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5 Biblical Ways to Engage with Children Today

5 Biblical Ways to Engage with Children Today

Children. The little ones we love, teach, and discipline. The ankle biters who have a way of bugging us, as much as they do of loving us. They turn to us with smiles, stares, and tears. We look at them with grins, frowns, and silly faces. There’s no doubt that children carry a special place in our hearts, whether or not any belong to us. There’s also no doubt that children today are facing many attacks from the enemy. Day by day, I find myself ever more concerned about the children in my community. Those in public schools, in daycares, those being raised by parents who don’t fear the Lord. Sometimes I even wonder about those in church. I find myself thinking about the children beyond my community, those in my country, and children across the world.

What was once considered good parenting – corporal punishment, grounding, strict discipline – is now at best questionable. And what was considered bad parenting – teaching children about race, sexual immorality, and trying to be your child’s friend – are considered acceptable.

Too many children today are being raised in these conditions by adults who aren’t bringing them closer to God. Instead, the next generation continues to give meaning to the Christian expression, “to be in the world but not of it.”

What will I tell my children about the world today? What will you tell yours? The ones we teach, see, or the ones in our families?

Furthermore, considering what children are faced with today, should Christians continue to have them, or should they wait for safer times?

Raising children well today isn’t easy, but God doesn’t need easy to do His work. Here are 5 ways to engage with children today.

1. Listen

“My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger,” (James 1:19)

Is there any significance to God giving us one mouth and two ears? Possibly. One truth is more certain, the ability to listen is vital for any relationship. Romantic, friendly, even parental.

For starters, listening to our children will give us insight into what they are being taught. Children today are learning that the misconception of race is important, that they can choose their gender, that divorce is encouraged. Not every child will accept these ideas, but we won’t know what they believe without listening.

We could remain unaware of their values, politics, beliefs, even what they think of God.

Besides gaining practical insight, practicing good listening also models that behavior for children. As adults, we value being heard. We want our spouses to hear, our bosses, coworkers, even our children. We want God to listen to us. This is all the more reason to show them the power of being heard.

We won’t know what our children are learning unless we ask. We won’t know what they believe, what values they hold, or what they think of God.

2. Talk

“Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)

As the saying goes, “You won’t know unless you ask,” but listening is only part of communication. We should also spend time talking to children about our own beliefs, politics, and faith. We shouldn’t just tell them what we think, but why. They aren’t always quick to ask questions, so they may not learn unless we share.

As a dance teacher, confidence is one concept I try to instill in my students. I explain to them that in hip-hop, individuality is valued even in group dances, giving them all the more reason to express themselves. Of course, teaching children involves more than choreographed movements.

We remind them constantly to give thanks. We tell them every ten minutes that we love them. We tell them how much God loves them. No matter what we tell them, we should explain to them why what we say is true. Relying on them to automatically understand our teachings leaves them open to other possibly deconstructive ideas.

3. Gently Guide

“Start a youth out on his way; even when he grows old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

“Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

Sometimes we as adults are faced with a barrier when talking to children. We don’t want to overstep boundaries, conflict with another adult, or are simply afraid of how the child might react. This is why some parents put off telling children about sex, or why some teachers won’t challenge mainstream ideas like race and sex.

Just as we hope to learn what's true, we should do the same for children. We were once young, impressionable, and dependent on others to guide us. Why would today’s children be any different? Someone will guide them, and that someone could be us. Or that someone could be social media, peers, politics.

Fear is not a good reason to remain silent because God has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). If we can then overcome our own insecurities, we can do a better job guiding children in the way they should go – toward God.

As we teach them, we should also make an effort to gently guide them. This is especially true when those children don’t belong to us. Asking questions and posing alternative viewpoints are great ways to challenge preconceived notions without causing conflict.

4. Discipline

“The one who will not use the rod hates his son, but the one who loves him disciplines him diligently.” (Proverbs 13:24)

Discipline is such an important word, but one with many negative connotations today. Adults are encouraged to give children a ton of options with very limited consequences. Children need discipline. Adults need discipline. There are consequences for our actions, consequences that manifest physically, and sometimes emotionally.

Since there are consequences for our choices, we have to practice good discipline. For ourselves, and for our children. When people sinned in the Bible, God offered forgiveness and grace, but there were also stipulations made. We needed to forgive others, and we needed to repent of our sins. That’s what Jesus told His followers time and time again. That was even His message to the Gentiles, like the adulteress about to get stoned.

Discipline doesn’t need to be pretty. What God allowed to happen to the Jews as discipline was not always pretty, but His discipline was effective. We’re still learning biblical lessons today!

5. Be Fruitful and Multiply

“God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)

Should Christians have children of their own today? For some, the answer is an immediate yes, but for others, there is an intentional pause. No matter which one describes you, we can turn to the Bible for our answer – yes!

According to Scripture, there is “nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). In the Bible itself, the Jews underwent times of significant peril: slavery in Egypt, being lost in the wilderness. The lineage of the Jews didn’t cease just because of their circumstances. They faced their situations with prayer, repentance, patience, and the list goes on. All the while they worked together as a community to continue, at times being led by various leaders: David, Solomon, Paul, Jesus. And they were always led by God. He never abandoned them. He won’t abandon us. Not today. Not ever.

Therefore, as we engage our children, those in our families, at our jobs, in our neighborhoods, we can do so confidently, lovingly, and in a godly manner. We can tell them that the world is oftentimes an awful place, but the world doesn’t dictate their fate. Instead, they can do all things through Christ who strengthens them (Matthew 19:26).

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Nadezhda1906 

aaron brown profile pic bioAaron D'Anthony Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes work to iBelieve, Crosswalk, and supports various clients through the platform Upwork. He's an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo. Check out his short story “Serenity.”