Surfing the Waves

Joining kids as their interests and emotions flow in new directions

There’s a lot to discover about the excitement of a relationship with God! As we continue to disciple our children, we will find that their interest in spiritual things comes and goes in waves. One minute they love reading their Bible; the next it’s discarded in favour of YouTube worship videos; then you discover they are full of outrage about modern slavery.

Childhood and adolescence are periods of discovery, when children try different things before discovering what suits them best. We need to learn to ‘surf the waves’ of their interests, supporting and enabling them along the way.

You can also learn more about Surfing the Waves in Session 6 of the course.

How to spot a wave


What does your child focus on? It may be a TV programme, a series of books, a game or a hobby. This will give you a clue about what’s going on in their minds.


What is making your kids curious? Maybe they are fascinated by the idea of mission, or are hanging around with the tech people at church. Or are they curious about the book you are reading?


Do your kids get upset about injustices they see in the world? Do they talk about wanting to help or to change it?


When your kids role play stories with others or with their toys, are there any recurring themes, such as being the rescuer or the protector or always wanting to be the nurturer?


Children sometimes have ideas that seem to come from nowhere – wanting to do church at home, lighting a candle at mealtimes or sitting out on the hills at night to look at the stars. Perhaps these are driven by an emerging wave.


Children ask lots of questions, but sometimes they come out with several on the same topic or with really searching questions. This could indicate something that’s niggling them.

What do I do if...

My child shows no interest in anything spiritual?

You might not be able to spot any particular interest in God in your child, or they may be a teen who is pushing away from church, but it is unlikely that they have no interest at all. It just may not have a church tag on it. Many children are passionate defenders of the environment or have a keen sense of justice; others are very kind to others or naturally generous. Wait patiently; you will spot a wave!

He’s nothing like his brother?

Often siblings can be wired very differently. No matter how you’ve raised them or what your values are, your child has a unique spiritual make up that means they will have different waves of interest. Don’t be discouraged by this, and instead pay close attention to your children as individuals, no matter how similar they seem. You may see waves emerging from unexpected places.

I can’t keep up? Things keep changing so quickly!

Don’t worry! This is a time of experimentation and discovery, so see which waves are there to stay for a while rather than trying to do everything. Jump on board with them and facilitate – take them to that concert, or whatever – and don’t worry about missing waves. Surf the ones you see and the ones you know.

I don’t know how to surf this wave with them?

If you’re not sure where to begin, or want to proactively disciple your child in a particular skill or value, you can use the six-stage circle model. We model the skill, frame its importance, equip our child to use the skill, create opportunities for them to use it, establish boundaries as to how they use it, and finally feedback to them. But don’t worry about getting it perfectly right – support your child, encourage them and do what you can.

Key Tools
Five easy tools for ordinary parents to raise God-connected kids