Demonstrating Faith to this Generation
-Barth and Sally Middleton
God is pushed out of the lives of so many of today’s children. Schoolteachers consciously avoid mentioning Him. On TV and in many homes His commandments are blatantly violated. Schedules are packed with nonreligious activities.
While teaching children the lesson of the woman at the well, we read to them Jesus’ words, “…you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband” (John 4:18). Then we asked, “Is that okay or is that a sin?” The number of “okay” responses about equaled the number of “sin” responses. Amy, age eight, set the class straight by shouting, “Wait! It’s a sin! It’s breaking a commandment but I can’t remember if it’s number six or number seven!”
For many children the story of the Samaritan woman resembles their homes. Amber arrived one day, excited to tell us about all the new furniture in her house because “Dad’s girlfriend moved in over the weekend.” How are kids like Amber going to realize their need to depend on God for direction, strength and peace?
Each lesson you present is important but the greatest impact will come through the various ways you demonstrate your faith. Say with Paul, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).
Opportunities for Relationships
This generation puts relationships above everything. Find a way to speak about God in ordinary conversation so children sense you see Him as part of all you do.
Mandy stopped by our house to remind us that her school field trip was the next day. We talked about thanking God for being able to go. We discussed how someone in her class might need a special friend to sit with on the bus and how that would be a great way to show God’s love.
Children we teach like to come to our house—they’re curious to see how we live. They notice Scripture verse pictures on our walls, Bibles beside our favorite chairs and bookcases full of Christian books. They rearrange our refrigerator magnets and read their messages. What would children see in your house? Take the challenge we were given years ago. Place items in strategic places in your home so that wherever a guest sits he sees something that reveals your faith. Then invite children over individually and in groups. They may have never experienced casual conversations about God or even imagined family members who show love and respect for one another.
Host a Neighborhood Bible Club
Consider the great impact you could make by hosting a neighborhood Good News Club®. As a young club member walked by our house he didn’t see us sitting on our screened porch. We heard him say to his friend, “Here’s where we come to learn about God.” Another day while talking with some girls from our club we speculated on what kind of a house they would have someday. Though describing mansions unlike anything in our neighborhood they encouraged us by saying, “Of course, we’ll have room for Good News Club on Wednesdays.”
So many kids live on shifting sand. You play an important role in their lives by faithfully teaching in the same place, year after year. A few weeks ago we rejoiced when three kids we had led to Christ reappeared in club. We heard they had been with Mom, then Dad, now an aunt. We were teaching how God answers prayer. Brandon said, “I’ve been praying but God said no. I wanted to stay here so we could keep coming to club but the next week we’ve got to go back to Dad’s.”
In that same hour we were talking about God’s love and asked, “How do you know we love you?” Brandon said, “Because you’re here to teach us about God every Wednesday.” Demonstrate faithfulness!
To evaluate if children are adopting our faith, we interviewed children as they pretended to be someone else. Listening to their on-the-spot responses was both enlightening and entertaining. Jessica, age ten, chose to be “age 20 and in love!” One question we asked was, “If your boyfriend says, ‘I don’t want to go to church; I’m not interested in that stuff!’ what should you do?” Her first response was “I’d go anyway!” We added, “Anything else?” to which she promptly stated, “Dump him!”
Cameron, age nine, selected “Pretend you are a grandpa.” When asked, “When did you first begin to believe in God?” he described “this club he went to as a kid” and gave his salvation testimony. Yea! Then we asked, “Name a couple ways God has helped you all these years.” He said, “He gave me a long life and not too many wrinkles!”
Connecting kids to a current missionary shows them faith in action, especially in trials. Our club kids love “Miss Beth.” They asked God to help her when she left her family to return to South Africa. They clapped when her wrecked car was replaced. They said, “We have money! We can help!” and gave an extra offering when they learned thieves stole her telephone wires (twice!), disrupting our e-mail communication. Beth tells the children of the peace God gives her, the prayers He has answered, new needs and her contentment—even when it’s hard to be away. What missionary do you know who could interact with your kids?
Elevate God’s Word
Always make God’s Word the real focus! Today’s kids need to be reminded that the Bible is absolute truth. While teaching a seminar workshop we mentioned students in our clubs tell us the Bible lesson is their favorite part of the hour. Afterwards a lady said, “My kids never tell me that. They like games and treats and crafts. How can I get them to respond the way your students do?”
We quickly analyzed what the difference might be and told her we often preface the lesson by enthusiastically saying, “Now we’re ready for the best part!” We carefully include application in each lesson and interaction with the children by asking important questions. We insert statements like, “Is this really true?” and “How do you know this really happened?” We give the Bible lesson the largest amount of our preparation time. She said, “I don’t do any of that. Maybe if I get more excited about that part they will, too!”
You cannot remove all the opposition that distracts this generation from living for God. But you can demonstrate that Christians are to stand firm and give themselves fully to Him.