As a youth pastor, one of the most important things that we can focus on is teaching our students well. We usually don’t get a lot of hours with our students, so we have to maximize the time and influence that we have. That means that we have to teach fruitful material, and we have to teach it competently. As a parent, I’m convinced that even though we have lots of time with our children, not all of it is spent teaching our children and discipling them purposefully. Therefore, just as with pastoring, I think parents need to learn the skills of having deliberate conversations with their children.
The struggle with this is that for many of us (myself included), we don’t have a lot of experience with good models for how to do this. I for one didn’t grow up having a lot of good conversations about life with my parents. Not because they didn’t care, but it wasn’t their parenting style. We were more about doing things for one another than we were about talking to each other.
And that’s why I’m so excited about Natasha Crain’s latest book, Talking with Your Kids about God. (Her first book, Keeping your Kids on God’s Side: 40 Conversations to Help Them Build a Lasting Faith is a must-read as well.) Even more than her last book, it feels like she’s coaching us through how we have deep conversations with our children. The book is divided into 5 sections, and each section contains:
- 3 Keys for maximizing the conversations with our children. These are the 3 “goals” for the sections.
- 6 Questions related to the section. This is the meat of the book, as Natasha provides a model for how she has engaged her children with these questions and the answers she’s guided them to. This is where Natasha’s knowledge, style, and flow help us as parents and youth workers to understand how best to answer the topics covered.
- Each of the chapters (6 questions) ends with a conversation guide designed with starter questions we can ask our children, as well as tips for application.
The book’s strength is in her connection with the home. Natasha’s illustrations are straight from her own family’s life: a treadmill accident, a broken scale, a neighbor’s ball that rolled into her yard. These help us as parents make connections between everyday occurrences and an opportunity to talk to our children about God.
I think this book is going to be helpful for multiple audiences:
For parents who aren’t “readers” or are intimidated by the description of the book, please don’t be. I think if you look at the questions she covers, you’ll see how relevant these are to the culture we live in right now. These topics and questions are probably things that we’ve all asked ourselves or wondered. That’s what makes this book so accessible. Natasha takes relevant theological and philosophical topics and not only provides answers to the questions we have, but she trains us on how to approach these questions with our own children.
Or maybe you’re a parent with a pretty good grip on apologetics and theology and you’re wondering what value this book could bring in your already stuffed bookshelf? Talking with Your Kids About God is worth reading because the parenting lens through which she discusses these questions with us is designed to help the family slow down and think carefully through what we believe and why. I love that this is a book mainly about asking good questions to our children and being equipped to answer good questions from them.
For my fellow youth workers: this is a great resource for doing a Q&A series. We all know it’s good to provide our students with opportunities to ask questions. If we don’t provide that for them, they’ll ask those questions elsewhere and we can’t guarantee that they’ll get the right answers. This book is awesome for setting up a time for us to ask good questions of our students and help them wrestle with the answers. I can’t imagine a better way for students to come to grips with their own faith than asking questions in a safe environment.
For anyone in a family ministry or director role: this is a great resource for training parents on how to engage with deeper conversations with their children on spiritual matters. If we could give the churches in our families the tools they need to have rich, spiritual conversations with their children, wouldn’t we jump all over it? This book will definitely provide you with a solid foundation to start.