Pro-Parenting Tip #1
I wish I could take credit for this idea, but I can’t. That’s fine because getting credit isn’t the goal. Children who love Jesus is the goal.
A few years ago I was at a conference, and one of the main speakers was a household name among evangelical Christians (not really surprising I guess). He was speaking on singing and church music as his assigned topic. Almost as an afterthought he mentioned a key part of he and his wife’s approach to child-rearing. Just an afterthought. It may have been 90 seconds of his 60-minute sermon, but what he said stuck. Like glue.
He said that more than anything else this practice made the most impact on their children to learn and retain Christian truth. More than family devotions. More than a few other things that I don’t even remember anymore. Enough chatter, Josh. What is it?
Play a variety of biblically-based Christian songs while your children are getting ready for school in the mornings.
Really?! “I can do that,” I thought to myself as I sat there in the cavernous convention hall.
Let’s break that tip down a little bit. Variety. Make a playlist that sounds like God’s playlist. If you want to know what God’s playlist is like, see the psalms. In the psalms you find songs of lament (35-40%), songs of confession, songs about the coming of the King, and, of course, songs of praise.
Why look for songs of lament for your children? Because life disappoints on a regular basis (even for kids), and songs of lament give us lyrics to “gripe” in a godly way. Why songs of confession? Because your kids (like their parents) sin often, and they need to know how to handle their guilt through the cross of Jesus. Why songs about the King’s coming? Because there’s more to life than here and now. Why songs of praise? Because God is worth them, 10,000 of them.
Biblically-based Christian songs. That sounds redundant, but it’s not. At Bethel we strive to sing songs that somehow tell the whole story of the Bible – Creation, Fall, Redemption, Re-creation. Not every verse of every song does that nor can do that, but it’s what we aim for. Lots of songs on Christian radio seek to inspire us. Lots of songs emphasize the positive or point us to God. The best songs show us Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. They lift us out of conviction with cross-centered truth. They get us through hard times with solid declarations of the good providence of a good God.
Getting ready for school. At first hearing (or reading) this might sound like an inopportune time. The kids are distracted. Life is hectic. The big test or the big game looms large. True, true. But let’s play the long game here. Play this music 2-3 times each week for about 9 months (take away the holidays) for 13 years. That’s about 1,200 times they will hear gospel truth through song.
What we’re banking on here is the maxim “more is caught than taught.” You know what happens when you hear a song in the morning – you’re humming it in the afternoon. That’s been my experience as we’ve done this regularly for a few years. We all pile in the car and someone is humming a song they just heard while packing their lunch or eating breakfast. Happened just the other day.
Now truth be told we played Bible memory songs and other Christian music when our children were toddlers and pre-schoolers. But somewhere along the line we stopped. The music didn’t fit their stage of life, or that CD was overused (what’s a CD???). We got out of the habit. We’re back in now!
So let’s get down to “brass tacks”. Over the last few years I’ve put together a playlist of almost 200 songs that would take almost 14 hours to play. It’s that big because when I first started I got some complaints that they kept hearing the same songs. Fair enough. It now takes weeks before they hear the same song twice, maybe even months because kids are in and out of the kitchen as they get ready. I pick songs we sing in church. I pick songs that my friends recommend on social media. I pick songs my kids recommend. I pick songs that fit the criteria above.
The best part right now is when one of our children is singing the praises of Jesus as a normal part of their day. The best part in the future will be when one of our children is singing the praises of Jesus as the normal way to get through the tough times of life.
Copy us. Edit your playlist. Play the songs.