One of the coolest things I started doing as a dad over a year ago is taking my oldest daughter, Morgan, out for a "date" every Friday. Actually, it's a very intentional discipleship time where we talk about God, life, etc. Got the idea from a guy named Mark Batterson, pastor of NCC in DC. He had blogged about doing something like this with his son. I started this when Morgan was 9 --- now she is 10. I'm planning on doing this with each of my children when they turn 8 (I have 4 kids --- going to be busy!). Not sure at what age it may end. Just want it to be natural. Over the past year Morgan has read a couple books of the Bible, as well as several other books, she's learned more about praying, and serving, and even learned some pretty deep Biblical concepts/words. I believe that it is my job (along with my wife) to invest in my children and share with them God's truth, etc. It an awesome responsibility.
Wanted to share the "system" Morgan and I have developed over the past year. We spend the same time every Friday out at a local cafe or restaurant where she gets a "treat." Her favorite place is Starbuck's (some of you are like "sure" - you think I brainwashed her - but I'm serious - not that I complain when she chooses it!). We spend about 30-45 minutes together. The first 10 minutes or so is just talking about life, etc. Then we get into her Bible reading assignment. I have her read 2 chapters of the Bible a week. She handles it just fine. Right now she is reading the Gospel of Matthew and Psalms. She did all of Genesis already, along with a couple shorter books. I have her underline stuff in her Bible (I let her pick out any Bible she wanted when we started all this) that she thinks is cool or makes her go "wow." I have her put question marks by stuff she doesn't understand. Lots of question marks at her age - but makes for great conversation. After the Bible section, we talk about a second book she is reading. I have her read another book along with the Bible - one chapter a week. She's read several this year - 2 CS Lewis Narnia books, a kid's version of "Pilgrim's Progess," a book about Corrie Ten Boom, one about Esther, and several others. We talk about that for a bit. Then we make go over the prayer list she made out the week prior. We talk about the prayers God may have answered, or didn't, or if we aren't sure if He did. Then we make a new prayer list for the coming week. Anything she wants to pray for. After that - we discuss what we call her "Serve Challenge" - every week she decides something she will do for someone else. Could be someone in our family, a friend, anyone. She has to accomplish that thing during the week. We talk about how that went, then think up a new creative thing to do for someone the next week. Just recently we've also added either scripture memorization (key Bible verses about God's love, her identity - girls can struggle with that, etc) or we have a Biblical word/concept she learns about. For instance - right now she's learning about the word "Trinity" and how that relates to the Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
Sounds like alot, but she has pretty easily worked this into her life and has become much more disciplined. Two things I'm praying come of all this ---- 1)She falls in love with God her Father and learns the discipline of spending time with Him that will last a lifetime, and 2) She knows her earthly daddy loves her and spent time with her consistently. She definitely won't remember everything we talked about. That's not the point. But to know she is loved by God and by me is something I'm praying desperately for.