by Philip Hahn/ June 21, 2016
Give a child a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a child how to fish and he will eat the rest of his life. This concept has become my foundational philosophy of ministry. Curriculum and programs are important. But if we want kids to digest the biblical information they receive so they actually internalize it into their lives, they have to take ownership of it. Ownership does not come from the pages of a teacher’s manual. Internalizing the Bible message actually has nothing to do with the message itself.
We should teach the Bible message, but we should not be the main source of spiritual intake for our children. If we are, what will they do when we fail them? We aren’t there at the lunchroom table or the playground or when they move out of state. We, and our precious programs, cannot be the foundation upon which their faith is built.
How then can we be their spiritual authorities? We teach them to develop their own personal walk with the Lord. If they learn to feed themselves, God will care for them when we cannot. We train kids to look to Jesus for their solutions and trust in God’s Word to guide them because we will not always be there, but Jesus will.
Internalization is found in the four basic spiritual habits that we must implement into a person’s life outside of the church service. They need to take these four essentials and live their faith at home or they are simply going to live out our faith until something better comes along.
One: Daily intimate prayer. Teach kids to have a conversation with Jesus. Teach them how to worship, intercede, petition, and listen. More than asking for things, prayer is quality time with God. Help them find a specific place and time where they can implement a daily habit of prayer, and hold them accountable.
Two: Daily Bible study. Teach them how to read the Bible for themselves. How will they recognize truth among so many messages fighting for their attention? They need to go to the source. Again, hold them accountable with a time and place.
Three: Worship. Worship is who we are, not just something we do. It’s more than singing, it’s giving God our all. Bible reading and prayer can be an obligation if not done out of love and devotion to God. Teach them how to submit everything in their lives as a living sacrifice to an awesome God.
Four: Church. It’s not a building or an event you attend on Sunday. Church is people. Teach them that the church is not what saves you but it is what sustains you. Without a community of people encouraging you and keeping you accountable, you can easily fall. Connect kids relationally with healthy spiritual friendships.
Connect kids with Jesus and they will internalize what you teach because now they know how personal Jesus is.