Mentoring a Child’s Faith
When a child asks to make profession of faith, he or she is often assigned a mentor. A public profession of faith is both a very basic thing to do, saying publicly that you love the Lord, and also a very adult thing to do, expressing the beginning of an understanding of the great mystery of faith. When a child expresses a desire to make a public profession of faith, they’re usually thinking of the first of those two things and are not even considering the second. It’s a great thing when kids publicly express their faith, and we don’t want to discourage them. But we do want to begin to give shape to conversations that will help them along the path of discovering more about their faith.
The Building Blocks of Faith can help to give a framework and focus to these conversations and discussions with a child by using language that is easy to understand. The ideas below may help guide the time a child spends with a mentor, an elder, or a pastor.
- Use Bible stories to show how God is actively bringing people into belonging to him and to the church. The story of Ruth shows how God brought someone from Moab into his community and blessed her. In addition, through her, many others were blessed, starting with Boaz and Naomi and continuing on to all those blessed by her great-grandson King David and, eventually, by Jesus.
- Rahab is another story of belonging to God and to his community. Rahab, like Ruth, was also part of the line of Christ.
- Read some good children’s books together that touch on this concept. Some examples of books about belonging in the church community are
- Sunday Morning by Gail Ramshaw and Judith Jarret
- Come Sunday by Nikki Grimes
- A Children’s Guide to Worship by Ruth L. Boling
I Know and Understand
- Psalm 1 creates a beautiful picture of a life devoted to reading God’s Word. When we read and learn from the Word of God, we will grow like a tree by a riverside and bless others. The psalm starts with “Blessed is the one . . . whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.” This psalm can also serve as a simple introduction to the way the psalms use metaphor.
- Rediscover the Bible stories of Josiah, the child who was king, and the discovery of the Book of the Law of God in the temple (2 Kings 22). Discuss how Josiah reacted when he heard the book read.
- Consider Bible storybooks such as
- The Children's Bible in 365 Stories by Mary Batchelor
- The Children's Illustrated Bible by Selina Hastings
- Children of God Storybook Bible by Desmond Tutu
- The Family Story Bible by Ralph Milton
- The Loving Arms of God by Anne Elizabeth Stickney
I Have Hope
- Bible stories give examples of hope:
- In 2 Chronicles 20 we see that King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah faced a vast army. They prayed in hope, and God delivered them.
- The hope that comes into our daily life is seen in the struggles and triumphs Israel faced in Egypt (Exodus 1-14), in Jonah’s ordeal and rescue by way of a fish (book of Jonah), and in Elijah’s thinking that he was the only one left who believed in God (1 Kings 19).
- The psalms of lament often turn to praise. These songs and prayers need to be shared so that when we have times of struggle, we realize that we too can turn to God in hope. See, for example, Psalm 13.
- The book Grandpa, Is There a Heaven? by Katherine Bohlmann can help us start this discussion.
I Am Called and Equipped
- It is easy to get caught up in how our call is merely to “be nice” to other people. However, our calling is much more. Talk about the kind of work people in the church do, from caring for children to being police officers, selling real estate, and even being a pastor. Talk about how all of them, not just the pastor, serve God in their work and in their life.
- Many Bible stories illustrate how God calls and equips his people. The story of Samuel illustrates how God calls and equips children to do his work (1 Samuel 1-3). David also was called and equipped as a shepherd boy to fight the giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17).
- Spend some time with kids and talk about how God has been part of your life so that you know him, are assured that you belong to him and his family (the church), have hope, and are called and equipped. Then listen to the kids talk about God’s working in their lives!