By Laurèn Heffner, Redeemer Kids Director
Setting the Tone:
What did Easter mean to you as a child?
I have this crazy idea that Easter should be the most celebrated time of the year – even more than birthdays, vacations and other holidays on our calendar. But it only sounds crazy because Easter is often reduced to celebrating spring with pastels and jelly beans. Meanwhile, other parts of our calendar reflect the stuff we really want – time off, gift exchange, family getaways, etc. The key is that all of this IS good, but Jesus is better.
As Easter approaches, we want to look forward to the worship that engages us in God’s story. In the midst of Jesus’ triumphant entry, the Passover meal, the events leading up to the cross, and the ultimately glorious resurrection, my desire is for all of us to be completely immersed.
It occurred to me as we were planning for Palm Sunday on the Kids’ hallway at Redeemer that there are so many ways to allow this time to be trite or cute at best. And what a waste that would be! Every ounce of effort by parents and caregivers toward making followers of Jesus is worth more than money can buy. So instead of allowing the culture to set the tone for Easter, let us all draw near to the cross and invite these precious kids to come with us.
Testing the Soil of the Home:
If you collected every moment spent together with family and stepped back to see the big picture, how have these moments shaped your view (or your kids view) of home?
We know all families have 24 hours in a day, and on top of that we have 24 more hours of potential work to do in the same day because lists have a habit of growing. Tending to the heart is one of the most underrated, easily forgotten parts of the day – even if you crossed off the word “devotion time” on your list. And yet it will make or break every single waking hour.
Jerry Bridges said, “Preach the gospel to yourself every day.” That means in the morning I must remember: I was dead in my sin, I had no hope; my debt is paid, I am free because Jesus took every corner of guilt, every valley of shame; He rose from the dead, and I’m alive today in relationship with my Father in heaven. Every part of my work and my relationships has eternal value to which no earthly definition of success could compare.
If I recall this, it will not only uplift my spirit, it will prompt me to forgive my spouse, it will let love overshadow the weaknesses and failures of others, it will humble me to ask forgiveness or to see my own weakness and failures knowing that God is strong. It will make me bold to invite people into my life; it will not be silent. The gospel changes everything, every day.
It will change all the collective moments I have in relationship with my family – it will change the dynamic of my home. Jesus changes everything, every single day.
So even without 101 ideas for helping kids see Jesus in the Easter season, if you just make it a priority to apply the gospel to your heart each day, throughout the day, you are already celebrating the gift of life in God’s kingdom. And beyond that, you are also inviting your kids to experience God’s goodness by your example.
Watering the Seeds:
How can parents and caregivers create gospel-moments with kids at home?
Instead of compartmentalizing the gospel into specific times or conversations, if we preach it to ourselves throughout the day, it will be like an aroma infusing our thoughts and words. All kinds of opportunities will sprout because recalling the truth of saving grace throughout the day is like amending the soil of your soul so that good things can grow.
If you are new to training your kids as Christ-followers, the following is a list of practical ideas and resources:
1 – Partner with Redeemer Kids by talking with your child’s leader on Sundays and connecting with our ministry on social media. We want to keep parents updated on what kids are learning as well as the events coming up so everything parents need to know will be on our Instragram @redeemerkidshd and our Facebook page, Redeemer Church Kids’ Ministry.
2 – Ask your kids what memory verse(s) they are learning. See if they can look it up themselves. Even if a child is in Pre-K, you can still show them how you turn pages starting with the Table of Contents with all of the books, turning to the page you need.
Always show them how you get there. As they get older you can make it a game of who can find the page first.
3 – Ask the leaders in your child’s classroom what book of the Bible they are in. Read parts of that book in the morning or evening with your family and as your child remembers the lesson, discuss the ways it applies to your life. We like to ask lots of questions to get them thinking!
4 – Pray regularly with your kids. Use the Prayer Adventure booklet (provided at our Welcome Window) or purchase a resource like A Book of Prayers for Kids: Ways to Talk to God Every Day by Mel Lawrenz.
5 – Join the life of the church and allow kids to be immersed in the lives of other families that meet or serve together alongside your family.
6 – One of our group leaders, Staci Gaspar, recommended a podcast, Jesus Is Better: Bible Stories With Gospel Joy. You can also find some of RC Sproul’s books for children on YouTube with his voice reading the story.
7 – Sing together! Your kids have been learning songs on Sunday from DVDs like Seeds of Courage. The Seeds Family Worship company set Bible verses to music so that it is easy to remember their verses. If you keep these in the car and set the tone of your home with music like this, it will be much easier to remember your desire for purposeful conversations.
Finally Brothers and Sisters:
How do you see the good news of life in Christ transforming your life today?
Whatever you do with this season, let it be a joy for your family to experience from the inside out. Minister to your heart by preaching the gospel to yourself over and over. Let that be an outpouring of love in your home. If you do that, you will experience eternally significant change.
And that picture of grace you are painting for your family to see in your life will be an attractive light for your kids to witness and be blessed.