Seize the Summer for Christ

by Stephen Rhoda

As summer draws near, the challenge before us is to “seize the summer.”  Children and young people might be thinking about that essay they’ll be assigned to write in the fall answering the question, “What did you do over summer vacation?” and they might plan now to make the most of their time and opportunity.  But what about parents?  They might best prepare for summer by way of a different question.  Parents might seize the summer by asking, “What can I do over summer vacation to nurture and develop my child’s faith in Christ?”  And instead of just driving kids to Bible School, summer camp, and youth group outings, parents can plan their own strategies and activities for discipling their children.

So here are some ideas and suggestions:

1. Bible Reading ~  Implement a summer Bible reading program for your child or children.  Have them read for a half hour to an hour each day, perhaps five out of seven days each week.  Sit down with them and ask them to choose one of the Gospels and/or one of the narrative books of the Old Testament for their reading.  Check on their progress regularly, marking off chapters on a chart until they are finished.  Then ask them to choose another book of the Bible.  For children not yet reading, set aside time to read to them directly from Scripture.

2. Bible Memorization ~  Challenge your children to memorize a Psalm or some other passage of moderate length.  Perhaps you might start with around ten verses and see how long, with regular encouragement, it takes them to memorize the passage.  Another approach would be to choose one passage for the whole family and practice together each time you have family devotions.  Type and print the verses out on your computer so each member of your family can have their own copy.

3. Confessional Reading ~  Don’t forget to include the confessions in your child’s summer reading.  Remember that the confessions are a summary statement of the main teachings of God’s Word.  They must not replace our direct reading and study of Scripture, but they can greatly enhance and guide our learning of the central teachings of God’s Word.  Sadly many Christians who are members of confessional churches have never even read all the confessions of their church.  If this is you, challenge yourself to take up the confessions in your own summer reading.

4. Theological Study ~  Keep in mind that theology is simply the study of the central teachings of God’s Word.  By way of a concordance or a topical or analytical Bible, choose several passages, perhaps even up to a dozen, that together form a particular teaching of Scripture.  Have your child read and study the passages and form in their mind or even write down what the Bible teaches about, for example, justification, heaven and hell, or how God works by Word and Spirit, or who Christ is, etc.

5. Church History ~  Church history obviously isn’t Scripture, but it’s value and importance is huge.  Choose a character from church history, such as Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Knox or Spurgeon, or choose a specific event or era in church history, like the Reformation or the Great Awakening, and lead your child to explore and study the topic.  Searches on the internet and trips to a public library can provide some material, but Christian publishers are likely to yield the most accurate information.

6. List Memorization ~ There are certain lists or groups of things that our children just need to have memorized.  Such memorization will serve to instill in them the importance of knowing God’s Word and the history of redemption.  Choose one or more of the following to work on through the summer: Books of the Bible (Bible Index), six days of creation (Genesis 1), Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), twelve tribes of Israel (Genesis 49; Study Bible Maps), Beatitudes (Matthew 5), twelve disciples of Christ (Matthew 10:1-4), fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), armor of God (Ephesians 6:14-20).

7. “Porch Swing Discipleship” ~ No discipleship effort is complete, no matter how comprehensive, without simple conversation.  We learn this aspect of discipleship from Christ Himself as He spent time with His disciples, sometimes teaching them directly, but other times in more casual conversation and answering their questions.  Summertime might afford additional time and opportunity for parents just to talk with their children.  Use the things above, along with sermons and other Bible lessons, to prompt your questions.  Ask your child, “So what are you reading in your Bible this week?  What did you learn from the sermon this morning?  Are you remembering to spend time in prayer?  Have you been thinking about making a profession of your faith in Christ?”  Even comments making reference to trusting Christ, following Christ, and witnessing for Christ, can make a huge difference and have a significant impact upon a child’s faith.  In the end, all such conversation should become natural and inherent to our family life, as we are called “talk of [God’s Word] when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:7)

Of course, these suggestions can also be taken as challenges in a parent’s personal discipleship as well.  We must be intentional and active disciples of Christ before we can have the greatest effect upon our children.  So are there books of the Bible that you’ve never read or haven’t studied for a long time?  Are there doctrines that you claim to believe but really couldn’t explain if asked?  Do you know where Scripture teaches central doctrines like the divinity of Christ, justification by faith, the Triune Being of God, etc.?  Being a disciple of Christ should not be a seasonal endeavor, but again, summertime might provide the impetus to recommit ourselves and launch new efforts to study God’s Word and glory in Christ Jesus.

I hope the summer of 2010 proves to be a significant time for you as a parent and disciple of Christ!