Over the years, there has been an assumption that historical American values and Christian values are interchangeable. In many cases – like honesty – this may be true. There is one historically American value – self reliance – that isn’t one hundred percent Christian. While you don’t want your children to expect others to do everything for them – especially things they should be doing for themselves – there is much about self reliance that isn’t biblical at all.
Why? Because part of the foundation of Christianity is an acknowledgment that we can’t do it all ourselves. That we need God for forgiveness and to be able to spend eternity in Heaven. God also created the church to work as a body – together – to support one another and hold each other accountable for obedience to God’s commands and to work together – pooling their gifts to serve others and share their faith.
In our increasingly isolated, digital world, it can become easy for your children to grow up believing that they don’t need anyone in their lives. That the perfect virtual worlds they can create are better than the annoyances that come with interacting with real people. That they can please God as a Christian by watching services online and giving money virtually – no human interaction necessary.
There is a fun family devotional you can do to show your kids the importance of being involved as part of the Christian “team” and serving and sharing their faith with others IRL (in real life). Start by reading 1 Corinthians 12 to your family. Ask them what it means and why they believe Paul wrote it to the Corinthians. What was he encouraging them to do? Why? What are some reasons we are tempted to avoid interaction with other Christians? With people who need to be served and learn about God? Why does God expect us to do both? What are the advantages to being in a church family who obeys 1 Corinthians 12? What would it look like? What part of the body (their gifts, talents and opportunities) do they think they might be in your church now? In the congregation they attend as adults in the future?
To underscore how the Christian life is better lived in community, participate in one or more of these activities as a family. How did working together make it easier to succeed? What happened when someone didn’t carry their weight? How much harder, lonelier, etc. would the activity have been if done alone?
- Escape room. Check first to make sure the theme and activities are a match for your family. These are hard enough as a team and impossible if attempted alone.
- City scavenger hunt. You can often find these online. They involve going to an unfamiliar town or part of town and finding objects. Geo caching is similar and works well when everyone helps.
- Service project. Find one large enough that everyone in your family has to help to pull it off. We have tons of ideas for service projects on our website. Just click on the service tab to be taken to the list of service projects. http://teachonereachone.org/activity-ideas/
- Odyssey of the Mind Activities. Search online for free ideas. Look for activities that requiring the group to work together to solve a problem building something in a short amount of time. Most require lots of little things you probably have around your house.
- Cooking as a body. Find a recipe to cook together as a family. The twist is that each member can only be one body part. For example, Dad is the left arm, daughter the right arm, son the legs, mom the eyes, etc. So to get eggs out of the fridge will require two or three people to work together. The same with stirring (hand holding bowl so it doesn’t spin off the counter!) and other parts of cooking. You can also do this with any activity that requires using multiple body parts to complete it.
Have fun with it. Revisit the topic multiple times until you are confident your kids understand when self reliance is good and when they need to be in community or rely upon God.