Disciple Your Children During the COVID-19 Pandemic
This strain of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has spread rapidly throughout the world, and the CDC is now advocating social distancing as a major part of prevention. Because of this, schools are closing, many jobs are advocating working from home, and many families have found themselves with much more time together.
While at first glance that looks like a total negative, the Lord often uses seasons like this to force us to reorient our lives to the things that are the most important. With the closures of churches (like ours at Village Church of Lincolnshire), families will have the remarkable opportunity to deliberately focus on home discipleship, family worship, and daily spirituality. No better time than a pandemic to start reading your Bible every day and catechizing your children.
In light of this, here are three ways you can focus on child discipleship during the COVID-19 Pandemic:
Start everyone’s day off with Bible reading and prayer.
Children often take on more of the stress of world events than adults do, even if they don’t show it. Part of the way you can minister calm in your family is by reminding your kids that they can talk to God about what scares them and trust his promises. Model that faith by reading the Bible aloud, maybe during breakfast, and inviting your kids to pray with you. Lead them through both how they can pray (“we bow our heads, close our eyes, clasp our hands, and talk to God in our minds”) and what they can pray for (“Let’s pray for our friends we can’t see right now”). Doing this daily will remind your children not only of the value of prayer, but how important God is to you.
Fathers: see yourself as the shepherd of your little flock.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). The Bible’s vision of discipleship centers around the idea that one generation passes down the truth of the gospel to the next (Psalm 78:1-4). The Bible-vision of a household is one which is saturated in the Word:
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
While everyone should be continually reminding each other of the Bible story, a large part of this Bible-saturation is mediated through Dads. Fathers play an important role in the Biblical world, with the responsibility to guide and nurture their families. A large portion of the book of Proverbs is a father telling his son what to do and what to avoid (Proverbs 1:8; 4:1; 7:24, see Psalm 34:11-14).
Fathers, take some time in this season to shepherd your children. Take the lead for extra Bible instruction, or catechism lessons. Let them see you pray. Give mom some time off. Maybe God is using such a time as this to grow your faith, too.
Try a Catechism.
The first question of the New City Catechism for kids goes like this:
Q: What is our only hope in life and death?
A: That we are not our own but belong to God.
I don’t know about you, but I needed that reminder today. The great thing about a catechism is that through them the profound truths and promises of God’s word go deep into our hearts and minds, through the simple question and answer format that is conducive to conversation. Catechisms are also versatile, in that older kids (such as youth) can have opportunities to ask questions, ponder the concepts, and grow in discovery as their curiosity is piqued. Young children, however, are fantastic at memorization and can build a basic faith-grammar to be built on as they age.
While there are many historic catechisms out there (such as the Westminster Shorter Catechism), I’d recommend starting with the New City Catechism (Find it here). Their children’s version includes an app both for browsers and phones, as well as songs to go with each question. Invest in the kids booklet (Link to Amazon), and create a chart that rewards kids for their progress.
In whatever ways you do it, focus on discipling your kids through the COVID-19 pandemic. Ask God to show up for family worship time, and don’t be surprised if he does. God may break down barriers, open up hearts, and heal wounds. He might give you a clear vision of your calling as a family. I can’t say for sure, but this I know: “where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.” (Matthew 18:20).