When I moved to Los Angeles, I never thought I would have over two months of parenting that looked so much like Swiss Family Robinson and Little House on the Prairie. But, here we are. We’re working at home, eating at home, playing at home, and gardening at home. We’re doing all the BLESS rhythms, but we’re doing them within the 2,000 sq. ft. parameters of our property.
This is an incredible moment where we can make decisions: Will we just try to survive these times, or will we try to thrive within them? Will we try to get through it as distracted as possible, or will we seize the time with intentionality?
Before you jump straight into the the “thrive” answer, consider the costs. If you pursue intentional discipleship with your kids, it will require more attention. It will require more energy. It will require more disappointment. It will rarely look like a sweet Instagram photo and it will hardly feel like you’re making an incredible gospel impact. All of my kids have yelled at me today and I’ve yelled at them, too. That’s real life. But that’s also where Jesus isn’t a bonus added onto our lives, but is the sustainer and substance of our lives.
Most of the transformation in your kids will be unseen. Honestly, it will feel a lot like loving your neighbors and co-workers when you glimpse them getting it, but also lots of times when they clearly are not. Living with gospel intentionality with your kids is the best training for living on mission to others. In fact, if you aren’t doing it with your kids yet, don’t start with your neighbors until you have.
If you’re still excited about seizing the opportunity to disciple your children during COVID-19, there are a few principles that my wife and I are clinging to and several resources we’ve found to be great sources of encouragement to us, our kids, and our family times.
1. Pursue Jesus and Listen to the Spirit
To be discipled and make disciples, we need the power of the Spirit to work through our entire being. We’ve decided we can’t neglect our time with Jesus each morning. We need to grab the Bible before our phones. We need to pray before we start e-mails. We need to apply the gospel to our hearts more than ever.
2. Teach Your Kids to Pursue Jesus
We try to listen to our kids and let them know they are loved by us. We forgive them. We care for them. We do what most parents try to do. Something we’re focusing on right now is cultivating their relationship with Jesus because Jesus cares even more for them, Jesus loves them even more, and Jesus has done everything to restore their hearts. We try to do this by giving each child an age-appropriate Bible to read and encouraging them to pray. We also do this by allowing our kids to see us reading our Bibles and praying. Our youngest reads The Jesus Storybook Bible, our middle child reads Action Storybook Bible (younger kids), and our oldest reads the NIV Adventure Study Bible and The Action Bible.
3. Pursue Key Moments of Focus on Jesus
We start each day by doing “circle time” on the floor in our living room. We start by reading a story from The Jesus Storybook Bible and discuss the key things that come up. Then we do a feelings check-in. Then we pray. The whole thing lasts about 15 minutes. But it’s a moment we’ve decided to create where we listen to God together. Often, the dog is running around us. Often, we’re telling our kids to sit up. Often, we’re distracted. We’ve also found the Story of God for Kids and The Gospel Basics for Kids to be great tools to make these moments even better. Gospel Basics for Kids gives you an entire lesson, color sheets, songs, and activities you can do as a family that roots everyone in the gospel. Winfield Bevins’ book, Grow at Home, is also great guide to family discipleship.
4. Welcome the Unplanned Moments
The best conversations about Jesus don’t happen during “devotionals” or “quiet times,” but after fights, during discipline, while kicking a ball around outside, or pulling weeds from the garden. I’ve found the quarantine has removed many of the hustle and bustle of our lives. My mind is freer and my heart is more ready for these chance encounters with my kids when we marvel at creation, weep over brokenness, or celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Mirela, my wife, has found Lacy Borgo’s book, Spiritual Conversations with Children to be a huge help!
You also might be feeling completely new to this whole thing. In fact, it’s pretty easy to be a parent for years without really processing your role as a mother or father. We all need a regular reminder of our calling as parents with a view towards Jesus, His Story, and His mission. If that’s where you are, this study on parenting through the lens of the Proverbs is an excellent resource.