Bringing the Faith Home
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
Many churches work hard to involve families, kids, and youth in the church. Congregational activities such as Palm Sunday processions, Lenten passion plays, and/or Christmas pageants hold a special place in the hearts of many. (Not to mention the years of children’s sermons and Sunday School!) While they can be helpful and fun for kids, too often these activities become more of a cultural tradition than a means of instilling faith in the next generation. A great way to take faith formation a step further is for churches and families to work towards having at- home family lessons and devotions.
It may seem daunting to have more resources for families, as so many churches already have busy volunteers and staff, but it can be simple to connect families with devotions. A popular and easy way is incorporating important days and seasons in the church year. For example, some churches have a special service shortly before Advent season starts, which includes family activities such as constructing an Advent wreath or a log with a series of candles. This is then followed by a family devotion, and a take-home booklet is given for individual family devotion time. This pattern can easily be adapted for many seasons and festivals throughout the church year, like Transfiguration Sunday and Ash Wednesday.
Some churches hold fairs during the year, where they make available devotion resources for families with children of all ages. This is particularly useful to equip families for summer months, when the ability to build devotions off of normal resources like Sunday School and midweek services aren’t available, since they ajorn for many weeks.
Here are some more ideas to get started from Hannah Knehans, Director of Family Life at Trinity Lutheran Church in Springfield who uses these hands on activities in order to help parents engage with their kids for the Gospel message.
“We had families bring blank pages home with illustration prompts, then the Sunday School kids brought those illustrations back to church and I added them to a member- written devotion book. We handed those out for Lent and Easter. They were written for whole families to do together. We
also did a family Easter event with an egg hunt, but the main activity was families making a craft together that followed the passion. Last year it was a resurrection garden, and this year it was a candle with colored layers to represent the days of Holy Week. We sent each family home with ways to dig deeper into Bible Study.”
Congregations like Trinity and others across the District have been taking the time to work with families, focusing on what parents can do to share the Gospel with their children in addition of what might be called “church time.” Their results and impact are amazing. Realizing that parents are often the first exposure that children might have to the saving message of Jesus Christ, take steps like home devotions and activities to help all families in your congregation grow in the faith.