“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1 NIV) Your kids need to be able to “see” God as one of the very basic parts of their faith foundation. The Bible tells us one of the best ways to see God is in His creation.
There’s a fun way to have a family Bible study time, enjoy God’s creation and teach your kids to see God in it. Grab your Bibles, a phone with camera capabilities or some of those disposable cameras or the newer “instant” cameras (similar to the old Polaroid cameras).
You can do this in your back yard, a local park or in a more dramatic National Park. Gather your family and review the story of creation in Genesis 1 and 2. Share with them Psalm 19:1. Explain that although we can’t see God himself until we get to Heaven, God has created things to remind us of Him when we see them. Tell your children each of them may notice God in His creation in slightly different ways.
Give each child a camera. (If you want to do this in a low tech way, you can give them drawing paper and coloring pencils, crayons or markers.) Tell them you want them to capture the best images they can of things they see that make them think of God. Give them the time and encouragement to be truly creative and capture multiple images.
How you share the results of their efforts will depend upon the type of camera you chose. When you can see the photos, have your kids share why they chose those particular things as something that reminded them of God. Ask them to think of other things that remind them of God, but may not have been in the place you explored. You may want to also encourage them to say a quick prayer of thanksgiving and praise every time something reminds them of God. It’s a great way to teach your kids to see God for the rest of their lives.
Yes, it’s October and 95* in Atlanta, but colder weather will eventually come – even to the Southern U.S. You can do a fun Fall family service project, while also teaching your kids things God wants them to know.
Grab your kids and a Bible. Share with them the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors found in Genesis 37. Explain to your children that Israel can get cold in the winter months. Some places even get a few days of light snow. Joseph’s coat may have been to keep him warm as well as a way for Jacob to show him love.
Explain that many children in your area don’t have enough warm clothes like, sweaters, coats, hats, gloves and thick socks. Some families can’t afford to keep their homes warm during the winter and their kids may need to wear heavy clothing indoors.
If your children are older, get them to help research places in your area that will help you get warm clothing to children who need it. You may want to try churches, shelters, foster care agencies and orphanages. Some public schools may also be interested in receiving donations.
Once you have determined who will receive the warm clothing, it’s time to plan how much you will try to gather and how you will do that. Many families with young children often realize their kids have outgrown the previous year’s winter clothing when it begins getting chilly. It’s a great time to offer to collect any outgrown clothing in good condition.
There are other ways to gather donations. Your family may have things in good condition you no longer wear. Or perhaps your kids want to earn extra money and use it to buy socks or gloves. It could also grow to become a project for your church. This project can be as big or as little as you wish.
As you work on the project, have conversations with your kids about topics like empathy, serving others, faith sharing and more. Make sure your kids go with you to deliver the donations. The experience can give them a better appreciation for the need to serve others. You may even want to make it an annual family tradition.
Remember the story of the Good Samaritan? A man was robbed, beaten and left to die on the side of the road. The religious people who should have helped him, walked on by, too busy to help. The Samaritan, who culturally would have hated the victim, stopped and took the time to serve him.
That story should open our eyes to how important it is to God that we stop and help those He places in our path who have needs. Unfortunately, some of us are so obsessed with our own lives that we don’t even notice the people around us who need our help.
There’s a great way to teach your kids how to be more observant of those around them who need to be served. If you have the time, it’s also a great way to teach them how to use their gifts to serve others and to share their faith while serving.
Grab a Bible and read the story of the Good Samaritan to your kids. (Luke 10:25-37) Explain to your children that as sad as it was that those first people refused to help the victim, it’s even sadder when we are so self-absorbed we don’t even notice someone needs to be served.
Tell your kids you are going on a family service walk. It can be in your neighborhood or in a public place like a mall. As you walk, tell your kids you want them to be really observant and notice people that might need someone to help them in some way. With younger children you may have to give them clues like, “Look for people who look sad” or “Look for people who look like they could use an extra pair of hands to help them.”
Your kids can write down what they notice or just try and remember the things. (With young children, if they share in the moment, you may run the risk of hurting someone’s feelings.) After your walk, talk about what they noticed. Are there things they or your family can do to help those people or people like them? With older children, you can begin having discussions about discernment and how God wants us to use our resources to know the best ways to help people.
Doing this activity regularly can train your kids to be more observant of the needs of others. If your family follows up by actually serving some of the people you see, you will make an even deeper impression on your children. You may even want to encourage other families to do the same thing and then share with each other the needs you see in your community. It’s a great way to strengthen the faith foundation of your children and help them grow to their godly potential.
You know you should be spending more time together as a family, but when you are together…Well, things seem to not go so smoothly. Everyone is in different rooms. Or maybe in the same room, but engrossed in their personal devices. Or everyone starts getting on each others’ nerves and you spend more time separating your kids than bonding with them and teaching them.
If you’ve gone to the trouble to clear your schedules a bit to create some intentional quality family time, taking a few extra minutes to plan can help things go more smoothly. Your family is used to entertaining themselves, doing whatever it is they personally want to do – it’s no longer necessary to negotiate the sharing of the one tv in the house.
Not having to compromise, means entertainment has become a bit selfish. What everyone else wants to do with their time is of little consequence. No wonder conflicts can erupt when suddenly a family who can usually do whatever they want for entertainment is now forced to agree on something and do it together for a period of time.
No worries though! A few well planned, fun, family activities will keep your children engaged and asking for more family time. Not everything has to be overtly religious. It’s amazing how many opportunities you will have for teaching your kids about what God wants them to do in the course of something simple like playing a board game together.
There are a million things you can do together as a family, that give you plenty of opportunities to bond, teach and model. Here are some of the things our family loved to do when our daughter was younger.
Family Game Night – Kids love playing board games with their parents. Library book sales and yard sales often have board games for sale for a couple of dollars. Our Five Below store even has a lot of fun games for $5 or less.
International Night. This was a huge hit for a variety of reasons in our house. I cooked several recipes from the “mystery” country. They were easy to find on the internet or you can buy many types of cuisine already prepared in many areas. The rest of the family tried to guess the country as we ate their most famous dishes. Often we would also listen to their music, try a few words of their language or participate in a few other things from the culture. It’s also a great way to introduce missions to your kids.
After dinner family walks. Recently, I was in Ukraine. It seemed like every family in my neighborhoods in two different cities went for family walks after dinner. Along the way, they were talking and playing with their children. They even continued their post dinner walks when school started.
Family projects. Whether it’s making a tarp into a car track for an orphanage or cleaning the garage, working together on a project is great. Often, these are things you normally do, but separately. So instead of everyone being assigned a different room to clean, for example, everyone works together on the same room.
Making cookies. This is a classic for a reason! What’s more fun than baking cookies together? Sugar cookies that you can also decorate are always great. They don’t have to be Christmas cookies either. After enjoying a few of your creations, take the rest to someone who could use a little cheer and company – as a family.
Exploring. Whether it’s geocaching or visiting a new area of town (or a new town), exploring can be a great bonding experience. Let your kids help plan the adventure for even more quality family time.
Picnics. Take a blanket and take-out if you don’t want to cook and hit the road. Picnics are great conversation starters. Don’t forget to take a frisbee for more family fun after you finish eating. (When the weather is bad, indoor picnics and “camping” are usually a huge hit with kids.)
So grab your kids and start spending time together. Having fun as a family is great. It strengthens family bonds and gives you chances to slip in little bits of God’s wisdom from time to time. It also gives you a chance to model godly behaviors for your kids and chances to see your kids’ hearts more clearly. Plus, you are creating wonderful memories you will all cherish for years to come.
If you read any book or article on parenting, the author usually suggests plenty of “family time”. Yet, millions of families around the world barely see each other and their kids seem to be turning out just fine. Or are they? Is family time really that important? And what exactly are you supposed to be doing during this mysterious “family time”?
Believe it or not, family time was part of God’s plan. Twice in Deuteronomy (11:9 and 6:7) God tells parents to spend lots of time every day teaching their children His Words. He doesn’t call it family time, but if you are teaching them at home, as you walk along the road, when you get up and when you lie down – that’s quite a bit of time interacting with your children in meaningful ways during the day.
And that is what family time is really about – creating stronger relationships with your children and teaching them directly or indirectly the things God wants them to know. In fact, that famous verse in Proverbs about training up your child in the way he should go (22:6) implies parents are actually the spiritual coaches for their children. If you have ever had a coach – especially a successful one – you know how much time and effort they put into coaching each player as well as the team.
Listing the benefits of quality family time would take an entire article. Almost every study that gauges children who are healthy and successful usually mentions family time as a contributing factor. Other studies examining risky behaviors almost always mention that young people who do not participate in risky behaviors usually have more quality family time than young people who take unhealthy risks.
Sometimes this is presented as having family meals, while often it is just mentioned in general. Regardless, family time makes a huge positive difference in the life of any child – perhaps especially a child who is being raised to become a productive Christian. Your kids can’t learn everything God wants them to know from attending even the best church in the world. There’s just too much teaching and coaching that needs to be done. To be done successfully, you will need to spend a lot of intentional time with your kids.
So assuming you create time in your busy schedules for family time, what exactly should you be doing during that time together? Should you be preaching sermons to your kids? Can you have fun together and count it as family time?
There are actually a lot of fun, meaningful things you can do doing your family time each day. In our next post, we will share some specific ideas of things you can do with your kids. In the meantime, pull out your family calendar and schedule some family time each day. It will provide long term benefits for your children that will last years beyond their childhood.