How to Teach Your Children About God | Lesson 1: Setting Atmospheres
Have you ever wanted to teach something to your children but felt like you didn’t have the tools to communicate in a way they would understand and remember? The truth is, the first church is the home, and the first pastors are you, the parents. Many parents I know have never worked with any children but their own. You might feel unequipped to lead your children in the things of God, and you might even think that as long as you take your children to church that the church will take care of everything for you. For years, I worked to create powerful services for children's ministries, and that is incredibly beneficial. But if what happens inside church does not happen in the home, it is not a lifestyle, and the children are at risk of believing Christianity is event based.
That’s why I want to empower you as the parent to teach your children about spiritual things--and it’s easier than you think! One of my favorite tools I often use when communicating an idea to my children is an object lesson. An object lesson is simply relating a concept to a tangible item that children can see and understand. This helps them to take more complicated ideas, that maybe otherwise they wouldn’t understand, and convert them into principles that they are already familiar with. For instance, I taught my daughter about how to create an atmosphere using the thermostat in our car as an example. It was a powerful example that ended up impacting our whole family as we put into practice this core value:
You can set the atmosphere that you want to have in your home.
When I was driving my daughter to school that day, she started asking me questions about why it was a different temperature inside the car than it was outside the car. I explained that I get to set the atmosphere in the car using the thermostat. If I didn’t set the thermostat, the temperature inside the car would eventually become the same as the temperature outside the car. I then explained that we get to be like thermostats in our life, our home, and our relationships. We get to choose and set the atmosphere that we want to have. Because we can choose and create our atmosphere, it doesn’t matter what is around us; our atmosphere can stay unchanged even when different atmospheres come near us.
This powerful object lesson has dramatically changed our home. As a family, we have decided what we want our atmosphere to be. When things like impatience or frustration start to creep in, we have permission to remind each other that we have chosen to have an atmosphere in our home that doesn’t include those. Our children even remind us when my wife and I make choices contrary to our family’s atmosphere. Your children are already world changers, and as you teach them how to create atmospheres, they will begin to impact your home and the world around them in powerful ways!
I encourage you to spend some time talking with the Holy Spirit about what kind of atmosphere you want in your home and in your relationships. A great place to start is Galatians 5:22-23, “The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control...” (NLT). Invite Him to renew your mind to fully grasp the power He has given you to be a thermostat, not just a thermometer, and practice intentionally setting the atmosphere you desire in your home!
You can take this example and implement it in your own home. Gather your children around the thermostat in your house and explain to them what a thermostat does. Then explain how each member in your family gets to be a thermostat—not for the temperature of the room, but for the atmosphere your home has. Throughout the week, as your heat or air comes on, remind everyone that they are thermostats of the atmosphere and begin to create this association in their minds.