Spiritual Conversations and Teachable Moments
I did a lot of growing in my faith in college. I think a lot of that growing can be attributed to the day-in and day-out walking alongside other friends who were hungry to know God more and having multiple moments in the week of learning from those who were ahead of me in the faith. That concentration of time produced a lot of conversation, growth, and advancement. I look back on college very fondly because of this.
Concentrated Amounts of Time
Jesus journeyed with his disciples for three years. They did life together and in walking with Jesus, the disciples were learning, growing, and being transformed to look more and more like their Lord and Savior. They were with him for a concentrated amount of time and Jesus used that time to invest in those who would carry the gospel to the ends of the earth after He was gone.
When we think about these concentrated amounts of time to pour into others and make disciples, they don't often happen in life except in one place—the home. As parents, we spend concentrated amounts of time with our kids for years—around 18 of them to be exact. Because of this, we do a lot of life with our kids and Jesus has given us an example of how to walk with and teach those we are in close proximity with.
We teach our children a lot of things, but we should be taking every opportunity to teach them about Christ. As we've been talking through discipling our kids, we said in the first week that most parents have a desire to be the primary disciplers of their kids, but they don't know how. We said in week two that if we really want to do this and we have older kids then we must count the cost and embrace the awkward. This week, we want to focus on what we're going to call spiritual conversations and teachable moments.
If you read the gospels and pay attention to Jesus with His disciples then you will notice that Jesus was always having spiritual conversations with His followers and was taking opportunity after opportunity for teachable moments. Just so we're clear, when we say spiritual conversations, we mean conversations had in every day life about God, Jesus, and things pertaining to faith. When we talk about teachable moments, we're referring to every day situations that present themselves as opportunities to teach our children (or others) about Jesus and the Christian life.
I find that spiritual conversations can most naturally happen by asking questions to the person you want to have a conversation with. My advice would be to genuinely be curious. I get to do this with students in student ministry all the time. I want to know about their lives and what is going on with them so I have to ask questions because they don't offer up much on their own. I might ask a student, "What's it like at home?" "What do you do for fun?" "What do most kids think about Jesus at school?" "Do any kids openly talk about Jesus at school?" These are all great conversation starters that give you a natural bridge to ask more questions and talk about things related to Christ and faith. Questions like these are easy and can happen all the time if you are intentional.
Other good conversation starters can be related to culture. You can ask things like, "Did you know that such and such sports player/actor/musician is a Christian?" "What do you think of such and such hot button issue going on right now?" "Why do you think this person behaved the way they did in this situation?" You can use these conversations to then transition to what the Bible says about the things going on or about living out your faith.
Teachable moments may be more self explanatory. You and your child are in a situation together and however it plays out, you then have an opportunity to review together. You can talk about what the Bible says about that situation. What went well in the situation and what went bad? How would the Bible inform us to handle it differently? Jesus used these all the time as He walked with His disciples. He would explain parables, He would talk to them about why they were unable to cast out demons, he would speak to them about faith after crowds dispersed, etc.
There are so many moments in life that can help us teach our kids about God. We just have to be paying attention and recognize them. We obviously need to be praying for the Spirit to help us see them as well. We've got to stay faithful in pointing our kids to Jesus and we have to trust that God will work through our faithfulness.
College was such a blessing to me as I pursued faith with friends and grew because the Spirit was using them to push me further. It wouldn't have been possible if it hadn't been for the close proximity and massive amounts of time I was able to spend with those people over a period of four years. Not all of our kids will have that kind of college experience, but they can have that kind of experience in their own home. Follow God's leading and be their primary discipler, embrace the awkward, and start seizing the opportunities for spiritual conversations and teachable moments.