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Family Ties to Faith

Danielle Bell and Jennifer Hooks

familybiblestudy3

Connect busy families to a faith-filled outlook with these 10 time-savvy ideas!

Families are swamped. Schedules overflow with commitments. You hear or read about overextended families every day in the news. Yet there you sit, the children's minister at your church, politely -- albeit guiltily -- piping up with, "Excuse me, how can we get more faith development happening at home during the week?"

Though most families cringe at the thought of adding more activities or responsibilities to their calendars, many admit that they too would like to make time for faith growth -- if they had the right tools. Time, of course, is one of those tools.

So how can you help families and children focus on faith during the week? We've compiled 10 simple, quick ways you can help families weave faith into their everyday lives and build God-honoring habits -- without putting a dent in their schedules.

  1. Cross Challenge

    Challenge families to play a seek-and-find game during the week. The objective is to find as many crosses hidden in everyday life as possible. Think telephone poles, signposts, seams on a basketball, and tons more. The goal is to make the game a habit, so families are continuously looking for crosses-and constantly reminded of Jesus. Remind families to share their findings at dinner each evening.

    Scripture: "We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won't become weary and give up" (Hebrews 12:2-3).


  2. In With the Good

    Give family members each a card with Philippians 4:8 printed on it. Ask them to think about the activity they do most-listen to music, watch TV, play video games, cook. Ask each person to place the card on the object or in the area where he or she does the activity. During the week, challenge family members to think about the positive side of their favorite activity and try to find one thing related to that activity that fits the verse and honors God, such as cooking food for family members, keeping in touch with friends, or choosing TV shows that have a positive message. Have them write what honors God on the card and keep it visible as a reminder to choose things in our lives that honor God.

    Scripture: "And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise" (Philippians 4:8).


  3. Water: The Purifier

    Give each family member a bottle of water with the Scripture and questions attached. Tell families to refrigerate their water and drink a little each day, making it last a week. Ask them to read the verse each time they take a drink. Then during a meal, ask families to discuss these questions:
    • What do you think the "living water" is?
    • How is Jesus like or unlike the pure water in these bottles?
    • Why is water so important to us?
    • Why is Jesus so important to us?
    • How can we use water to remind us of God?

    Scripture: "Jesus replied, 'Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life' " (John 4:13-14).

  4. Start With Jesus

    Challenge families to choose one weekday to begin their morning with Jesus-before they do anything else. Encourage families to pray together or do one thing that honors Jesus. Encourage them to talk about the difference between the days they begin with Jesus and the days they don't.

    Scripture: "I am 'the way, the truth, and the life' " (John 14:6).

  5. Everlasting Light

    Give families a decorative note to post in a room they all frequent or a place where every family member turns on and off the light.

    Each time people flip the light switch, ask them to look at the note and remember that God offers a glorious light that'll never burn out.

    Scripture: "No longer will you need the sun to shine by day, nor the moon to give its light by night, for the Lord your God will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun will never set; your moon will not go down. For the Lord will be your everlasting light. Your days of mourning will come to an end" (Isaiah 60:19-20).

  6. Self-Sacrifice

    Challenge family members to each sacrifice something they enjoy during the week in order to help someone else; for example, giving up a TV program to help a sibling with homework or sacrificing Xbox time to set the table without being asked. 

    Scripture: "Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3).

  7. Great Provider

    Give family members each 10 pieces of yarn, 4 inches in length. Ask them to spend the next week thinking of the many ways God has provided for them. Challenge them to find 10 things they can tie a piece of yarn to (zipper pulls, rearview mirrors...) as a reminder of how God has provided. Encourage them to say a brief prayer of thanks whenever they see the yarn tied to something-whether it's theirs or another family member's.

    Scripture: "And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

    "So don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?' These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need" (Matthew 6:30-33).

  8. Mending Relationships

    Ask family members to each find something at home that needs to be mended. Encourage them to talk about why the items need repair. Then challenge each person to think about a relationship they need to mend and why they need to mend it. Challenge them to go to that person during the week and offer forgiveness, an apology, or whatever's needed to bring peace to that relationship.

    Scripture: "So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God" (Matthew 5:23-24).

  9. Sour Words

    Give each family member a super-sour gum ball to take home. At home, ask them to think about something they said recently that they wish they could take back. As they remember those words, have them chew the puckery gum and think about the sour effect of harsh words. Challenge family members to see how many days they can each guard their mouths and ensure that everything they say is true, kind, and necessary.  

    Scripture: "Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them" (Ephesians 4:29).

  10. Prayer Walk

    Ask families to discuss the areas in their lives where they're most struggling-perhaps school, a friendship, or doing chores. During the week, families can symbolically or physically visit the location where each person is struggling and pray for the person and situation. If it's possible, make a prayer walk or visit to the location. If not, use an item in the home, such as a friend's photograph or a textbook, as a prayer prompt.

    Scripture: "Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere" (Ephesians 6:18).

    Danielle Bell has been a children's minister in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for 10 years. Jennifer Hooks is managing editor for Children's Ministry Magazine.           Subscribetoday

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