Parents and grandparents develop a child’s journey with God as they share words of faith. Start early with these books.
United Methodist Publishing House
We often begin speaking to children while they are still in the womb, and immediately after a child is born we begin engaging with children verbally. Infants and toddlers are sponges for information and particularly attentive to language. Before nine-months-old, babies are easily able to distinguish between five different languages, and by the time they are three-years-old, children have heard up to 45 million words. But how many of these words have been about faith?
It is important to teach children everyday words such as ‘yes’ and ‘no’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ and ‘happy’ and ‘sad.’ But when do they begin hearing words of faith such as ‘God,’ ‘love,’ ‘Jesus,’ ‘church,’ ‘creator?’ Why not begin sharing words of faith from the beginning of a child’s life? Faith must be an imperative part of our sharing with children so that they, too, can be on a lifelong faith journey.
I recently heard a lecture by Dawn Rundman about ministry with babies and toddlers. She shared that we baptize our babies, but then wait until the age of three to send them to Sunday school. When we use this model, we miss important and formative years to share our faith with our children. Rundman also recognizes that it is hard work to be a parent and to have to add something else to our ‘parenting list’ can be daunting.
But you do not have to be a religious expert to share faith with your children. Sharing faith language with children can be done simply through reading Bible stories, looking at pictures and images, saying a prayer together, and reminding children that God loves them. Dawn also shared that infants and toddlers learn more from a face-to-face interaction than from a screen. Doing simple activities such as holding a child in your lap and reading him or her a story about God’s love will have formative faith implications.
Here are some suggestions of Bibles and books you might wish to read with your children:
Deep Blue Toddler Bible Storybook — Daphna Flegal and Kerry Blackwood
God Gave Us You — Lisa Tawn Bergren
Goodnight, Ark — Laura Sassi
Goodnight, Manger — Laura Sassi
My First Bible Stories — Tomie dePaola
Rock-a-Bye God Loves Me — Daphna Flegal
The Family Story Bible — Ralph Milton
~ A MinistryMatters.org feature. Ministry Matters is an online community of resources for church leaders developed by The United Methodist Publishing House.