God Talk: Awakening Curiosity

19 04 2016

Dive into any topic far enough and you’ll get overwhelming feelings. Dive into technical discussions about God and your head will spin! Let’s keep this simple. GOD IS GOD and we are not. When talking about God in your family or with the family of God, don’t turn it into a competition of who knows more. Don’t feel inferior for knowing less. Just keep the conversation going. This week, when you’re around a child, ask them what they think God is like. Then, without correcting them or agreeing with them, simply say, “Hmmm.”

Theology is talk about God.

-Rolf A. Jacobson

“If…they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”

-Exodus 3:13-14

When we come to conversations about God, we do well to maintain a humble posture. Especially with children. When talking about God with children, if we try to act knowledgeable, our words will sail over their heads and they’ll move on to something else. So speak simply. Remain in awe. Admit that you don’t fully understand. Tell them that you’re okay with it.

Competition

When talking about God becomes a competition, everyone loses. You lose when you dominate another person’s point of view. You lose when you back away because you think you don’t know enough. I’d rather view this as a quest over a competition.

Conversation

Just talk. Enjoy the ride. Make statements, but also ask questions. Be an exceptional listener. The simple lead, “Tell me more about that,” invites further dialogue and opens up diverse perspectives. Now I’m not saying that you simply accept whatever opinion is shared. We can disagree, but let’s do it respectfully and with the desire to honour the relationship.

Curiosity

Be continuously curious. I think that’s how God created us to be and so we should be. Get out there and explore. Challenge ideas. Invite wonder. Say, “Hmmmm,” and just linger for a moment. With young children these conversations will be fleeting and quick, but the more you stoke a child’s innate sense of curiosity the better you propel them toward a lifetime of seeking God. Conversely, the more you shut down ideas with your own domineering convictions, the less likely children will grow up with a desire to express their own opinions.

Lord, I want to bask in the wonder of YOU.





Kid Talk: Four Ideas for Increased Connection

14 04 2016

Speaking with children is a bit of an art. As adults, we spend a lot of time thinking and speaking with our adult vocabulary. Children need simple words, shorter sentences, essential truth and vivid examples. This isn’t too difficult to accomplish, but takes some conscious thought and consistent effort. Just talk. Keep it simple. No need to baby-speak. Don’t muddy the waters with complicated ideas. Pass on what is most important. And, by the way, learning the habit of communicating simply will help you understand difficult concepts too.

Jesus used simple language.

-Rick Warren

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance…

-Paul (1 Corinthians 3:3)

Simple Words

When you speak with children it doesn’t mean you treat them as less intelligent, but you will connect with them better when you use words that they are familiar with. Remember, they haven’t encountered nearly the amount of words you have as an adult. So turn phrases like, “eternal life” into “forever life.” It means the same thing when you elaborate on it in conversation, it’s more fun to say and it hits home. Try simply talking to children and not talking down to them or over their heads. Aaron Reynolds, a crazy good kid communicator, says it this way, “You’re just talking, just sharing something cool. Casual. Real. Personal. This tone draws them in rather than pushing them away.”

Shorter Sentences

The NIrV is a children’s translation of the Bible. It is a great example of how shorter sentences are easier to read. They are also helpful in comprehension. Shorter sentences help you take a breath between thoughts. Doing this increases your ability to process. Ephesians 1 contains a long and masterful sentence. But try reading that to a child. You couldn’t expect them to understand. Even adults will need to read that sentence very slowly and deliberately. Then to grasp it fully, adults would need to break it down into connected thoughts. Turn a big idea into a memorable and repeatable phrase such as, “God is super strong!”

Essential Truth

Stick to the most important things. Sometimes we just want to dump all of our knowledge into children’s brains, but brains don’t work that way, especially kids brains. So stick to the essential truth you want to communicate for the moment and repeat it in different ways. Paul received essential truth and passed it on. While much of his writing is complex, he nonetheless continues to return to what’s essential. Everything he writes about is expanding on the idea that 1. God wants us to belong to him and 2. He makes this possible through Jesus who died, was buried and came back to life. (Notice the simpler word choice of “came back to life,” instead of “rose again.”)

Vivid Examples

Remember that kids have difficulty thinking in abstract terms. So consistently bring in tangibles, visuals, everyday objects, common experiences. If you’re talking about water, go get some! If you want children to see what Jesus means when he talks about the vine. Show a picture or bring in a real one…with grapes to share! Jesus communicated simply even with adults. To talk about the Kingdom of God, an extremely abstract concept, he used seeds, sheep, trees, birds, dirt, pearls, and on and on.

Let’s just talk to kids this week and enjoy the simplicity that comes from that!

Lord, thank you for the simple truths of life.





Hear: Speaking So Children Want to Listen

22 12 2015

What would ministry be without conversation?

-Katey Hage

How can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them?

-Paul (Romans 10:14)

Simply thinking that you believe in, fully trust and devote to Jesus is a strong starting point. True belief then leads to a transformation of lifestyle. This prompts us to speak so others can hear and want to listen. Speaking so children will listen is a challenge, but with love as your motivation, creativity as your friend and fun as your language, you’ll be well on your way. “Do you hear what I hear? A song, a song, high above the trees. With a voice as big as the sea.” Inspire some curious conversations with your words this week!

Think about ways you can speak words that connect with children.

Love. Love is the path that allows children to hear your words. Speaking words of kindness opens the door to the heart which builds relationship.

  • I’m so glad to see you today!
  • Jesus loves you!!
  • Come on over! I want to know what you think about…
  • Check this out.
  • That is a super idea! Can you tell me more about that?
  • You are amazingly awesome!

Creativity. Creativity just takes the typical and turns it into interesting.

  • So when the angel appeared to Mary, Darth Vader attacked Joseph and they had an epic light saber battle right?
  • I want you to know about God’s amazing plan. Let me tell you about a time when my plans flopped…
  • God always keeps his promises. I don’t. I remember when I promised…
  • Can you read this for me?
  • I’m so thankful that Jesus is my best friend. The other day, I was having a hard time with… and I remembered something Jesus said…

Fun. Play, quite literally, is a child’s language. It’s how they learn, understand and provides opportunities for communication.

  • Roll this dice. The number you roll will determine what action you must take. (Ie. whisper a phrase to pass around the circle, tell how you would respond to x situation, show on your face how you’d feel if x happened to you…etc.)
  • We’re not going to have any fun at all today. We’re not going to play any games or sing any songs or hear any stories. Boring, boring!
  • Take a look at this picture. What comes to your mind?
  • For each right answer, try to get this ball into the moving bucket.

What ideas do you have for increasing the quality of your communication with children?

Lord, use my words to spark true belief.





6 Ways to Foster Early Language Development

21 01 2012

The following is from Development Through the Lifespan, by Laura E. Berk.

  1. Respond to coos and babbles with speech sounds and words.
  2. Establish joint attention and comment on what child sees.
  3. Play social games, such as pat-a-cake and peekaboo.
  4. Engage toddlers in joint make-believe play.
  5. Engage toddlers in frequent conversations.
  6. Read to toddlers often, engaging them in dialogue about picture books.

Put these into practice and your child will develop their language skills well. They will experiment “with sounds that can later be blended into first words.” They will learn turn-taking for conversation. Their vocabulary will develop faster. They will grow in their conversation ability, develop language earlier and likely enable greater academic success later. Reading “provides exposure to many aspects of language, including vocabulary, grammar, communication skills, and information about written symbols and story structure.”





Behaviour Modification or Biblical Correction?

30 07 2011

I’ve been thinking about my use of consequences as I parent and lead children. Consequences are a powerful motivator for making right choices and avoiding the wrong. So they are needed for guiding children.

However, there is a word of caution for relying solely on consequences. Relying on them is merely behaviour modification. This is actually damaging because simply changing behaviour is self-reliant and exterior. As parents who believe in and follow Jesus we know that we cannot save ourselves or grow our character apart from his redeeming and sanctifying work. We are not self-reliant, but Christ-reliant. And the way Christ works is by transforming the heart not putting a vain polish on our appearance.

We reap what we sow. If you plant a fern you will grow a fern. Likewise, if you sow anger you will reap anger. So as parents we can help children recognize the implications of their choices with appropriate consequences.

Tedd and Margy Tripp have written a book called Instructing a Child’s Heart. In it, I came across a quote that provides a solid distinction between the worldly approach to parenting called behaviour modification and the Godly approach they call biblical correction. They write,

“We do not depend on consequences to alter behavior. We want to train the heart of the child. In behavior modification, consequences are the means of shaping or manipulating behavior. In biblical correction and discipline, consequences are a means of demonstrating, in a sensory way, the importance of the spiritual consequences that are accruing in relationship to God, to others and to ourselves.”

Therefore, communication is vital for parenting. We can’t slap down consequences and expect children to turn out right. We have to do the hard work of explaining what Christ wants to accomplish in our hearts. The consequences are a way to help make that conversation happen.

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Discussing God With A 3-Year Old « JeremyNortonBlog.com

13 07 2011

 

Thanks for these thoughts Jeremy!

 

 

 

Discussing God With A 3-Year Old « JeremyNortonBlog.com.





Erasing Hell-Francis Chan

22 06 2011

Erasing Hell.

My buddy Jeremy posted this YouTube link on Francis Chan’s book trailer. Families need to have these kinds of conversations about Hell with their children. This isn’t about scaring them like a horror flick. This is about seriously weighing the words of God and gracefully pointing children to the One who died to save them from a very real punishment. Francis highlights some important principles to remember when talking about weighty doctrines.








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