Connect busy families to a
faith-filled outlook with these 10 time-savvy
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.
- 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
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).
- 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).
- 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
- How is Jesus like or unlike the
pure water in these bottles?
- Why is water so important to
- Why is Jesus so important to
- How can we use water to remind us
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).
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).
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
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
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).
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"
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
"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).
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).
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).
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.