I was thrilled when I stumbled upon Joy Wendlings blog! Her ideas and insight on sharing the Bible with little ones are awe-inspiring, and encourage me to keep on playing through scripture with my little ones. I know that you will feel the same. And I was so excited when she agreed to share her best tips for discipling little ones at home. Being a Children’s Minister-turned- SAHM, she has a unique perspective on what it takes to raise children who love Jesus. Keep reading to see her 10 tips for discipling little ones at home. And for more ideas and inspiration, visit her blog: Created To Play.
I grew up in Southern Virginia where we drink sweet tea, trace our lineage back to colonists, and go to church on
Sundays. Those are just the things we did. From a very early age I knew Jesus and that I would go to heaven one
At my grandma’s I ever so gently played with the very LARGE Bible that sat on a pedestal in the family room.
Flipping to a random page and reading the verses aloud as if to a congregation. Then carefully closing the book
before anyone saw me touching it.
I don’t remember anyone ever telling me not to touch it, but it was simply a feeling that I had. The way the Bible
was displayed, the golden edges, the leather cover. It looked holy, but not the way I think God intended.
One definition of “holy” is to be set apart for a particular purpose. This Bible, which I inherited and now sits on a
shelf with many of my other Bibles, literally looked “set apart” from daily life. Most of our faith felt that way, set
apart for Sundays, holidays, or when we needed something. But, it was all I knew.
In college, I was introduced to a personal relationship with Christ. Honestly, I felt cheated. How could people know
that Jesus loved me this much and not have told me in a way that helped me understand the incredible significance?
Now, I know that no one kept this secret on purpose, and I am sure that sweet Betty Wren, my favorite Sunday
School teacher, and countless AWANAS leaders tried to tell me, but they saw me for an hour once a week. They
didn’t have the relational leverage of my family or the same amount of time, and my family didn’t have the same
faith that they did.
Yet, this feeling of missing out of having Jesus as a bigger part of my childhood and teen years sparked my passion
for children’s and youth ministry. And, not just the kid aspect, but helping families to feel encouraged and equipped
to share Jesus with the kiddos in their homes.
Kids deserve to know that God created them uniquely and with a purpose. God loves them incredibly. Jesus calls
them friends. The Holy Spirit is always with them and will help them when they ask. THESE things can change a
While it may seem intimidating and overwhelming, as if you hold your child’s eternal destiny in your hands, rest
assured, you don’t. But, God does and He loves your kids more than you can and He doesn’t want you to fail any
more than you do. It doesn’t take a seminary trained pastor to teach your kids, it takes willingness and listening to
the Holy Spirit. You can do that, mama!
I have been to seminary and I have almost 20 years of ministry experience, but between the Holy Spirit and my kids
I am learning every day better ways to make disciples of my kids. Some days all I learn are great ways to fail at
discipling my girls, but God faithfully uses that, too.
So, here are 10 SIMPLE ways you can disciple your children that don’t involve just dropping them off at Sunday
10 Tips To Disciple Your Kids
1. TEACH their Sunday School class. As a Family Minister, this one was my favorite advice to give. Yes, I know if you can’t
teach your own kids about Jesus well how are you going to take on the responsibility of sharing the Bible to 10 to
15 more kids? Here’s the thing, most Sunday School classes provide great curriculum and free training. We also
learn so much when we are preparing for class. Plus, often you can ask to be paired with an experienced Sunday
School teacher and learn from them. And, I bet your church is a safe place to make mistakes and grow. Just love the
kids well and they will be very forgiving when you can’t name the Twelve Tribes. BONUS: your Children’s Pastor will
love you and your willingness to serve!
2. MODEL a relationship with Jesus. Let your kids see you doing your quiet time or setting that time apart. Be transparent
with your brokenness and need for Jesus. Apologize to them when you lose your temper or don’t follow through
with a promise. Pray in front of your children for guidance, wisdom, patience, and perseverance for yourself.
3. ENJOY an abundant life. Ecclesiastes 3:12 reads, “I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and enjoy
the good life.” Kids know how to live a full and abundant life. No one needs to teach them to put away the to do list
and go play. They were created to play, but so were you. In Ecclesiastes when Solomon shifted his focus from his
own striving to God everything went from meaningless to “rejoice and enjoy the good life.” If we want our kids to
know Jesus and want to have a relationship with Him it has to be something worth doing, or for kids, FUN. Use age
appropriate books and language, teach through games, silliness, and play. Laugh together. Find funny things in the
Bible; they are there! Look up crazy animals God created, who really needed the blob fish? Celebrate fun holidays
like Nation Ice Cream Day. The Bible is full of holidays and celebrations that show celebrating is meaningful to God.
4. JOIN a family style Life Group. This has been huge for our family. When our previous church first announced Life
Groups I knew that I didn’t want to join a group where we needed to hire a babysitter every week or where my kids
would feel out of place. We were very intentional to join one where we knew our kids would see us in the Word
with other adults, have friends, and get to know other adults that loved them and Jesus. While our group has
changed a bit each year, after three years we have an authentic Christ-centered small community of 4 families that
show each other and all our total of now 9 (with a 10th on the way) kids Jesus’ love. We pray for each other and our
kids, we study the Word together, we eat together, we go on adventures together, we speak hard truth in love, and
we disciple each other’s kids in ways that wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t actually do life together with all the kids
and interruptions that’s involved in this crazy, noisy Life Group of ours.
5. TALK about God, a lot. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says, “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must
love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves
wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk
about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are
getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of
your house and on your gates.” There is so much we can learn from these verses about discipling our kids, but the
main thing is to talk to your kids about God and loving Him with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength
“again and again.” It doesn’t need to be deep and heavy conversations, but including Him in what you are already
doing, “Look at that boat! Do you think that’s the kind of boat Jesus and disciples used?” “Wow, do you see this
pretty flower that God made?” “I love how silly God created you!” “This book reminds me a story in the Bible when
6. ASK your kids questions. I find that most of the time when I start a conversation with my oldest by asking her faith
questions, she ends up continuing the conversation with some really great faith questions of her own. She just needs
the invitation to start some faith talk and then she opens about what is on her mind. For example, she’s been at VBS
this past week so I asked her if she thought Paul had anything to do with her and her life. At first, she didn’t know, but
then I tried to help her think. Did God do anything cool in Paul’s story? Then we talked about that. Has God changed
since Paul’s time? Chat, chat, chat… Could God do cool things for you or through you? After my series of questions,
she asked me some good questions of her own.
7.READ the Bible together. This doesn’t have to be a big formal thing, just pick a Bible that y’all like and dig in. We
have a stack of our favorites that the kids get to choose from. We also have lots of other Christian board books and
picture books that are always available to our girls. Over on my blog, www.createdtoplay.com, I share some simple
ways to make Bible stories come to life for your kids. Make it fun and engaging and your kids will want to read and
play through the Bible time and time again.
8. RECOGNIZE their good choices. In our family we are always looking to celebrate the Spirit’s work in our kids. We try to
do a lot of positive reinforcement using the fruit of the Spirit as our guide. But, you can use lots of verses to recognize
the good choices your kids make. “Thank you for obeying Mommy. God says when you honor your mommy and
daddy things will go well for you.” “You shared so nicely with your sister. Jesus says when you do something nice for
those in need it is like doing it for Him. Way to go!”
9. INSTILL confidence. As a mama you have a unique opportunity to witness your child’s life unlike anyone else. From
the beginning you see the ways that God created them to love, to serve, to grow, to learn, to reflect Him. Help your
children see who God created them to be and how they are representations of God for a hurting world. Is your child
creative? So is God! Tell them that. Is your child protective of others, a risk taker, bold, relentless? Read your child
stories of God relentlessly pursuing the Israelites, or healing on the Sabbath when that was against the law. Find
Bible heroes that have the same flaws as your kids and show them how God used them despite their brokenness.
Every time you tell them that you love them, remind them that God does too. God has already given your child
purpose, you just need to help them discover it.
10. PRAY, pray, pray! As a Family Minister, there were so many times when I felt like there was nothing I could do to help
a child, teen, mother, or family. Yet, I felt so privileged to be invited into the lives of those who I got to serve,
especially when they asked me to pray for them. Prayer is powerful. I believe it is the most powerful tool we have as
mothers. There is so little that we can actually control, including our kids and their hearts. So, when we relinquish
control to God and simply pray, He will step in in mighty ways. Pray for your kids, pray with your kids, pray in front of
your kids, and pray over your kids. You can pray at meals, bedtime, when they are scared, or hurt, or misbehaving, or
succeeding. You can pray at celebrations and disappointments. You can pray for their sleep, attitude, and future. You
can pray for wisdom to see and parent each child uniquely. Pray that you would know how to pray. Invite your
children to pray and encourage any effort. Praying out loud can be intimidating, but only gets easier as we do it.
Model praying to your children, pray with your children, and listening to them pray. Their prayers are great tools for
you to learn, as well.
When I went to seminary my area of study was Youth, Family, and Culture. I basically learned how insignificant my
professional ministry to children was compared to that of the family. You are your child’s primary pastor. God has
entrusted us mamas with His children and equipped us with the Holy Spirit.
You can be the mama your kids need with God’s help, and you can point your children to Jesus. Be sure that you are
allowing Him to pour into your life through personal quiet times, Bible study, and Christian fellowship. Trust Him, talk
to Him, rejoice and enjoy the good life… and your kids will follow.