lives, it amplifies our own living testimony.
Imagine the impact of many parents demonstrating a living testimony of how God has been working in their lives! Imagine the impact on your own faith. I know that hearing other women talk about their struggles and how the Lord moved mightily in their lives has impacted me. These stories strengthen and encourage me. Don’t you think that your children would benefit just as much?
But, don’t rely on VBS or church youth group to provide this community. You need to initiate it in your own home. Invite a missionary over for dinner. How about a newly baptized believer? Powerful stories of transformation pulse throughout the Body of Christ. Find them and add them to your own. You will not only build your child’s faith, but your own.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Heb. 10:24 NIV
And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. Galatians 6:9 Ampl. Bible
To learn how you can reach the Millennial generation for God, click HERE.
To learn more about how to stop this alarming trend, click HERE.