Moody Faculty Member Recognized
For more than 130 years, Moody Bible Institute has been about changing the lives of men and women . . . but also children. Elizabeth Smith heads Moody’s Children’s Ministry undergraduate program in Chicago. Each spring, Elizabeth organizes a student-led, community-wide conference on children’s ministry. I caught up with her and asked for some “tips” for parents and/or grandparents who want to bring their faith home to the children they love.
“Always keep in mind,” Smith said, “that modeling is always going to be the most important thing in helping children understand and want to embrace God’s love.” She shared three ways we can help our children see us model our faith.
First, we can put on Christian music. It can be background music as you’re spending time with your children at home or in the car. You can sing along with them. Smith even suggests creating your own music. Based on a verse or biblical concept, a “homemade” song can help children learn and sing of God’s love and character.
My wife and I are very music and voice-challenged. However, we made up a “Blessing Song” that we sang to our oldest daughter. When daughter number two came around, Kari, our oldest, would sing with us as we “blessed” our newest daughter, Laura. They didn’t care how bad the song sounded. They got the idea that God and we “blessed” them!
Second, Smith suggests keeping lessons simple and focused. With children, especially younger children, less is often more. For example, Psalm 103 lists over a dozen things that reflect God’s love for us (“Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases . . . ”). Instead, try sharing just one way Jesus loves us. For example, in that same psalm, we’re told that the “lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 103:17).
One way to illustrate that God’s love is always around us is to have your child blow up a balloon. (Balloons are choking hazards so help them if they’re younger.) Don’t tie the balloon, but instead release it and let it fly across the room. Once the children are out of wind from doing this several times, ask, “Can you see the air that’s inside a balloon?” Of course they can’t. But then say, “We can’t see Jesus either. But just like air, God is there for us always.”
Third, look for ways to discover what your child or grandchild is learning in Sunday School and church. Connect these lessons with something you’re doing at home. Get to know and say “thank you” to those at church who, like you, are leaning into your loved one coming to Jesus!
What great tips on cultivating faith from an outstanding professor here at Moody! Elizabeth Smith’s “NEXT Children and Family Ministry Conference” is held each spring, planned and hosted by students in the Children’s Ministry program at Moody Bible Institute. Learn more about the NEXT conference here.
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