Profound Influence: COVID-19 offers time for family discipleship; resources available

In February, Heritage Baptist Church in Montgomery became the first Alabama Baptist church to offer a family Bible study focus using “Moments with God,” by Alabama author and pastor Rob Jackson.

Heritage Baptist utilized the 42-day, parent-led study to promote in-home discipleship among families with preschool through elementary aged children as part of their 2020 “Who’s Your One” focus.

Jennifer Foster, children’s minister at Heritage, said the church realizes that a parent’s primary “one” lives in their home, so they worked intentionally to provide families with tools for sharing the gospel and discipling children.

On February 2, Heritage hosted a “Who’s Your One at Home” breakfast during the LifeGroup (Sunday school) hour, leading families through the LifeWay Christian Resources video series, “Settle for Nothing Less.” The one-hour research-based seminar is designed to teach parents about the 10 greatest influencers of their children’s spiritual health.

Primary faith trainers

Geared toward helping parents understand their role as the primary faith trainer for their children, the series highlights a child’s reading of the Bible as the number one influence toward spiritual growth.

Foster said families with preschoolers and younger children received free copies of “Moments with God”; families of students were given “Next: Growing a Faith that Lasts,” by Andy Blanks.

“Moments with God” explores the greatness of God and is designed for parents to do at home daily with their children, Foster noted.

Teman Knight, pastor of Heritage and longtime friend of Rob Jackson, said the study was a natural fit for the church’s discipleship program.

“We want parents and children to use this study to know God more together,” Foster said. “Most Christian parents know they should be the primary faith trainer in their children’s lives, but often they are unsure about where to begin. ‘Moments with God’ gives them a beginning point to read God’s word together, talk about God’s word together and pray together.”

As churches strive to reach the members of Generation Z, Foster said studies like “Moments with God” lay a foundation for parents to help their children begin to read the Bible together and to talk about spiritual truths.

“Having those conversations when their children are little equips parents to continue those conversations as their children age,” Foster said. “Learning to read the Bible as a child has a profound influence on continued spiritual growth into adulthood.”

‘Equip for discipleship’

Foster added grandparents also benefit from the study.

“These sweet folks are the primary faith trainers for their grandchildren for a variety of reasons. We were so grateful that they came to learn how to disciple their grandchildren,” Foster added.

She said the church provides resources and seminars throughout the year as part of their LifeStones ministry to help parents capture milestones in their child’s life and to point them to Jesus.

“We equip parents to disciple their children with resources appropriate for each milestone. ‘Who’s Your One at Home’ was an expression of our ongoing LifeStones ministry,” Foster said.

Additional resources:

Missions discipleship materials for children from WMU

LifeWay Bible study resources for children

Bible reading plans for families

YouVersion Bible app for kids

Parent Cue

The Laugh and Learn Bible for Kids

Adventures in Odyssey audio stories

How to lead a child to Christ

Leading a child to a salvation decision is exciting but can also be intimidating. Don’t give into your fears.

Remember that while God has called you to share this message, it’s the work of the Holy Spirit that leads a child to give his or her life to Christ.

To that end, parents can continually look for natural ways to engage children in spiritual conversations, asking and answering questions in teachable moments.

When they ask questions, pray first. Then, invite the Holy Spirit to work with you as you share.

Consider these tips from WMU:

1. Be conversational. When counseling one-on-one with a child, be conversational. Ask open-ended questions, then listen closely to the child’s reply. Questions to ask a child might include:

  • Who is Jesus?
  • What is sin?
  • What is a Christian?
  • Why do you want to become a Christian?
  • How do you feel? (Sometimes the feelings we have are God’s way of speaking to us.)
  • What has led you to start thinking about becoming a Christian?
  • How long have you wanted to be a Christian?

2. Use the Bible. During the conversation, show the child verses in the Bible. Slowly explain the following verse to the child.

Verses you may need:

  • 1 John 4:10 (God loves you.)
  • Romans 6:23 (Sin separates us from God.)
  • Romans 5:8 (Christ died for us.)
  • Romans 3:23 (Everyone sins.)
  • 1 John 1:9 (Confess and ask for forgiveness for sin.)
  • Acts 16:31 (Believe and be saved.)
  • Romans 10:9 (Follow Jesus.)

Use language that children can understand to describe what each verse means. Avoid using abstract concepts. For example, instead of saying “giving your heart to Christ,” say “Give your whole self — your actions and your thoughts — to Christ.”

3. Avoid pressure. Ask the question, then listen. Don’t push for a decision.

4. Continue the conversation. Talk about Jesus naturally as much as possible, and answer questions your kids might have. Talk about the character of God. And lead by example. Let your life be a testimony to what living in the grace of Christ looks like each day.

(Women’s Missionary Union, TAB contributed)