One guideline to remember is that how you engage your children must always depend on their age, maturity, and personality. I've noticed that with many parenting blogs and sites, the term "child" is used indiscriminately, without respect to age. But obviously, parenting a preschooler requires very different techniques and applications then a pre-teen, although the principles may remain the same.
Here are some thoughts for how to help your child grow spiritually in a some different disciplines (speaking to parents here; for children's ministry programming, there would be parallel but some different applications):
- Bible knowledge. There are a number of Bibles and Bible storybooks that are great for kids. In our experience, we've continually changed how we taught our kids the Bible, depending on our kids' ages, what others recommend, and what we feel like doing. At different times, we have read straight from the Bible (through a book like Genesis, Exodus, or a Gospel account), Bible storybooks, devotionals, and activity-based materials (such as Family Nights from Heritage Builders). Sometimes it has gone really well, and sometimes not so much. The important thing is just to do something. Doing something -- anything -- even if it's not great, is better than nothing.
- Giving. At a young age, you need to dictate how much they give and in what proportions. As they get older, they need to have more decision-making, but you still play a big role in directing them. Read more in the post How Can I Teach My Child to Be Generous?
- Relationships. Especially at a young age, you control their level of community. At every age of life, community is important; there is deep and lasting value in being connected to others. Many moms take part in play groups and invite their child's friends over, which is a great way to show hospitality. But don't underestimate how church can play a role. Be at church consistently, and be there for two services (to serve and to worship) if possible. We have seen this blessing in our children's lives, as they have been with nearly the same group of friends virtually every week, for 3.5 hours, for at least 3 years now. This is more than most adult small groups meet, and they have benefited from being in this level of community.
- Serving: Let them see and hear about you serving others. And intentionally look for opportunities to serve with them. They need your example and your direction. And when they are older you will be blessed as you see them desire to serve others.