Thoughts on Helping Our Kids Grow Spiritually-Part 1

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to raise spiritually healthy kids. I have three boys at home, two of which have Aspergers (a high functioning form of Autism). Cheryl and I are challenged on a regular basis to figure out ways to keep them engaged spiritually and looking for ways to help them process things from a biblical perspective. I find that many approaches to raising biblically healthy kids usually are either too complex to make them practical or involve making sure your kids attend the church regularly. Now all of these approaches are valid and have some good points to them, but in the day to day of a busy home with kids who are being asked to do more and more when it comes to school work, how do we practically develop the habits necessary to help them integrate their faith into their lives?

At the church I attend we have the five purposes as a paradigm for things to aim at as it relates to spiritual growth. Those five things are worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and mission and they come from the Great Commandment (Matthew 22) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28). These five things serve as the basis for what our children’s small groups process uses to train our kids. As Cheryl and I thought through this process we decided to look for ways we could make these five things visible in our own home and reinforce what they are already learning in their small group. Here are some things we have been doing on a regular basis:

We want to help our kids connect their lives to God and learn that worship is about bringing the moment by moment things of their lives to Him. As Romans 12:2 says,“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” Beyond talking to them about life and processing the things that are happening from a biblical worldview, we started praying a blessing over them every night as a part of our bedtime ritual. I will pray with each boy separately and pray Numbers 6:25-27 “ May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace. I also pray Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” I will then pray for the events of the next day and for their character. We started this about 4 years ago and today the kids are always making sure that I don’t forget to this. It has created a teachable moment and a way to worship God together on a daily basis.

Helping our boys learn to do relationships is quite a challenge especially when we have two boys who don’t understand all of the nuances of relating to people because of their Aspergers. Yet we want to make sure they know how to handle conflict and how to resolve the issues that can creep up in relationships. Beyond processing what happens in relationships on a regular basis we have set up two things we want them to catch: Confession and Forgiveness. James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” The ability to see a wrong that they have committed and confessing that to the person they have wronged is a huge piece of being able to have deep fellowship with others. Most conflict in relationships is due to the fact that people don’t know how and refuse to admit their part and apologize for it. Confession deals with the guilt we carry around in life and frees us from being ruled by it. Forgiveness is all about releasing the resentment we might have towards someone else. Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” We are to forgive as God through Christ has forgiven us. So we teach the boys to handle confession and forgiveness like this:

Confession: “I’m sorry I did ____________. Will you Forgive me?”
Forgiveness: “I forgive you for doing that. We are ok”

In doing this we are hoping that they catch the fact that they need to quickly release the guilt and resentment they could have in life and that relationships with others are worth healing and making right.

In Part 2, we will discuss the other three purpose areas and how we are trying to help our boys to see those things and live them out in their own lives. These are just starting points but we have seen some cool things start to happen in their lives as a result. What are some things you have done in the areas of worship and fellowship to help your kids grow?
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