Parenting–Keeping it Fun!

Teaching Children to Enjoy the Christian Life

Too many people operate under the misconception that the Christian life is boring. Having been a child of God for over a quarter of a century, and having been a pastor for 18 years, I can assure you that the Christian life is anything but boring!

Have you noticed that our kids tend to love the things that we love? I’m a rabid Red Sox fan, so are my children. Our kids generally share our appreciation for avocations because they see in us (1) a passion for it, (2) a willingness to invest time in it, and (3) a sense of enjoyment because of it.

As a matter of fact, I never endeavored to formally “convert” my children into Red Sox fans. We never sat around the table for 15 minutes a night and read articles about the team. Nor did we memorize important statistics to be recited on queue. No, we kind of just talked about it a lot, and watched a lot of games, and played a lot of ball ourselves.

Too many parents make the mistake of compartmentalizing the Bible and Christian activity to certain predefined times and locations. Lest you misread, I am for faithfulness to church and its programs, and I am for a regimented devotional time with the kids, especially when they are younger. But I am concerned about the “going through the motions” way by which we often conduct these activities.

Let’s take devotions for instance: When our kids were small, our nightly regimen for devotions included three parts.

1. I would read a short Bible passage and then tell them the story in my own words. What could be more exciting than a blow-by-blow, acted-out narration of David and Goliath? How could any red-blooded American kid not enjoy the exploits of Samson or the courage of the three Hebrew boys? The problem is not with the Bible; it is with the lackluster way by which we approach and communicate it.

2. I would tell them a story about me when I was their age. Each night a different child could choose an age (typically they would select their own age), and I would tell them a story about my life when I was that age. They laughed uproariously as I shared my wetting-my-pants story when I was in third grade. With suspicion they questioned whether I really almost drowned when I was ten. We talked about tender moments like the time our dog died. We talked about joyful moments like the time our cat died. (Just kidding—lighten up!) You get the idea. “Dad is a real guy who was/is just like me, and God is a very real part of his life too.”

3. We would finish the night on a high note as I would tell them a story about four helpless children (I have four children) alone in a forest or cave or tent somewhere. The details would change nightly but the story would always end the same way: some monster/ogre/carnivorous animal would attack (tickle) and devour (hugs and kisses) its prey (my children).

The kids are not really kids anymore. Monster stories have been shelved until grandkids arrive. But I think they still know that Dad has a real God. I don’t think the Bible is boring to them. And hugs have not become passé.

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