The Impact of Christian Parents and Grandparents in Children’s Lives

7 Keys for Living and Sharing Our Christian Faith

The Time in Which We Live
Noah stood on the front porch and reached for his house key chain attached to his backpack. He turned the key in the door lock, went inside and locked the door. It had been a long school day in Grade 4. He was tired but even more, he was hungry. Thud went his backpack onto the entry floor. Noah grabbed a donut from the countertop, an energy drink from the frig, and plopped on the couch to start playing a favorite video game. Mom wouldn’t be home for two more hours. I can wait to start math homework, he thought.

“Hey! I’m going to the diner with my lacrosse friends. Don’t wait for me for dinner. They’ll bring me home by 8. Tell Mom to have a good night shift. See ya later.” Emma left her voicemail message on her dad’s phone. She ran to join the others to grab a burger and fries after her team’s practice on the field.

Maybe these situations sound familiar to your family’s life or to a family’s life close to you. Think about the pace of families in the last few decades. Many are one-parent families, some are grandparent-led families, others maybe be foster and adoptive families or group home families. The traditional two-parent families from the past half century have become a smaller percentage in our world. The physical makeup of families is very different! And with those changes come a variety of other changes for a family’s lifestyle and daily activities. Just look within your family and your extended family and at your friends and neighbors to get the picture. We wear the garage door opener out just coming and going!

If you and your immediate family (adults/child/children) eat a meal together even three times a week, you’re a rarity. Christian families (couples with children/singles with a child or children/grandparents raising grandchildren) who make time for morning or evening prayer and devotions probably aren’t the norm either. For many, sports practice and games take precedence over Sunday morning worship together. It’s easy for adults and children to become techno-addicts, using phones for texting, YouTube, social media, FaceTime, Google and more. It takes much effort and intentional scheduling to be together and spend time talking, sharing, working and playing together as a family.

Maybe this situation is more like your family’s, or more like what you hope and pray it would be:

Joe and Jenna sat at the dinner table with their three children and thanked God for their food and drink and for their together time. “What was the best thing about your day at camp, Henry?” They listened and interacted, encouraging Henry to be a camp lifeguard and Bible study leader for younger students. “I heard you practicing piano after school, Serena. Your recital piece is sounding great!” “We can be so thankful that Joey’s doctor has found a new treatment plan to help his CP,” Jenna told the family. Joe said, “Before we leave the dinner table, let’s take time to thank God for all his blessings today. After devotions, let’s all help clear the table so we can all play a board game together.”

To positively impact children’s lives in our Christian families means that we adults will be Christ’s disciples and lead our children to follow him too.

Families whose lives are centered around God and his teachings in the Word are challenged every day to remain strong in their relationship with Jesus. God gives Christian families tools and skills to stand firm in his teachings, the Bible. God grows us through his Word and Sacraments. He is always with us. He wants us to always be with him! A Christian’s life is God-driven, Christ-centered, and Spirit empowered!

Think about how your family communicates with each other. Many families speak their “home language” at the dinner table, whether it be Spanish, Italian, German, Serbian, English or another. Children learn the parents’ language naturally. Don’t wait until your child goes to Sunday school and church to hear God’s Word—his language for us. From their infancy on, talk about worship and what you believe. Let them hear you singing, praying, saying the Christian creeds, reading the Bible and Bible stories. Let them hear you asking for forgiveness and forgiving others. Let them hear you expressing love and care through your words when you pray for others, offer a meal, or volunteer childcare or transportation. Help early readers follow the lines of a hymn. Hold your babies close so they feel your peace and hear and feel the vibration and tones of your voice. Speak “God language” (“church language”) to your children as naturally as you would speak your native language.

Can and will we answer these questions with a loud Yes?

  • As the Christian leader(s) in our family, do we promise to love and obey God? Do we respect each other as a child of God and quickly ask for forgiveness and forgive others?
  • Do we strongly agree to live a Christian life in word and actions?
  • Do we commit to doing our best with the help of God to raising (discipling/leading/teaching) our children in the Christian faith life?

Let’s look at some of the important keys in unlocking and living in a Christian family’s plan that God has for us. Unless otherwise noted, Scripture references are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV).

1—Knowing and Believing Jesus Loves YOU!

John 3:16 — For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

For God so loved (say your name here), that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Know and believe that God gave his only Son Jesus to be born as a baby, both as a human and as the Triune God. He kept his promise made to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to send a Savior for all people. Our Lord and Savior Jesus loves every person so much that he grew up and died to take every sin that we’ve done and will ever do to his cross on Golgotha. He loves us so much that his forgiveness means we can die someday knowing he will take us to heaven to live with him in perfect joy forever. God loves you and me that much!

What does this look like in a Christian home?
When we know and believe Jesus’ love for us is real and perfect, we wake up in the morning thankful to be alive in Jesus, happy to face the new day and all its challenges, trust Jesus to guide us and hear our daily prayers, respect others and show Jesus’ love to them too. Because of Jesus, we can live our faith freely to be God’s children, empowered by the Spirit to follow God’s commandments, and be a blessing to others because of God’s grace to us. (Grace is “God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.”)

Christian parents and grandparents have a leadership role to “disciple” their children — to lead and teach through reading and learning God’s holy Word, the Bible, and to set an example as as disciple of Christ, one who follows Jesus and desires to mimic his words and actions as a faithful Child of God.

What are ways we can do that?

Read Scripture and meditate on it daily, before we begin our daily tasks. If you don’t already have a Bible, please see the Bibles, Bible studies, and devotional materials available through Concordia Publishing House ( for adults and children. Ask a pastor, family member, or friend if they have a Bible to share with you. Or look for your nearest Christian bookstore to visit online or in person. See a list of Christian resources at the end of this article.

Pray often, morning, noon, and night and times in between, knowing God always hears our prayers. Live according to God’s Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21) and when we fail, ask God to forgive our sins, shortcomings, bad decisions and failures. Our loving Father God promises to forgive and give us a new beginning each time we sincerely come to him asking for forgiveness.

Christian parents and grandparents have a responsibility to answer children’s questions in age-appropriate ways and to point them to God’s teachings about following him through life. He wants us to be his disciples (followers)! Our world is bombarded with news coverage about so many negative, evil and sad topics such as violence (at home, school, workplace and on the streets); bullying in person and through cyber space; spousal and child abuse; abortion; suicide; drug addictions and deaths; separation and divorce; same sex marriages; job losses; homelessness; sexual predators; deaths of family, friends, and pets; imprisonment; and more. These aren’t our favorite discussion topics, but It’s important that children hear and learn from you at home where their beliefs and values begin and develop as they mature. Remember: Speak in simple language, keep your discussions age-appropriate, and answer their questions honestly with only brief answers to what they ask. You’ll develop trust and respect and also avoid conversations they aren’t ready to process.

Copy this prayer and Scripture reminders and keep these in your Bible or devotional book to pray for your children each day. Or write your own prayer.

Father God, thank you for (name of child/children)!
Thank you for your loving care for me and for them every day.
Give me patience, kindness, joy and a thankful heart to love my family.
Keep us all healthy, keep us safe from evil, and keep us in your Word.
Thank you for sending your Son Jesus to save us from our sins.
Help us through the Holy Spirit to show Jesus’ love and forgiveness to each other and to those around our family.
Give us courage and strength always to stand up for Jesus!
Help each of us live as your dear children, thankful for all your blessings.
I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Reminder: Matthew 28:20 — God is with you all the time! (Paraphrased)
Joshua 24:15 — We in our household will serve the LORD! (Paraphrased)
Nehemiah 8:10 — The joy of the LORD is your strength!

We can love our children with unconditional love the way Jesus loves them! We can tell them each day how special and unique they are, created by the Father in his image, and remind them that every single sin we do has been nailed to Jesus’ cross. We don’t have to do anything. God’s love and forgiveness for us is a free gift all because of the love Jesus showed in his death for us. He is the Lamb who was sacrificed so that we can live with him forever. Daily hugs and affectionate reminders of God’s great love through our words and deeds can make or break a child’s sense of “Christ esteem” and feelings of worth! Remind your child if he or she were the only person on Earth, Jesus would have died for him or her! Have you heard that if God has a refrigerator in heaven, your photo would be on it? Jesus died and he LIVES for you!

2—Trusting God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is with you all the time!

Matthew 28:20 — I am with you always, to the end of the age.

This is Jesus’ power-packed statement to each of us that he is with us every second, every minute! His love for us is new every morning. He is with us as we work, play, rest, cry, fail, and succeed. We might sometimes take a wrong path and lose Jesus along our way. Never fear! He NEVER loses you and me, and when we’re lost, he comes looking for us as he does every lost sheep in his flock. He rescues us! He never gives up on us. He wants to hold us close to himself, to have a strong relationship and to help us grow that relationship with him day by day. He helps us trust and share his love and care with others.

What does this look like in a Christian home?
From the minute we wake up, until we fall asleep at night, we can trust Jesus walks with us and leads us in our daily activities. We can pray at breakfast simple words such as, “God, be with each of us today in all that we do and say. Keep us safe and healthy. Help us show your love to those we meet today.”

If our day brings a hard test at school, sadness or anger, or a loved one’s death, we can remind each other that God is love, and that God’s plan is always best. He holds our hand and walks us through whatever we face. God gives us each other to support and encourage, to hug and to care for, and to remind each other that he’s always there for us.

When we can’t find the words to pray or to say, the Holy Spirit does that for us. As the third person in our Triune God, the Spirit lives in us, prays for us and comforts us with perfect love. Christian parents and grandparents remind their children of the Spirit’s power in our lives. From the time we are baptized into God’s family with water and the Word, the Holy Spirit grows our faith in God and is our Helper. The Spirit helps us to show—not just tell—of the mighty love of God.

Our children are watching us all the time. Are we living in line with God’s commandments? Demonstrating trust in the Lord? Praying and giving our concerns to God? Worshiping and serving in love? Caring for a neighbor? Actions do speak louder than words and sometimes, we need NO words at all. Go and knock on someone’s door to see if they need anything. Phone and check on someone. Send a cheery note. Take a walk with someone and just listen. Give hugs. God is with you! He asks us to take a life-long trust walk with him.

3—Believing Jesus’ Love Is Our Foundation and Our Fuel

Proverbs 22:6 — Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Joshua 24:15 — But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Matthew 7:24-27 — Build your house on the rock (Christ). (Paraphrased)

James 1:22 — But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

James 4:8 — Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

What does this look like in a Christian home?
A building, if built correctly and solidly, will have a cornerstone, that cement block or corner foundation upon which the rest of the house is constructed. That cornerstone provides the strong support for the entire construction. Christian parents and grandparents want their homes to be “grounded in Christ” and indestructible against evil forces! The devil tries hard to crumble Christian families into nothing. A solid foundation with Jesus as our Cornerstone ensures that our family’s structure—faith and values—will stand firm against worldly pressures. Christ Jesus is the Rock. God wants us to build our Christian families on his Word, the living Jesus, the rock of our salvation.

Even before a couple marries and begins a family, that Christian man and woman (and their parents) each prays for the spouse that the Lord has planned for him and her. That Christian couple worships together, prays together, receives and gives forgiveness daily and lives according to God’s Commandments as best they can. This Christian couple shows love and kindness to others around them, walking in Jesus’ footsteps, being Jesus with skin to others. They serve the Lord with gladness and show Jesus’ love through their actions rather than hiding it under a basket!. When God blesses a Christian couple with children, they bring their children to be baptized into the Christian faith, promising to teach about Jesus’ love and forgiveness and raise their children to be loving, caring, compassionate and respectful children of God. They commit to “training a child in the way he should go” for a lifetime, always remembering that every child is a gift on loan from God our Father.

A Christian family grows together in faith and is fueled through hearing and reading God’s Word, both at church, Bible classes, in small groups and through family devotions. They serve others by volunteering to teach, lead, serve meals, gather clothes, find shelters and homes and provide needs for others. A campfire built with the driest, best pieces of wood will eventually go out if it isn’t replenished with wood pieces often. Just as that dying campfire is reduced to embers and ashes, it’s too easy for a Christian’s faith-fire to go out unless we remain in God’s Word, participate in Christian worship and fellowship through Bible classes, small groups, Sunday school, and activities to grow in fellowship with God and serve others.

A Christian folk song from the 1960s has these lyrics:

“It only takes a spark
To get a fire going
And soon all those around
Can warm up in its glowing
That’s how it is with God’s love
Once you’ve experienced it
You’ll spread his love to everyone
You’ll want to pass it on.

“What a wondrous time is Spring
When all the trees are budding
The birds begin to sing
The flowers start their blooming
That’s how it is with God’s love
Once you’ve experienced it
You’ll want to sing
It’s fresh like Spring
You’ll want to pass it on.

“I wish for you my friend
This happiness that I’ve found
You can depend on Him
It matters not where you’re bound
I’ll shout it from the mountain top
I want the world to know
The Lord of Love
Has come to me
I want to pass it on.”
(Lyrics by Kurt Kaiser from a Christian youth musical in 1968, “Tell It Like It Is”. You can find it on YouTube.)

A rocket ready to be launched from the space center’s launchpad will succeed only when it has been built solidly and put through all the aeronautical testing to make sure it will not fail. (Yet there’s no guarantee it won’t fail.) If it’s successful, the jet fuel propels it into its space mission from its solid cornerstone base where dedicated people have supervised, invented, tweaked and hoped for its spectacular lift off and mission. So it is even more special for the child raised and taught by Christian parents/grandparents to grow, learn, serve and succeed as a joyful, faithful member of God’s family! Remember that “failures” do happen in Christian families because of sin that began with Adam and Eve’s disobedience to Father God in the Garden of Eden. Remember God’s promise to send a Savior to die for all people, to guarantee God’s salvation which is free to all who believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all, who forgives sins and remember them no more. Praise the Lord for his promise of salvation, a free gift from God!

Christian parents and grandparents experience Jesus’ love personally through their close relationship with him as our Savior, Friend, Shepherd, Teacher, Babe of Bethlehem, and Brother. They make everything they say and do an offering of thanksgiving. They live in the joy of Jesus!

The Holy Spirit helps us ask God to forgive us when we’ve done wrong. He helps us to ask others for their forgiveness when we’ve hurt them in our actions and words. The Holy Spirit stirs excitement in our hearts to read and learn God’s holy Word, to talk to God in prayer, and to worship God with praise and thanksgiving.

Sometimes we don’t feel like going to church or Sunday school and Bible class. When the devil tries his hardest to make us forget God, neglect God, or reject God, the Holy Spirit pulls us with all his might to keep us marching as part of God’s army on the right path so we don’t fall away as a lamb falls off a steep cliff. Christian parents and grandparents take seriously the commitment to raise the children in the knowledge and love of the Lord. They stand on biblical teachings, obey God’s Word, worship faithfully, pray without stopping, surrender to God’s plan and his will for their lives, love and care for others, and share their faith story.

My mentor and friend who is now in her 80s told me that she began to love Jesus on a Sunday morning when a pastor walked by her family’s house on the way to church. She was five years old, playing in the front yard when he asked her from the sidewalk if she would like to go to Sunday school. They went to ask her parents’ permission, and she held his hand the whole way! He stopped by her front gate to take her hand every Sunday after that. Eventually her parents joined her at church and the family members were baptized, faithfully serving the Lord for the rest of their lives. The Spirit is so powerful! It only takes a spark!

Don’t ever doubt God’s plan or the fuel he provides through the Holy Spirit! A 94 year old man, whose family members were Christians yet he had never acknowledged God as his Maker and Savior, lay on his deathbed. His family prayed and sang at his bedside. He asked to be baptized and became God’s child that same day. The next morning, Jesus took him to his heavenly home with live with him. Another Spirit-driven spark!

Our elderly neighbor had just buried his wife of 65 years. During lunch together, I reminded him that he would see his beloved again in heaven. “Are you sure?” He shook his head in half belief. “I never thought I was good enough to go to heaven.” I simply explained Jesus’ promise of salvation to all who believe, and that we need do nothing more. Jesus has done it ALL for us all. His eyes brightened, his smile widened, and he tearfully exclaimed, “Then I believe! Thank you for telling me that! What a promise to hold onto!” The Holy Spirit provided the spark!

A convict spent a few years in prison before finally going to a prison ministry Bible study. The pastor leader of the group eventually baptized Jon at his request. Through fellowship in the Bible study group, Jon heard and experienced God’s love and forgiveness for him. Now he and his family faithfully worship and live Spirit-filled lives.

It’s never too late … but why wait? Share Jesus with someone every day!

4—Living Humbly According to God’s Plan

Psalm 25:8-9—Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.

Isaiah 66:2—But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

James 4: 6, 10—God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble … Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.

1 Peter 5:6—Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

1 Peter 5:10—And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (What a promise!)

Micah 6:8—What does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

What does this look like in the Christian home?
When Jesus lives in our hearts and in our homes, he is the one we want to focus on in everything that we do and say. (Yes, in a perfect Christian home, but there’s no such thing!) We each sin every day, and we don’t always walk humbly with him or show love and kindness to others.

As we do our best to keep Jesus our priority and humble ourselves to him and to our family members, we rely on the work of the Holy Spirit. At our Baptism, the Spirit began the faith in us that grows through hearing and reading the Bible and through the Holy Supper where we eat Jesus’ body and drink his blood that he gave for the forgiveness of all our sins.

We teach our children to pray The Lord’s Prayer, the same words he taught his disciples (followers) as he sat with them.

We teach our children The Ten Commandments to serve as a rule, a curb, and a mirror in our lives, showing us God’s rules for us to live as his children.

We say the Christian creeds together as reminders of who God is, what he does, and how he loves us unconditionally.

We pray and worship together as a family.

(If you would like resources to become more familiar with the prayers, commandments and creeds, ask a pastor or a friend to show you the printed words in a Bible, Luther’s Small Catechism, or a hymnal. Also see resources listed at the end of this article.)

We show kindness and love to others as we live humbly and live our faith. We don’t do any of this for publicity or payment. When the Spirit lives in us, he gives us the power and courage to show our faith in action—to serve him and others with smiles and cheerfulness. The Spirit helps us to show and share Jesus’ love, so that when someone looks at us and hears us, they see and hear the love of Jesus. They see and hear HIM.

Being a humble Christian and living in humility doesn’t mean we must give up what God has given to us as blessings such as our homes, cars, clothes, vacations. It means that we use and share what he gives us with grateful hearts and with cheerful giving from our hearts. The Spirit helps us live in Jesus’ joy, respect and honor others, and walk humbly with Jesus as his early Christian church friends and disciples did.

Our children “catch” humility by watching and hearing us. Do we boast about our education, possessions, travel, friends, social standing and financial status? Or do we “live our last faith today” with thanksgiving for God’s gifts, respect for others, and love for those who may be very different than we are?

When our children come home from school or activities and talk about how someone is very different spiritually, socially, and culturally, we can listen well and guide them to remember that each is God’s child, created and loved by him. Jesus helps us to walk as humble people of God and show loving kindness.

What if you or your children sometimes feel like you’re being used as a doormat? Go directly to Scripture and read what God says about walking humbly with him, and how through the Spirit living in your heart makes you full of the fruit of the Spirit — peaceful, joyful, kind and more! Pray with your child when he or she feels belittled and berated, bullied or not accepted by others. God alone can work miracles and change a person’s heart and attitude in his time. Pray and trust.

5—Respecting Each Other as God’s Dear Child

1 Peter 3:15—In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect …

Genesis 1:27—So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

1 Corinthians 4:16—I urge you, then, be imitators of me. (Paul writes to the people of Corinth that as he tries to imitate Christ Jesus, those who copy him will copy Jesus.)

What does this look like in the Christian home?
When God makes us in his image and we become his dear children through water and the Word in Baptism, the Holy Spirit then LIVES in us, guides us, helps us, and comforts us in all our days.

That’s a great concept to believe, but how can we show it every day? How can we set boundaries and respect them? Show appreciation and support for each other? Live as a family-team? Work through challenges together? You and your family can talk about real life and listen to each other’s insights.

Envision and talk about your responses to these situations:

How would we greet our spouse, parents, and children after waking up and coming to the breakfast table?

How would we respond to others with whom we share transportation—in a car, on a bus or train, on an airline flight or cruise ship?

What would our attitude and greeting be as we walk into our workplace? Into school? Into our music lesson or sports practice?

What would we say and do when coming home for the day and seeing three loads of laundry waiting, a sink full of used dishes, a bedroom or family room in disarray from a “hurricane of neglect”?

What would our response be to a phone call that a co-worker is very ill, that a friend’s spouse died, that a classmate was in a car accident, that a neighbor miscarried a baby?

What would your actions look like and your words sound like for a friend going through a separation or a divorce?

Think of other life-related situations when our respect and honor for another is important, and how you would be pro-active rather than reactive. If we truly are made in God’s image, that means God loves us perfectly, dearly, and is 100% all in, all the time. If we are to imitate Jesus, that also means he asks us to be all in all the time to those in our family and in our life’s circle! So again, doesn’t this mean we are to live our last day faith today and be the hands and feet of our Lord no matter what someone believes, works as, looks like, or where they lay their heads at night?

Jesus asked a woman from Samaria to give him a drink one day. (See John 4:7-30.) Though Jesus was Jewish and she was a Samaritan, he respected her, listened to her (while knowing everything about her), and gave her the “water of life”. Jesus teaches us that every person is valuable to him!

How precious our children are to us! How are we demonstrating that to our children?

6—Living in God’s Healing Love

Matthew 15:30-31—Great crowds came to Jesus, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them … they glorified the God of Israel.

Luke 9:41-43—“Bring your son here.” While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astonished at the majesty of God.

Luke 17:11-19—Jesus healed ten men who had leprosy. One man came back to thank Jesus! “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

1 John 1:9—If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Colossians 3:13-14—Put on then … compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Romans 14:8—For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord.

What does this look like in a Christian home?
God gives us many different examples in the Bible that show us how his love and forgiveness heals people.

Whether we are afflicted by physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or social pain, God in his mercy can and will heal in his time and his way. Just as those in biblical times followed him, kneeled before him begging to be healed, grabbed the hem of his robe, gazed into his eyes and prayed, and even prayed from far away, we too can beg the Lord to heal us and our loved ones. Jesus wants to hear our prayers. He wants us to pray without stopping. He answers every prayer according to his will.

We all know someone who is suffering and living with challenges, someone who needs healing. Remember to let your child hear you pray for yourself, for family members and for others. Use simple words in your conversation with God. You disciple your children by showing them examples of Christ-centered living. Praying is one of the most important habits for a child to learn. Pray with your child for his or her friends. Use simple, conversational language as you’re talking to your BEST friend!

Maybe Jonathan is spiritually dead to Christ and lives with no hope for the future. We can pray for him! We can visit him, read Scripture verses to him that emphasize what Jesus has done on the cross to save all people, including him. We can tell our faith stories to him and share how the Holy Spirit has helped us grow in our faith and our living for him. Jesus healed and still heals those who have not yet become alive in Christ, with a “rebirth” and a baptism into the Christian family. We can remind him that our Creator God welcomes every person and him into his family, where he is loved unconditionally, where his sins are made white as snow, and where someday he is promised an eternal life in heaven!

Maybe Isabel is emotionally and socially angry and hurt. Maybe she has low self-worth, is bullied, doesn’t experience successes in her schoolwork and friend relationships. Maybe she doesn’t feel like she even belongs in the family. She needs to hear how much Jesus loves her because God made her and wants the very best for her! We can love on her with multitudes of hugs, smiles, kind words, quiet listening times, and always invite her to be part of the family and friends’ activities. We can pray for her heart to burst with the joy of being truly loved!

Maybe preemie Jonah has been in the NICU (neo-natal intensive care unit) and his family members are so separated, spreading themselves thin between home life, work life, and visiting their ill baby. Jesus hears our prayers for him. We can be part of a “meal train” to provide healthy dinners during this extra stressful time. We can offer childcare for older siblings, transportation to school events, and housecleaning tasks. We can give Jonah’s parents respite care so they can have couple time to simply rest and communicate with each other. Jesus hears the prayers of his people as we persistently come to him asking for physical healing for those who are suffering. A family can make cards, phone calls, and text to simply remind someone “I’m praying for you.” “I care about you.” “Jesus loves you and so do we.” Adults can offer a ride to doctors’ appointments and accompany those who have mobility problems to assure their safety, as well as be a second set of ears and eyes for them.

Maybe your family has a neighbor who is fearful of leaving home, not willing to socialize, being a pariah and avoiding contact with the world on the other side of her door. Maybe Savanna has PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) from traumatic events in the military. Or Scott has no family or close friends to help get him to a handicap-accessible grocery store. Parents and children can take baby steps with those who suffer in various ways. Offer to teach them how to order food and items online, volunteer to make short visits on their front porches where you can build a friendship through listening. Simply ask what someone needs and how you might help.

In many of the Bible’s healing stories, Jesus not only heals those with physical problems, but he also casts out demons and heals spiritually. Jesus knows each of our hearts. Whether someone is demonically possessed or rejecting that God is King, Jesus has the power to transform a person’s heart, mind and soul. Christian parents and grandparents can help children understand and call on Jesus to use His power in a family member or friend’s life when needed. We live in God’s love and share it as we pray and care for others whether they are nearby or across the world.

Involve your children in a rich prayer life. Post prayer needs on a whiteboard and lift those up to the Lord after a meal. Pray for each family after receiving a Christmas card. Pray short “arrow prayers” as you drive children to music lessons, sports, preschool, and more. Pray with those you visit who are homebound or in nursing homes. Make prayer an important part of your family life.

Martin Luther wrote: “Father and Mother are apostles, bishops and priests to their children, for it is they who make them acquainted with the gospel.” Amen! Christian education begins in the home. God provides the tools that we need in his Word and he quips us to do his work.

7—Sharing the Joy Jesus Gives

Nehemiah 8:10—The joy of the LORD is your strength.

Romans 15:13—May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Galatians 5:22—But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control …

What does this look like in a Christian home?
When your feet touch the floor each morning, what is your first thought? Maybe you think of all the things on your To-Do list for the day. Some might carry over the anger or bitterness from a fight the day before. Others’ thoughts might land on an upcoming test that stresses them, financial burdens to solve and bills to pay, or if they’ll make it to work on time. Starting a new day by immediately dwelling on heavy thoughts or by checking our social media accounts can be mentally exhausting and unhealthy.
Christian parents and grandparents will want to create a new habit of including the Lord in the first minutes of the day. Lie in bed awakening slowly or sit on your bed’s edge as you breathe deeply in and out, close your eyes, and say or sing, “This is the day the LORD has made; l will rejoice and be glad in it!” (Psalm 118:24) Do this with your children too! Then thank God for the new day he has given you. Begin your conversation with God by praising him and thanking him for your restful sleep, for a loved one who is getting healthy, for a special celebration in your family. Ask God for protection for a family member who is traveling, who is ill, who is lonely. Tell God your worries and trustingly give them to him as you let go of control. Tell God thanks for giving Jesus to save you and all people from sin, and for the forgiveness that frees us to live as his people. So begin your day by praying!

St. Augustine is credited with saying, “The one who sings prays twice.” Someone special in our family is constantly singing praise songs and hymns. Her sweet praises float up to the Lord as beautiful prayers as she works and plays during the day. Even her humming favorite “Jesus songs” is worshipful, and her soul and her whole being is filled with the joy of the Lord! Your children will “catch the joy” that bubbles over in your life because of what Jesus has done for you in his great love. They will mimic your words and actions and the Spirit will live in their hearts, and help them demonstrate Jesus’ joy to those around them. Wouldn’t it be great if someone asked you, “Why are you always smiling? What makes you so happy?” And you could share, “Jesus! Only Jesus! Do you know him? Do you know what he has done for you?” There’s a favorite early childhood song that goes, “Oh, you can’t keep Jesus’ love in a box, love in a box, love in a box. Oh, you can’t keep Jesus’ love in a box, ‘cause his love will keep bubblin’ through.” (“Love in a Box” from Concordia Publishing House [CPH] can be found on YouTube. This song is also printed in the songbook “Little Ones Sing Praise”, CPH.) Sing with your child from their time in the womb until they’re old enough to rock you! Let them hear your praises to God. “Songs of God’s Love” (CPH) is another printed songbook and CD set to use in your home and car as you sing Jesus songs with your child.

Be excited about going to worship and Bible class. Talk about what you’re hearing and learning. Act on those God truths in your daily life. Be in the Word. Take your child to be baptized, and celebrate his or her “second birthday” on that baptismal anniversary by lighting a candle as a reminder of the Spirit living in your child. Jesus is the Light of the world, and the Spirit grows faith in our hearts and helps us to live as lights for others to know and love Jesus. Be joyful in prayer, telling Jesus and others “I’m sorry”, asking for forgiveness and celebrating the blessings he gives us each day.

When the forgiving father welcomed his runaway son home after all his bad behavior, and treated him like a prince, throwing a feast and clothing him like royalty, he was JOYFUL! He celebrated the blessing of family and let his son know he forgave him with his kind and warm welcome. (Read the story of the Forgiving Father and the Prodigal Son together in Luke 15:11-32.) Ask your child what makes him or her feel the joy that comes from Jesus. And really listen.

A teacher hung a colorful banner in her first grade classroom. It had big yellow happy faces on it and it said, “Kindness counts.” It wasn’t about Math and counting. It was a visual reminder that with Jesus’ help, each person in that classroom had the power to add JOY to the friends and teacher there. Each person, when remembering Jesus’ love, had the ability to show kindness to others, to have compassion and empathy, and to make the others’ day at school together filled with joy and happiness. We can remember those two words also in our homes and workplaces, church families, and even when on vacations. Kindness counts and leads to joy. Our daily priorities can be “Jesus—Others—Yourself “ and joyful living will be a positive result!

If we were the child coming home from school, being taken to and from childcare, being dropped off at activities, beginning to date, starting college away from home, what would we want our adults’ faces to look like? Our adults’ voices to sound like? Think how joy-filled and peaceful our family members’ lives can be when we focus on Jesus’ love and forgiveness!

Many Hearts, One Body
A quilt has many pieces, each one with a different shape and color and pattern. When sewn together, those pieces make up one unique and beautiful quilt. When God the Holy Spirit begins to live in our hearts at Baptism and grows our faith, the hearts of all believers belong to God’s family, his one body in Christ Jesus. The Spirit “stitches us together” in strong love and communion with one another. You and your children are special pieces of that quilt, that “one body” in Christ, connected to the family of God.
God loves us unconditionally, perfectly, because he is God. He helps us parents and grandparents through faith to love our children like Jesus loves them. Though we’re human, sinful people, God gives us his Word and sacraments to continue to believe, trust, grow and nurture our faith and the faith of our children. The Spirit is alive in us!

Our goal is to use the keys that God gives to us to open the doors to Christ-like living through each age and stage of our family’s living.

  • Remember Timothy’s mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois and how they raised Timothy to love Jesus and others and to remain in his Word. (2 Timothy 1:1-14) They taught Timothy that God was the cornerstone of a Christian’s life. Timothy grew in God’s Word, the foundation of his faith life.
  • When God blessed Hannah with the son she had long prayed for, she dedicated Samuel to serving God in the temple with Eli the priest. Samuel learned from Eli, listened to God’s calling and followed him. God gave Samuel many stepping stones as he served as one of God’s prophets. (1 Samuel chapters 1-3)
  • God gave Mary and Joseph trust to believe his promise of a Savior and guided them in raising the new King. (Matthew chapters 1-2) Jesus taught his followers/disciples trust and commitment as they learned from him and grew faithful to him. God helps us adult caregivers in our children’s lives in rock climbing the walls of life’s situations and he catches us with his forgiveness when we stumble and fall. God is our life-line!
  • With praise and thanksgiving and great excitement, Simeon and Anna spoke and sang as they met infant Jesus at his presentation in the temple of Jerusalem! (Luke 2:22-38) They had waited their entire lives for this revelation from God! They experienced a mountain climbing thrilling event as Simeon gave his blessing on the family and Anna told everyone why she was on such a “high peak” in her life and full of thanksgiving!

We will feel overwhelmed and under-prepared, ill-equipped and reaching for life-lines! We can’t do it all. We don’t need to do it all by ourselves. Remember Philippians 4:19 — My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

His promise means that he will guarantee all the blessings Jesus secured for us on his cross — salvation, forgiveness, loving care. It doesn’t mean God will give us earthly prosperity and monetary riches. His “riches in glory” includes making us part of his family, in communion with him through his Word and Spirit. He gives us the key to TRUST his promises! He gives us the spiritual gifts we need to help our children. All other blessings are bonuses. Remember that our children will “know we are Christians by our love.” (1 John 3:11-24;4:7-21)

A Prayer for Christian Parents and Grandparents
God has given you the utmost responsibility in raising your children to follow Him, obey Him, and serve Him. You are not alone. You have the best helper who is always right beside you. However happy, sad, anxious, disappointed, ill or excited you may feel at times, God wants you to call on him through prayer to ask him for help, thank him for all his blessings and to remember he always provides what you need in his time.

God our Father,
You’ve given us your precious children on loan, to love and protect, to care for the best we can with your help. For each of these children, we praise and thank you! We ask you to bless our family according to your plan. Protect and save us from all evil and harm. Keep us always growing in your Word, believing and trusting in you, asking for your forgiveness and forgiving others when we have sinned. Thank you for walking with us every step of our lives, for helping us witness to your beautiful creation and love for all.

Jesus our Savior,
You’ve loved us so much that you’ve taken all our sins with you to your cross where you’ve paid for our eternal life with your body and blood. Thank you simply isn’t enough to tell you. We want to show our thanks to you each day! Help us to praise and thank you and live our gratitude every day through our actions and words. Thank you for forgiving us and for helping us give forgiveness to others. Be near us as we play, work, and interact with others so that they may come to know you and believe you are our Savior and King. We live in thanks-living to you!

Holy Spirit, our Helper,
You’ve begun our faith growth since the moment we were baptized as God’s dear children. You live in our hearts, help us learn more about Jesus every day, and guide us to share you with others. You help us communicate with our family and friends, comfort us and lead us to say we’re sorry when we sin against God. Thank you for your power and courage to live as God’s children. Help us to lead our children with strong Christian conviction, and give us what we need to live according to God’s will. You are our gift-giver! Thank you for the spiritual gifts you give to each of us as we follow Jesus and witness to others about Jesus’ love and forgiveness. Especially help us to do this within our family life with joy and patience, so that our children will grow in the love of the Lord.

We pray all this in Jesus’ name, who taught us also to pray:

Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13 KJV)


Additional Resources for Parents and Grandparents — A Sampling (Family Shield Ministries)

Programs/Family Ministry

Building Blocks for Impacting Your Grandchildren
Prayer Cube for Helping Children Learn to Pray
Grandparents as Mentors of Faith
Prayerfully Parenting Teens
Let’s Grow Strong Christian Families

Books & Products

Let’s Walk and Pray
How to Share Our faith in Daily Life
Balance Christ-Filled Living (Concordia Publishing House, an arm of the Lutheran Church—16Missouri Synod)

Bibles (Children—see age suggestions on the web site)

The Story Bible
Faith Alive Student Bible
The Growing in Faith Bible
The Growing in Faith Bible Storybook
The Hear Me Read Bible (Levels 1 & 2)
My First Bible


The Lutheran Study Bible ESV (study notes included; also available in large print)
The Holy Bible ESV
Today’s Light Devotional Bible

Devotions & Prayer


Happy Times (individual issues and subscriptions)
My Devotions (individual and subscriptions)
Behold the Child
Portals of Prayer for Kids

A Child’s Garden of Prayer


Portals of Prayer (subscription)
Strength for the Day (individual or subscription)
Be Gracious to Me
Words of Peace and Protection (for women)
Witnesses to Christ
Engaging the Psalms
On the Go Prayers for Busy Families
Foundations in Faith: The Lord’s Prayer

Books to Help Families Grow in Faith

Unforgivable? How God’s Forgiveness Transforms Our Lives
Loving Jesus, Died for Me
Leaning on Jesus: A Study of God’s Strength
Inspired by the Holy Spirit: Four Habits for Faithful Living
Lutheranism 101 for Kids
Lutheranism 101—All about Jesus
Lutheranism 101—Worship
Lutheranism 101—The Lord’s Supper
Lutheranism 101—Holy Baptism
God Makes Me His Child in Baptism
Family Trees & Olive Branches
Family Faith Walks
Prayers for Kids
Luther’s Small Catechism for Kids
Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation
College 101—Campus Life for Christians
Songs Kids Love to Sing (book and cds)
Little Ones Sing Praise
The Lutheran Service Book (LSB—hymnal)
Our Faith from A to Z (NEW!)

+++ To God be the glory! +++

Jane Elling Haas is a retired commissioned Lutheran Day School teacher and curriculum editor. She continues to write freelance articles and gift others with her photography. She enjoys puppet ministry with children and serves as a Stephen Minister. God has blessed her as a wife, mother and grandmother with a supportive Christ-centered family. She dedicates this article to her sainted parents, Al and Ginny Elling, who created their family home as a place of grace. © Jane Elling Haas 2024