Updated: Jun 21, 2018
Being a parent is one of the most stressful, fun, messy, beautiful, overwhelming, encouraging and difficult callings in the world. Every child in every family is unique and raising kids is an endlessly challenging adventure. In this adventure, God has called parents to disciple their children: to teach them to obey all that He has commanded and to see Christ formed in them (Matthew 28:20). No matter where you are in your journey as a parent, Redeemer Stillwater desires to equip you and your household for the journey of discipling your kids.
Due to the structure of Redeemer Kids changing for the summer, with our older kids (over 5 years old) having the opportunity to sit and witness the service from beginning to end, we want to take this opportunity to highlight several disciplines of a believer they might witness during service—why we do them and how to discuss them with your kids. Our prayer is that this summer is one that will be marked with good conversations about the life of a believer and to create space for your family to worship God together and talk about the good news of His plan to rescue the world from the problem of sin through Jesus Christ.
God’s good design of families means the parents are given the closest proximity and greatest influence in the lives of their children. Parents have the incredible privilege of helping their children discover the word and teach them to know, love, trust and obey the One who made them. Whether you, as a parent, realize it or not, you are constantly imparting truth of some sort to your children. Kids naturally imitate their parents. They learn what is important in life by watching how mom and dad spend their time, money, and attention. For this reason, we desire to help parents in their unique responsibility to testify to God’s goodness, encourage belief, and model glad-hearted obedience.
We know it is an intimidating endeavor. Few things lead to deeper dependence on God’s help than parenting a child and seeking to faithfully disciple them. God graciously provides what we need in order to be faithful to His call on our lives. One way He does this for parents is by giving them the church family. The role of the church is to help disciple children by coming around parents with love, support, accountability, and prayer. Our hope is that Redeemer Kids will not assume parental influence, but rather supplement and strengthen it.
It’s in this good design of families and during this unique season of our church that we want to take the opportunity to provide support and highlight a few opportunities where parents can “commend His works to the next generation” (Psalm 145:4), recount God’s power and faithfulness, and to teach His commands.
Help your child understand that communion is a reminder, both for the individual believer and the church family as a whole, of Jesus’ sacrifice in their place for sin, which overcomes evil. For this reason, our pastors take time before the taking of communion to explain that this practice is for the believer in Christ. Many kids will just want a snack because they have been sitting in service so long! Remind them of the seriousness of the moment and take this time to remind them of the problem of sin. You can say a few simple phrases to help them understand:
-We are all sinners
-God is good and He saw we needed to be rescued from sin.
-Jesus came to save sinners.
-Because of Jesus, we are free!
Explain the gospel to them in simple words and then explain that communion is a time to talk to God about how we have sinned, to ask for forgiveness, and to remember how Jesus rescued us from all sin by eating broken bread, to remind us of His broken body, and dipping it in grape juice, to remind us of His blood that He used to rescue us!
How do you know if your child is ready to take communion? The decision for your children to participate in communion is one every believing parent will wrestle with. Some things to look for are:
-Have they given a confession of faith in Jesus Christ?
-Are they showing fruit and evidence of conversion through obedience and love for Jesus?
-Do they understand communion?
Communion is a symbolic act of remembering, and as such, it requires the partaker to be able to reflect and recognize its spiritual significance. So, don’t rush it. There is nothing magical about taking communion—nothing will be added unto them, so to speak.
When you see that the time is right for your child to take communion, take time before attending service to discuss the practice with them. Explain what communion is and what communion is not. Make sure they know why we take communion and that Jesus instructed us to do this often as a way of remembering and celebrating what He did for us. Finally, explain to them how to take communion. Remind them of the solemn nature of remembering—to prepare to receive communion by setting their heart and mind on Christ and His death. Explain what they will hear from the pastors and the proper way to receive the bread and the juice.
No one knows your child better than you. Pray and follow the Spirit’s guidance on when your child is ready for communion. We are always ready and available to answer questions you may have, to pray with you, and to celebrate spiritual milestones in your family. Let us know how we can best equip you and your family for the journey of family discipleship.
By Jennifer Reeves