Earlier this spring, we dedicated our youngest in a Sunday morning church service. It was a sweet moment when even our toddler was included in the charge to raise up our daughter in the Christian faith. We stood before the church, the pastor held our baby girl to show her off to the congregation, and he shared words of wisdom, advice, and encouragement. We prayed together, asking God to help us as parents lead her into a life-giving relationship with Him. And I of course took lots of pictures of her in her sweet little dedication dress.
And while this moment was a milestone to celebrate and an important step in our roles as parents, I’ve come to realize the incredible impact that the little, mundane, routine moments of life can have on the faith formation of our children. While big moments certainly hold significance and should be celebrated (check out our milestone classes for help celebrating these big moments with families), it is the consistent incorporation of faith throughout our daily routines at home that truly shape our children’s spiritual journey. Everyone at the church saw the dedication, and even more people saw it when I shared pictures online, but the moments no one sees? Those will be the ones with the most long-term impact.
Christie Thomas from Little Shoots, Deep Roots shared this research on her Instagram account back in April 2023, highlighting the vital role that a parent’s faith plays in the development of a child’s faith. Research shows that spiritually-active parents who both walk the walk and talk the talk raise a higher percentage of children who are also active in their faith as young adults.
As a ministry leader, how are you partnering with parents in the discipleship of their kids? Celebrate the milestones in their lives, and then share these 10 ways families can incorporate spiritual habits and simple faith conversations at home:
- Morning Blessing: Start the day by gathering as a family and offering a simple morning prayer or blessing. Express gratitude for the day ahead and ask for God’s guidance and protection. Encourage your children to share their own prayers or express what they’re thankful for. This time doesn’t have to be super formal or long. At our house, we’ve been loving using this daily prayer calendar each morning at breakfast. I get my girls settled at the table with their breakfast, then I grab my phone to read the daily verse from the Bible app and we say the quick prayer prompt together. The whole thing takes less than 2 minutes, but (I hope) it’s instilling a habit of daily prayer for my littles.
- Mealtime Prayers: This one might be the easiest one! Before every meal, take a moment to pray together as a family. Encourage your children to take turns leading the prayer, expressing gratitude for the food, and asking for blessings on those in need. This practice cultivates a heart of thankfulness and acknowledges God’s provision.
- Car Rides: Families spend a lot of time in their vehicles, and the car is a great place to have faith conversations. Listen to a chapter of the Bible or a family devotion like Lectio for Families during the car rider line. Say a prayer for first responders and those involved when you pass an accident or see a firetruck drive by. Ask questions on the way home from church or school, inviting kids to share where or how they saw God.
- Prayer Walks: Take family walks around the neighborhood and turn them into prayer walks. Encourage your children to observe their surroundings and offer prayers for the people and places they see, whether silently or out loud. This activity helps children develop a heart for others and a habit of intercession.
- Gratitude Jar: Place a jar or container in a central location in your home. Throughout the day, encourage family members to write down moments of gratitude and place them in the jar. At the end of each week, gather as a family to read the gratitude notes and thank God together for His blessings.
- Worship Time: Set aside a designated time each day or each week for family worship. Sing songs of praise together, listen to uplifting worship music, or engage in creative activities like drawing or painting inspired by worship. This practice helps children develop a love for worship and a sense of God’s presence. My daughters love to dance, and we have fun with our worship dance parties as an afternoon activity!
- Service Projects: Engage in small acts of service as a family. Whether it’s baking cookies for a neighbor, donating gently used items to those in need, or participating in community clean-up efforts, these acts of kindness teach children the importance of serving others as an expression of their faith. You may even consider sharing a resource like this with your families to encourage them to do service projects together!
- Scripture Memorization: Choose short Bible verses or passages to memorize as a family. Repeat them together regularly, whether during car rides, meal times, or before bedtime, and place the verse(s) in a prominent place in your home (we stick ours on the fridge). Memorizing Scripture helps children internalize God’s Word and provides them with a foundation for their faith.
- Bedtime Reflections: During the bedtime routine, take a few minutes to reflect on the day with your children. Ask questions like, “What was something that made you happy today?” or “Did you notice something that reminded you of God’s love?” This encourages children to recognize God’s presence in their everyday experiences.
- Nighttime Prayer Routine: Establish a bedtime prayer routine that includes thanking God for specific blessings, asking for forgiveness for any wrongdoings, and praying for the needs of family, friends, and others. This routine instills a sense of security and peace, knowing that they are loved and cared for by a faithful God. Some prompts I’ve used when encouraging my toddler to pray include “Thank you God for… God, please help… God, I love you because you…”
These little moments of our daily routines can often provide the greatest opportunity to shape our children’s faith. While dedicating my youngest was a special day, I know that the real work of developing her faith happens at home, in these small habits and routines.