We all grow up in a family that has its own culture. My family has operated a fireworks business for years. While growing up, a large part of my family culture involved buying, selling and shooting fireworks over the 4th of July season. I grew up with a sparkler in one hand and a torch in the other. My dad handing me a large item from the shelf to “test drive” was not uncommon. Learning how to safely light an artillery shell was just as important as safely crossing the street in my family. The 4th of July was more than a day of celebration; to us it was a season of family, friends, business, generosity and of course lighting as many fireworks as possible. This culture was part of my normal family environment, and I still love it.
As Christian parents, we should be showing our children a family culture filled with Christ and permeated with the Gospel. The culture of our families should be more than striving to maintain a good moral standing and church attendance. A Christian family culture is not just full of God’s Word and hearing the gospel on Sunday, but every day. The gospel brings lasting joy into a family, and Christ is the solid rock on which it should stand.
So how do we give the gospel to our children? How do we create a family culture filled with Christ? We speak constantly about Him, shower our kids in prayer to Him, and surround them with the Church that worships Him.
USE YOUR WORDS
All kids have questions. The way we answer their questions should, “always be gracious and seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6). Our speech should point back to Christ in all things, especially simple things. Why is the sky blue? God made it that way. Why do I have to do my homework? To honor Christ in all you do. When Christ’s name is in our simplest everyday speech, we remind our children that He is in control of the simplest of things along with the greatest of things.
I have yet to encounter a role in life where I must articulate the gospel as repetitively as I do in parenting. From the simple things to the big issues of sinning against one another, suffering, and discipline, I strive to speak the gospel to my children. Having to sit and search the scriptures for the reason God has put parents in authority over their children (Ephesians 6:1-4; Proverbs 1:8-9)) and then articulate that to my kids has been a great lesson for me. Sharing the gospel in words with my children is more than just telling them the beautiful story of Christ and hoping it sticks. Sharing the gospel is speaking it into each situation gently and with love. It is repenting to God and our children, which happens often with me, for getting angry as a parent and lashing out. Speaking the gospel is reassuring that God is in control of all things and working them together for His good purposes. The often overlooked benefit in all this gospel speaking is that I hear it too. I must know where to find the gospel in scripture and how I can articulate it with clarity. I can say without a doubt, until I had to speak the gospel over and over again in the course of a day to my two year old, I did not know how to speak it well to anyone else.
To create a family culture filled with Christ, we must pray with and over our children. The Bible tells us to, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). If prayer is not a regular part of your life as a parent, repent, seek counsel from your church if needed, and begin to pray. If your kids walk in on your praying, let them know what you are doing and by all means give them the opportunity to sit with you while you do it. Pray over them before bed. My oldest will request to be prayed over if it has been forgotten. It’s a beautiful and convicting thing. Pray for them when they stub their toe and scrape their knee. It doesn’t have to be long every time. A simple, “Jesus, make the pain go away and heal the scrape,” is perfect. It shows that Jesus is healer and able to do all things. Remind them when God has answered everyday prayers. Make time to pray with them over their friends and family. Teach them to sit and pray by sitting and praying with them.
BE IN HIS CHURCH
The people around us can greatly influence our family culture. God has designed it so that as believers we should be surrounded by one another. We are not to live in a bubble. We are to be a vital part of each other’s lives. Making it a priority to attend service, join a community group and actively engage in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ should be on the radar of every family. My children can see me engaging in God’s word on my own, but when they see and hear me dive into His word with other believers they see a fuller picture of what life should look like as a believer. Being involved in church on Sundays and beyond shows them that God is worth our time and being a part of His body is more than a once a week experience. Our children look forward to church, community group and activities as much as we do, because their community is found within the body too.
It is great to have fun traditions and events as part of our family cultures, like fireworks. But these are to not to be the whole and most important part of our families. As parents, we should be the ones to set the standard of what the heart of our family culture looks like. If we do not draw Christ into every aspect of life for our children we could miss the opportunity to show them the worth of God. We want them to see God for who He truly is, not what the world believes Him to be. So I plead with you parents, and those in the church body, immerse yourselves in a culture filled with Christ and permeated with the gospel. Because, what a great thing it would be when our children have families of their own to hear them say, “Christ filled the culture of my family, drew me to Himself as I grew up and I still love Him.”