I have taught in Children’s Ministry for 15 years now. In my experience in children’s ministry and church as a whole, I have noticed a pattern. As we share Jesus with children (and new believers), we tend to use the same verbiage over and over again. Some would use the term “Christianese” to describe the language used in Christian circles and in ministry.
This Christian language begins when our children are young. We start intentionally teaching the preschool-age children using and repeating specific language and key phrases. We choose specific truths from the Bible and repeatedly use those ideas to convey the message of Jesus.
“Jesus is your friend forever.”
“God loves you so much.”
“When you are afraid, you can trust Jesus.”
As the children grow older, we may beef-up our language.
“Do all things through Christ Who strengthens you.”
“You are covered in Christ.”
“Know who you are in Christ.”
Truth of Scripture- Yes!
All of the above key wording and expression of biblical ideas are wonderful and based on the Truth of Scripture. However, I have observed a shortcoming in our efforts to grow our children (and often new adult believers) in the Truth of Who God is. The apostle Paul reminds the early church in his letter to the Corinthians,
“I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.” 1 Corinthians 3:2
By the term “milk”. Paul is describing the way in which he initially shared the gospel with the Corinthian church. Specifically, that when he first shared the gospel with these new believers, he approached them with what they could digest at the time. The “milk” he shared were the fundamentals of the gospel.
An example of the milk we may share with children in our modern churches might be, “Jesus died on the cross so you can be in heaven with Him forever.”
Cornerstone Truth as the Foundation
The truth of the gospel and the truth of God’s love for His people is expressed in these simple expressions that we share with young children. These basic truths are incredibly valuable and the foundation of our faith. This basic language in a child’s vocabulary is crucial to deeper understanding of the gospel.
Paul himself would not have shared the “milk” of the faith in the infancy of the Corinthian church if it were not appropriate to do so. However, the pattern that I have seen often in the church community (and that includes me) is that we fail to move from “milk” of the gospel to the “meat.” This lack of depth was glaringly obvious in my own home one evening a few years back.
Our family was in a deep season of chaos, stress and growth. My daughters had both entered the world of navigating their own friendships. That evening one of my girls was struggling with a hurt relationship and feelings of rejection. It was one of those moments in my parenting journey that I’ll likely remember for a long time. How I wished that I could “fix” it and take away her pain! That power was and is not mine. I had to point her to Him.
What do we want our children to absorb?
Here’s the deal… our children are going to grow up soaking up a multitude of ideas. What do we want them to absorb? Do we want them to soak up the expectations of a world which tells them that to be valuable they need to be a certain size, wear a certain type of clothing, have the latest phone and avoid the uncool and unpopular in fear of being ostracized by their peers? What do we want our kids to believe about themselves?
Or as Christian parents, do we want them to know the beautiful truths of Scripture? Furthermore, don’t we want them to grow in their understanding of the foundational truths we began teaching them when they were preschool-age? We in the Christian community say that we want our kids to know the love of Christ and what it means to be in relationship with Him. As I realized in my own home, we need to be intentional if we want to truly equip them with a solid understanding of that knowledge.
As mentioned earlier, this lack of progress from spiritual milk to spiritual meat came clearly into focus a couple of years ago in my own home. One of my girls was navigating the painful feeling of rejection and had taken on that rejection as part of who she believed she was. “Who you are in Christ is what matters,” I told her. “Remember who you are in Christ,” I would implore with both of my girls.
Behind closed doors, I desperately prayed for both of my girls to know how loved they are by God. Earnestly, I pleaded with God to allow my children to know their value because of Jesus. I begged Him to make their faith their own, to please give them the gift of knowing who they were because of Him. Suddenly, it hit me. ‘Who am I in Christ? What exactly does that mean? Do I even know who I am in Christ, Lindsay? How do I expect my children to cling to that truth of their Identity in Christ if I am not exactly sure myself? I need to find the verses of Scripture that tell me more about my Identity in Christ.’
Did I Know My Identity in Christ?
I had been in church for almost three decades prior to that night. In depth Bible Study, line-by-line inductive study, was my jam for years. I knew a lot of truth and a lot of the Bible. In fact, I had chunks of Scripture memorized because my girls and I had made Scripture memory work part of our homeschool time. Yet, when it came down to it, I really wasn’t knowledgeable of my true “Identity in Christ.” Where did that phrase come from? How could I equip my girls to know deeply that their identity is found in Jesus alone? No longer were the illustrated picture story bibles going to do.
These resources had their place in my girls’ journeys (check out my favorite children’s Bibles here), but now they were ready for some “meat.” It was time to teach them to use God’s Word as the offensive weapon it has the power to be. They needed to guard their minds against the lies of this world. It was time to equip them on a practical level, with the Sword of the Spirit. That weapon, Scripture, is ours to use when we accept God’s free gift of salvation.
I was determined to find out exactly what Scripture says about me and my children and I was going to make sure my girls were confidently aware of who they were in Jesus. As far as my daughters were concerned, it was time to stop absorbing the lies of the world which told them that their value came from others. My girls were going to know their Identity in Christ and their mom was going to get some clarity as well.
On A Treasure Hunt
I spent my time researching Scriptures that would help us all understand who we are in Christ. Using those verses, I created a personalized printable of the Scriptures for each of my children. I framed and displayed them in their rooms. These reminders have been a source of strength for each of them as they navigate the world. Initially, I had them read aloud straight from the image so as to embed the truth deep in their minds. Repetition is an awesome and simple memory tool. To this day, when I sneak in their rooms to get one more snuggle before bed, I use it as a tool. I pray the Scriptures out loud over them.
Identity in Christ Scripture Download
Sweet Mom Friend, I am convinced that all of us need to know who we are in Christ and some times we need encouragement and practical tools to help us remember. I desire this for us all so that we may equip our kids to live in that freedom. I am convinced it is critical to develop an understanding of the specifics of our Identity in Christ (the meat that strengthens us further).
There are incredible blessings that come from knowing that our identity is based on Who Christ is and not on what the world says about us. However, it is almost impossible to recognize and live in that freedom if we don’t know what Scripture has to say about it. That is why I have created an Identity in Christ Scripture Art Set that I would like to share with you as you pour into your children. I have made these in the past for some of my students and it only makes sense to share with you, Precious Mom Friend. We are all in this together! Sign up below for your free downloads.
I hope they are a blessing to you and your family. Repeat them aloud at mealtimes and at bed time. Share them with one another in the car. May God’s Word be the loudest voice you and your family hear each day. Do you have any creative ways and ideas that have helped you and your family deepen your faith? Please comment below and share. We are in this together!
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