Welcome to Embark: A Journey in supporting your Childs faith. As we work through the sessions together you will be given a few things each week to make the process easier.
Resources you will receive:
- 1 Podcast: outlining conversation and communication skills along with other applicable topics.
- A combination of show notes and further resources for exploration.
- 1 written post with tangible and applicable skills to apply to the conversation or situation.
- You will also have access to emails and forums to ask further questions in order to connect with us on another level.
Over the next five sessions, we will be exploring your child’s faith by helping you facilitate conversation in order to discover where your child is at in terms of belief. We will be talking about invitational and communication skills that will assist these conversations.
This program is about equipping you with the tools necessary to support your child within their faith walk while empowering your child to speak candidly and openly about their faith in a safe and judgment-free zone.
Remember, Embark is for all parents. Whether you are an individual who believes differently than your child or someone who believes the same and is simply looking for a new way to connect with your child. Embark is here to support you through this journey. With the realization that these conversations can be hard and awkward at times we are going to be addressing them in a way that is approachable both for parents and for children and youth.
Session 1 | Show Notes
Addressing the Awkward
5 Tips for Spiritual Conversations with Your Child
Let’s face it, sometimes having open conversations with children can be hard, even daunting, especially when it comes to the harder subjects to breach. Faith is often one of those subjects. Helping your child navigate their new-found faith and connection with God can be a confusing and challenging time for parents.
Over the next five sessions, we will be helping facilitate conversation and will be inviting you to share in the growth of your child’s Christian journey. We will be encouraging you to invite your child to communicate their new faith with you. Through using the resources, we have provided, you will be able to have conversations with your child while establishing a safe space to share and examine their faith. This program is about equipping you with the tools necessary to support your children within their faith walk while empowering your child to discover and explore.
In session one podcast I talked about the importance of addressing the awkward and gave ideas on how to do that. We will now give you some practical tools to use while starting and holding those conversations.
Listen to more talk less
This may sound easy, but it is crucial to the conversation. It opens up the doors for your child to share their experience as they see it. Listen first and do your best to not correct or interrupt them as they share. Leaving the floor open to allow your child to share in a judgement free zone will allow them to feel more comfortable, specifically when it comes to the more in-depth topics.
Ask follow-up questions
Ask follow-up questions before stating your opinion. This will help your child explore and discover their understanding of their faith and helps them take ownership of their own beliefs.
“I don’t know” Is an acceptable answer
If your child says “they do not know”, don’t panic, this is a journey and they will often stumbleupon ideas or concepts they are unfamiliar with. This is a great invitation for you as a parent to explore something together with your child. Help your child discover the answer rather than giving them your opinion on the question, this will help them build confidence in their faith and will help you connect with your child as you explore the answer together. We also explore this as an answer to questions your kids may be asking you in the podcast and how that may give you the opportunity to further discover something together.
Encouragement goes a long way
Truth be told your child is probably a little, or a lot, confused about many of the logistics of Christianity. Being able to encourage them in this journey of discovery is a huge opportunity for you as a parent to connect with your child on a new level.
Explore, Explore, Explore
Often times children will have many questions about their new-found faith. This holds the potential for you to explore something together, and bond over that experience. This journey is likely confusing for the both of you, and that’s okay. Exploring together is an awesome way to spend time together and keep the lines of communication open. Luckily, we are also here to help with that!
Conversation is integral in this process, don’t worry we will walk with you through this! We are all in this together.
Overall, this is a journey of discovery that will be challenging and fun at the same time. Over the next 5 sessions, Embark will partner with you to further support your child in their journey while allowing them the freedom to explore answers found in scripture and God.
Embark is here to support you! Please do not hesitate to send in questions in the comments section or to the contacts provided below.
We are officially on this journey together. Welcome to Embark.
Session 2 | Show Notes
Encouraging Faith Growth
I believe there is no growth within a personal relationship with God without a healthy Christian community and time spent in the Bible. Within the podcast, we focused on the importance of community and the benefits of getting your child connected into a healthy community. In these show notes, you will read about the importance of the Bible and how it helps your child grow in their faith.
Obviously, I will not be able to communicate the entirety of the Bible and its impact in one short post, so, for now, we are just going to view it within the context of growth and how it applies to that.
The Bible, as a physical book, is a pillar within the Christian faith. Believing that “All scripture is God-breathed” 2 Timothy 3:16. Impacts much of the way Christians relate to the Bible. It is not simply a book, but rather a living account of God.
The Bible as a whole is a collection of books put together over a period of time with several different literary devices and authors contributing to the Bible as a whole. There is everything from History to poetry.
Daunting, isn’t it? I’ll admit I still find the Bible to be a little overwhelming at times, which it can be. There is a lot of information covered in a fair number of pages. But, before we get overwhelmed together let’s simplify the purpose of reading the Bible and connect with how it applies to your child’s growth.
Think of it as a relationship or friendship. Any good relationship has consistent communication and time spent. If you never spend time with your friend or talk to them on the phone at what point does your relationship suffer or even end. This is why we read the Bible, to grow in relationship with Jesus.
For your child, the act of reading their Bible needs to be encouraged, remember encouragement goes a long way. It’s not a question of how often they read but rather a question of the intent behind the reading. Sure, consistency is key to forming any new habit. Many people like to read in the morning or right before they go to bed. If your child is one of those individuals, then great! If they are someone who likes to read while they are eating breakfast or lunch, then awesome. It’s not about when it’s about why – an intentional relationship.
3 practical tips for reading the bible
- Start in Matthew, Mark, Luke or John
Trying to read the Bible all the way through, from cover to cover, without any context can be really difficult and disheartening to even the best of readers. So if you start in one of the Gospels (the names above.) these will give you a good understanding of Jesus, who he was, and how he lived his life all through eyewitness accounts.
- Apps can be Awesome
If you allow your child to use apps or if they have access to your phone some of the applications out there for bible reading allow you to choose themes or topical Bible studies that you and your child could go through together. I will point out some of my recommendations in the show notes.
- Find one that fits your child
There are a ton of Bibles to choose from and not all are as easy to grasp for children. Some have extras in them that can be really helpful in understanding the faith and the context around each chapter. I will recommend some of my favourites and give a breakdown to some of the extras that a Bible may or may not have. Generally speaking, New Living Translation NLT and New International Version NIV are two
Apologetics Study Bible for Students and Youth.
Children’s Adventure Bible.
You can also pick up a bible at Covenant Bay Bible Camp anytime. Covenant Bay will have Bibles on hand to be handed out at anytime.
In reading the Bible we are connecting with God and his teachings, this is crucial to our spiritual growth and health. Supporting your child in this is foundational to their faith journey.
Thank you, for embarking with us on this journey, I hope you are gaining useful information into starting conversations and talking to your child about their faith.
Embark is here to support you! Please do not hesitate to send in questions in the comments section at http://covenantbay.ca/embark/session-2 or to the contacts provided below.
Until next week, enjoy the journey of faith.
Session 3 | Show Notes
Your own Journey
So, let’s face it. You may be finding yourself asking some questions you never expected to ask. Questions that you thought you had figured out at one point. This is a sign of growth and intellect, both good things. Being able to re-evaluate where you are in life and what you believe in is key. Whether you consider yourself old or young it’s never too late nor too early to explore your faith.
Like I mentioned in the podcast there is no way I can tackle all the questions that could come up. But I do want to take some time and approach a couple. Keeping in mind these answers are an understanding of the Bible and its context I have gathered over the years through many conversations, debates and readings. I always try to refer to scripture when trying to understand life’s questions.
Let’s jump right in.
What Christianity is not.
We often view Christianity by what it is, and we may or may not have a misconception on that. So here are some of the important things I want to point out in regards to what Christianity is not.
Firstly, it is not solely a set of rules about what not to do. Sure, the Bible guides you and protects you by making you think through your actions. However, I believe we do a disservice to the bible when we talk about it simply as a set of rules.
Secondly, often times we judge Christianity on what we see in popular media, which paints a picture that in my opinion is less than flattering. I believe that extremism is dangerous whether that be within Christianity or other belief systems.
How do I know the Bible is real?
Textual Criticism is the way in which books are tested for validity. This means that a book and its manuscripts are measured by the number of textual variants. In other words, the books themselves are tested by the number of changes that are made over time and whether or not those stand true to the original text of the book or manuscript. It also measures the number of copies made over a period of time and to what degree changes have been made. All this to say, textual criticism looks at the trueness and consistency of a book. Using this method of measurement, the Bible stands out as being one of the most accurate and well-preserved texts of it’s time, which establishes the accuracy of the text today.
Why do bad things happen to good people?
Understandably this is a common question. Unfortunately, that does not mean it is easy to answer. I can no longer count the number of times I have been asked this question, either from adults or children. Each presenting their own difficulties in answering in an age-appropriate way. For this post, let’s focus on the adults. Everyone is living in a broken and sinful world. Our world and human beings no longer live as originally intended by God. We all have the capacity to do bad things which impacts the people around us. The world is a place where bad things happen, for example, disease, famine and natural disasters many of these things are out of our human control.
We often find ourselves fixated on the question of “Why?” when bad or unpleasant things are happening in our lives or others. This question in and of itself can be maddening. The why question will often lead us to a point where we are trying to understand some pretty big questions, often times the answer to these questions are outside of our grasp and understanding. The question we can be asking rather than “Why?” could be “Where?”. Where does good come from? where, do we as individuals, find our hope and comfort in the midst of the hard and frustrating times that we face.
Within Christianity, we look to God for comfort and hope.
How do we know Heaven and Hell are real?
I believe that this is a question that we, as a global culture, deal with on a regular basis. The question really is “What’s next?” or “What happens when I die?” These are obviously not easy questions to answer. However, if we believe in the bible, and that all scripture is inspired by God then we can begin to shape our understanding of Heaven and Hell.
I have never been to Heaven or Hell, so I can only go off of what the Bible tells me about them. Heaven is described as a place for those who have accepted God’s free gift of grace (Romans 6:23). In John 14:1-4 Jesus is speaking to his disciples and says about heaven.
‘“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.”’
Hell is described as a place for all who sin but do not accept God’s free gift of grace. Jesus says this in Matthew 7:13-14.
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.
Scripture says a great deal about heaven and hell and metaphors are often used to help us understand. Scripture describes hell as a fire, furnace, or lake of fire. Heaven is described like this, the “main street was pure gold, as clear as glass.” Rev 21:21. My point is this regardless of how literal your interpretation of the descriptions we know that heaven will be a glorious place with God and hell a torturous place without God.
What is free will in the context of Christianity?
The concept of choice is one we face every day, we choose the clothes we wear, the food we eat and the relationships we seek out. God gave us free will to have just that, the choice. Simply put if we were forced to love God or something, would that still be love? God does not want us to follow him because we are forced to, he wants us to choose a relationship with him. This leads to a genuine relationship. This is often the choice we speak of as Christians, a very important choice, one that you choose every day, not just to be a Christian but to live life out in a way that honours God and the relationship you have with him.
Free will is the freedom to choose. God gives us that freedom in our relationship with him.
Although this is not a comprehensive list of questions, I hope it helps either answer some of your own questions or answer the questions that may come up from your child. Christianity is a journey with its own set of learning curves, don’t let that keep you from exploring. You aren’t meant to be perfect right away, or ever for that matter. Taking any step in faith is a huge achievement and will teach you more about yourself and God than expected.
Remember asking questions is key to growth. Having your own questions and exploring them is a great way to be able to support your child in their faith. Through your own exploration and curiosity can come some discussions that will shape the way in which both you and your child relate to God and can prompt a healthier understanding of what faith can be.
Embark is here to support you! Please do not hesitate to send in more questions in the comments section at http://covenantbay.ca/embark/session-3 or to the contacts provided below.
Thank you for being on this journey with me. Let’s continue to Embark together.
Session 4 | Show Notes
Within these show notes, we will be exploring the “How” behind the three topics mentioned in the podcast. Through the podcast, we began to explore and understand the “Why” to these three topics. Why prayer, the Bible and the church are important.
Now let’s journey into the practical application of how this might look for your child’s life.
Starting with reading the Bible, we have talked about why it is important and that it is not about perfection. What does reading the bible actually look like in the day to day?
I have two trains of thought when it comes to reading the Bible. You might find your child being an everyday person. That’s great! Reading your Bible every day gives you a chance to take in some of the words and often reflect on that throughout the day. Alternatively, you might find your child being more of a binge reader, like me. Setting aside a time once or twice a week to read a larger chunk is what I find works best for me. That’s really all that this is about, finding what fits your child and works best for them,
My two tips for reading the Bible are as follows:
Try things out or change it up. Let your child try different times, amounts and places they read the Bible. Maybe they have a favourite time or chair that fits them. They won’t know until they give it a shot. Remember, there is no judgment for faltering within exploration if it isn’t working there are other alternatives.
Secondly, it’s not about perfection, it’s about consistency. Consistency builds habit and habit helps with the formation of not only good character traits but a relationship with God. Encouraging consistency is important to your child’s journey in faith. This will help them establish good habits when it comes to their Christian faith.
The next concept I want to go over is the church. In a previous podcast, we have talked about the importance of church and how it helps to establish strong community and accountability. Truth Is, like much of this journey it’s best to explore what works for your child. With that said, Church most often happens on Sunday mornings, setting aside time in your daily or weekly routine to help your child attend church or attending with them can make a huge impact on their spiritual journey. I believe finding and getting plugged into a local church is one of the most important things a Christian can do for their relationship with God.
The other aspect of the church would be a youth group in which your child could get age-appropriate teaching and have fun bonding with peers. Typically speaking youth groups happen sometime during the week, usually for a few hours. This is your chance to help your child prioritize. Often times, as a youth group leader, I here an abundance of reasons why a child can’t make it. Generally boiling down to a busy lifestyle. For Christians, making God a priority in life needs to be taken into consideration when planning the schedule for the week. If you as a parent don’t make time for your child to go to church they will have difficulty understanding God as a priority.
Lastly, I want to explore the concept of prayer in a practical sense. Prayer, in its essence, is a conversation with God. We can speak to God throughout our day at any time. Keep in mind, when in a conversation we have to both speak and listen. Leaving space for God to respond to prayer is important. This may look like a calm still moment of reflection, journaling or talking it out with others. These are ways we can carry out our conversation with God. In the podcast, I mention that it took me a while to understand that prayer isn’t simply a thing we have to do before bed, although if that is what you or your child does then that’s awesome. Refer to my tips on reading the Bible. Much of what I said there applies to prayer. It’s not about perfection it’s about consistency and finding a time or routine that works best for your child or you as an individual may take some time and some navigating but you will get there.
Practical application of these principles will help your child grow, understand and solidify their faith while allowing you to come alongside them and support them through this process. These are the everyday steps that bring faith from something that is said to something that is experienced. These principles help take the information from head knowledge to heart knowledge, meaning not only understanding the information but being able to relate and connect with said information.
Embark is here to support you! Please do not hesitate to send in more questions in the comments section at http://covenantbay.ca/embark/session-4 or to the contacts provided below.
Thank you for being on this journey with me. Let’s continue to Embark together.
Session 5 | Show Notes
Congratulations, you have made it to the end of Embark.
This is only the beginning of your journey with your child! The conversations around God and faith will keep changing as your child grows and experiences God in new and exciting ways. So, be open to those conversations.
In this last set of show notes, we will be going over some of the resources I have found useful in the last few years of my journey. This will give you a good start to begin researching on your own and seeking out answers.
The Bible Project
Great for overviews and context-based learning. They also approach themes within the Bible and explore those in a historical context. This resource is great for adults and kids and uses a multitude of platforms to communicate the gospel.
Alpha is great to ask questions in a safe environment and to explore life’s big questions in a way that is non-threatening. With both adult and youth curriculum finding an Alpha group near you or using the online resources can be a great resource for you and your child’s journey.
YouVersion Bible App
Quick and easy to use, this application is a great way to carry the Bible with you. This application offers many great plans to get into the word with downloadable content and Bible translations so you can have several options while on the go. Also, check out their Bible app for kids.
Really the ultimate resource, the Bible should be the lens through which all information is viewed through. With many different translations, you have the opportunity to find one that fits best for your child. Some of my favourites are, English Standard Version (ESV), New Living Translation (NLT), and New International Version (NIV). These are all approachable and fairly easy to read. As far as specifics for the Bible itself there are many that are themed, such as, teens, young adults, children etc. So an age appropriate bible is definitely available for your child.
Focus on the Family
Focus on the family is an online resource that focuses on family dynamics and parenting within a Christian context. This online resource can be great for looking into further resources, gaining information on parenting and finding family-friendly programming.
Moral revolution is a cross-platform resource that explores some of the more difficult questions when it comes to living a faith-based life. Keeping in mind, some of the articles and information can be mature in its nature, this resource is aimed at young adults. With the motto of “Let’s Talk About It” they approach many of the taboo subjects within Christianity.
Keys for Kids devotional
With Keys for Kids devotions, you’ll learn more about God’s love every day! Read or listen to a fun story and hide God’s Word in your heart with the Key Verse of the day.
These resources should give you a basis on which to continue your journey. Again I want to thank you for journeying with Embark. I hope that we have helped open up conversations throughout the last five weeks.
While I recommend these resources, we have no association with these resources. I simply have found them useful for teaching and learning. I hope you find these useful, as I have. Have a resource you want to share? Go to http://covenantbay.ca/embark/session-5 and share your comments there! Who knows you may find us updating our show notes based on your recommendations!
Embark is here to support you! Please do not hesitate to ask further questions as they come up using the contacts found below.
Thank you for exploring with Embark, I wish you all the best as you continue this journey of supporting your child in their faith. Your support means the world to them.