Sunday, May 25, 2014

Faithful Families Resources May 25 2014

The soul is healed by being with children.(Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

This week, prior to Pentecost, we remember and celebrate the ascension of Jesus. This is a really great time to reflect on what it means to have Jesus authority on earth delegated to us. As disciples we are the hands and feet of Jesus in the kingdom. If we are serious about being faithful with our family, then role modelling this will be a priority. Your children will discover who they are and whose they are by looking at the everyday things you do. Christianity is a faith which is mediated through everyday things, such as bread, wine, water, light and through the everyday activities of serving, growing, sharing and celebrating.

 I wonder what your children might learn about being a disciples from watching you? How do you take seriously the call of Jesus to be a witness; to proclaim repentance and forgiveness, to go and make disciples?

Here are some resources, that you might be faithful with your family. We cannot make our children have faith, we can only be faithful with them.

Family Closeness
Using the alphabet letters, choose words that start with that letter, like the list given below, and act it out. Allow them to make up more as you go to add to the choices.

A = alligator (alligator crawl), around, airplane scale
B = bounce, bend, bear walk
C = cat arch, catch, crawl, crab walk
D = lame dog, dance, duck walk, dribble
E = elephant walk, egg roll
F = freeze, fall, frown, frog jump
G = giggle, gallop, giant steps
H = hop, hiccup, headstand
I = inchworm
J = jump, juggle
K = kick
L = log roll, leap
M = march, mop, mule kick
N = nod, neck rolls
O = Octopus (2 players stand back-to-back and walk sideways, waving their arms and legs), on, off, over
P = point, paint, pose
Q = quiver, quiet
R = run, rake, roll
S = skip, sit, sweep, smile, seal crawl, stretch
T = tiptoe, throw, tripod, tuck, type
U = upside down, under
V = vault (leap frog), vacuum
W = walk, wiggle, wink
X = flex, wax, mix
Y = yawn, yell
Z = zigzag, zip, zzzzzzzzzz

  • Have you ever been asked to do something and then had the person who asked you to do the job hang around and watch you the whole time.
  • Have you ever had someone ask you to do a job and then before you could do it they went ahead and did it anyway. How did you feel?
  • Would you rather never play or never win?
  • Would you rather be able to fly or breathe under water?
  • What things do you volunteer to do that helps others?
  • What might you volunteer to do this week to help others?


With your family read Acts 1.6-11: Jesus Ascends

Questions for Discussion:
  • What did Jesus says the disciples would receive when the Holy Spirit came?
  • What job where the disciples given by Jesus?
  • Why do you think the disciples stood looking for so long after Jesus ascended?
  • How do you think the disciples felt about Jesus leaving them? 

The King’s Banquet
There was once king who invited his subjects to a royal banquet. The king told each guest to bring a flask of wine, explaining that all the flasks would be poured into one large wine vat, from which the banquets beverages would be drawn. One of the king’s subjects thought, “What will my small flask of wine mean? Instead of bringing wine, I will bring a flask of water. When my flask of water is added to all the wine, it will blend right in, and no one will know the difference.?” On the night of the banquet, all the king’s subjects assembled around the food-laden tables. The king welcomed his guests, and then summoned his servants to serve the wine from the one large vat. The glasses were all filled – with water. For every one of the king’s subjects had brought water, not wine, reasoning that one little flask of water would blend right in with all the wine, and no one would know the difference.
At the ascension, the message Jesus gave us was: “its over to you guys now.” Jesus has placed into our hands the responsibility of working in the kingdom of God. We are now expected to be active participants in growing and building the kingdom. Of course the promised helper, the Holy Spirit is with us with gifts and power for the job. We however have been handed the authority to do the work of Jesus on earth.

Prayer and Celebration
Balloon Prayers
A really great way to pray with your family this week might be to use some balloons. Get enough balloons for a week or a couple of days. Write or draw your prayers on pieces of paper and place them in balloons, blow the balloons up and tie them somewhere in your house. Each day might have different themes: I thank God for things he has done for me. I thank God for things he has made. I ask God for help for others. I ask God for help for myself. I say sorry to God.

Here are some service ideas that are focused on older people in your community: 
  • Adopt a grandfriend and regularly visit them with your family.
  • Have your children make a penfriend in a nursing home.
  • Find activities your family might be able to do in a nursing home such as an arts project.
  • If you have a friendly pet such as a dog or cat see if you can take it to a local nursing home or home of an elderly person.

 Family Time
 Paper Doll Activities
For each family member draw an outline of a person on a separate large piece of paper. (If you have large enough paper, lie down on it and trace around your body.)Each person adds drawings, words and/or magazine pictures to tell about him or herself. As family members work, comment, "As a child of God, you are special! The drawings, words, pictures on your outline show some of the ways God has made you special."

(This material is based on and draws from earlier Faithful Families emails by Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning: An Unless Ideas Production.) Unless otherwise noted all material on this blog is copyright Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning

Monday, May 19, 2014

Faithful Families Resources May 18 2014

There's nothing that can help you understand your beliefs more than trying to explain them to an inquisitive child. 

Frank A. Clark

Family Closeness
I’m thinking of an animal
I'm Thinking of an Animal is similar to the game Twenty Questions, except all the questions and clues pertain to a living creature. One-player thinks of an animal, and the other tries to guess which animal it is by asking no more than ten "yes" or "no" questions. If you guess correctly in ten questions or fewer, you get to think of the next animal. If not, the first player divulges the answer and then thinks of another animal. No one really wins, and the game is over when you don't want to play anymore. If you're playing with your child, you may not want to put a limit on the number of questions he can ask. Instead, think of it as a way to teach her about an interesting subject. Also, when choosing an animal, consider the age of the child. An older player may know all there is to know about easy-to-guess animals, such as cats and dogs, and may need the challenge of harder choices, for instance egrets and yaks. But most 3- and 4-year-olds will recognize only the most basic creatures, such as lions, tigers, and bears.

  • Has telling the truth ever got you in big trouble? What happened? Would you do the same again?
  • Have you ever told the truth and had no one believe you?
  • Have you ever told a lie and been found out? What happened?
  • Have you ever felt that telling the truth was the wrong thing to do?


With your family read John 14.15-21: Loving Jesus

(for a way of explaining/talking about this reading with children look at

Questions for Discussion:
  • What do you think are the commandments of Jesus?
  • How does loving Jesus make following His commandments easier?
  • What rules do you find difficult to keep?
  • These words of Jesus were meant to comfort his disciples by letting them know that the Holy Spirit would be with them. How do you feel knowing Jesus is still here for us. 

One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small boy into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, "Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?" The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. "I can't, dear," she said. "I have to sleep in Daddy's room." A long silence was broken at last by his shaky little voice: "The big sissy."

Prayer and Celebration
There are many ways and patterns of prayer.  Praying with Pat-C-ana is just one [pronounced Patsyanna].  It was originally written by Rev Richard Browning for use by children at church and school. The prayer below can be used as a way of remembering and teaching which finger represents which type of prayers.

From the thumb to little finger
we pray with PAT-C-ANA:
Praise and adoration -
Thank you, thank you.
Confession saying sorry:
    its forgiveness that we need.
Asking 'n asking: for others then for me.
From the thumb to little finger
we pray to God the Father.
 The prayers below help to unpack the type of prayer to use with each finger or can be used
Praying with PAT-C-ANA

Thumb: Praise and adoration
Awesome Lord and Father, the earth is yours and all that is in it. You are our God and we are your people;

Index finger: Thanksgiving
Thank you for life and love, for a home to live and a family to love.

Middle finger:  Confession
Forgive us when we hurt others, and when we offend you.
Help us to love like you love us.

ring finger:  Asking for others
We pray for…
my family and friends and those that I love.

little finger: Asking for me
 And lastly for me, I place myself into your loving care.

This week encourage your family members to serve each other. Get them to think of one nice and helpful thing they could do for the parents or siblings. Here are some ideas:

Make someone’s bed for them
Do someone else’s chore
Pick up someone else’s mess
Clean up the dog or cat waste.

Family Time
Bible Story Theme Night

Think of a bible story - like Noah’s Ark or the Feeding of the Five Thousand. Think of how you might have a family fun night focused on the theme of the story. This might include: Themed food, games, music, decorations, the telling of the story with costumes. Let your imagination run wild.

(This material is based on and draws from earlier Faithful Families emails by Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning: An Unless Ideas Production.) Unless otherwise noted all material on this blog is copyright Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Faithful Families Resources May 11 2014

While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.
~Angela Schwindt

Family Closeness
Paper tear outs
Write down a whole list of shapes on bits of paper and put them in a jar, eg. house, tree, boat, car etc. Someone picks a shape from the hat and calls it out, each player has a sheet of paper and tries to tear out that shape.(New Games for Community. Christine Gapes)

Simple patterns for table talk are often the best. It is good to have some questions that you might ask every week or night. However it is important that everyone really listens. Parents need to be careful they don’t fall into the habits or asking the question without really listening.

What is the best thing and the worst thing that happened to you today or this week?
What is something that you might say thank you to God for this week? (One for the adults particularly to share: Where have you been aware of God’s presence in your life this week? What “God moments” happened to you this week?)

With your family read John 14.1-11: Jesus is the gate
Questions for Discussion:

(for a way of explaining/talking about this reading with children look at

(The reading this week might be a tricky one for younger listeners to get a grasp on. Read it slowly and if necessary talk about each sentence. It is helpful to know that this reading takes place during the last supper and Jesus is preparing his disciples for what is ahead.)

What are the three things Jesus said he is? “I am the…”

How does Jesus say we can know God the Father?

What does it mean for Jesus to be:
 The way? 
The truth?
The life?

How does it make you feel to realize that Jesus has a place for you in His kingdom?

A hunter who was out on expedition got lost in the jungle with nothing but bush and a few cleared spaces. He found a local’s hut and asked him if he could lead him out. The local said he could. "All right," said the hunter, "show me the way." So they walked and hacked their way through unmarked jungle for more than an hour. The hunter got worried. "Are you quite sure this is the way? Where is the path?" The local turned around and knowingly smiled, "In this place there is no path. I am the path."

Prayer and Celebration
Touch Prayer
This week we invite you to use a prayer without words consisting only of touch. It is very simple. Using your finger write or draw your prayers on the palm of each others hands or backs. If you want you might speak these prayer out aloud once they are done. Make these prayers especially for the person whom you are drawing on.
Draw or write one good thing you want for this person?

All service in the community should start with prayer. In fact this is a great way for your family to begin serving the world. If you really want to begin doing something in your community ask God, as a family, to begin showing you the needs in your neighbourhood or community. Take your time in doing this. Discuss with your family what you have seen and pray about it asking God to guide you. If you identify an area you think God is prompting you to get involved in take the time to explore what it happening already in that area and what things you might get involved in. It is possible that there is nothing happening and this might require your family to take the time to listen to what God might want you to do. Through the whole process pray. This not only teaches children about pray but reminds us that as Christian our service is about participating in the kingdom of God and not building our own kingdom. 

Family Time
 Here are some more ideas for Family Fun Nights (see last weeks post)
Drama Night
Put on a drama together. Using stories from the bible is a great way to help children remember them and have fun doing so. Gather together dress up resources that could be used as costumes for each character.

Show and Tell Night
Get each of your family members to share something. It could be a picture they like, a hobby or interest, something they have learned, a joke or story, something they have made or made up, a game, something they found in the back yard.

Surprise Night
Plan something that will be a complete surprise to your family. Invite a guest or do something special or unusual.

(This material is based on and draws from earlier Faithful Families emails by Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning: An Unless Ideas Production.) Unless otherwise noted all material on this blog is copyright Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Faithful Families Resources May 4 2014

Children seldom misquote.  In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn't have said. 
~Author Unknown

Family Closeness
Long Word Search
Find a long word (eg. Hippopotamus,catastrophe) and give everyone a pencil and paper. Try to make as many words as possible from the letters of the long word. Rules: All words must be at least three letters long. A letter may only be used more than once in a word if it is contained in the main word more than once. Set a time limit.(TV Free Activities for Kids. Di Hodges)

These questions are to stimulate a sense of openness, sharing and discovery about your family.

  • What is one thing you don’t think you could live without? Why?
  • If you could only take three things to a desert island what would they be?
  • If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
  • What does it mean to adore something?
  • Do you remember a time when someone praised you for something you did? what did it feel like? did you like it? What are some of the words that might express praise? 

With your family read John 10.1-10 Jesus the Gate

(for a way of explaining/talking about this reading with children look at

Questions for Discussion: 
  • How does the shepherd look after the sheep?
  • How do the sheep respond to the shepherd?
  • Who do you think are Jesus sheep?
  • What do you think it means for Jesus to be a gate for his sheep?
  • What does this reading say Jesus came for?

 In 1st century Palestine, shepherds would often stay out in the field with their flock of sheep for a long time. In order to look after his sheep at night, the shepherd would make a low enclosure out of stones with a small opening. At night, the shepherd would lie down in front of the opening to keep the sheep in and the wild animals or thieves out. The shepherd became the gate to the pen, protecting the sheep with his own body.

If the shepherd was near a city or village he might take his sheep to a large holding area where many flocks would stay for the night. The watchman had a duty to guard the flocks and not let anyone in, except the shepherds in the morning. When the shepherds came they would call their sheep and knowing their masters voice would follow him out of the pen into the pasture.

Prayer and Celebration
Praying Psalm 23
Pray the 23rd Psalm with your children and the members of your family. Instead of using my or me use your child’s name.
For example: The Lord is John’s shepherd, John shall not want etc.
You, Lord, are ______ shepherd.
_________ will never be in need.
You let __________ rest in fields
of green grass.
You lead _________ to streams
of peaceful water,
and you refresh ________ life.
You are true to your name,
and you lead _______
along the right paths.
___________ may walk through valleys
as dark as death,
but ______________ won’t be afraid.
You are with _________,
and your shepherd’s rod
makes ____________ feel safe.
You treat _________ to a feast,
while ________ enemies watch.
You honor _________ as your guest,
and you fill __________ cup
until it overflows.
Your kindness and love
will always be with __________
each day of _________ life,
and __________ will live forever
in your house, Lord. 

“Get a drive going”
Recently I visited a church run organisation in the city I work in called The Mission to Seafarers. They have an amazing ministry of hospitality and care for those who work on cargo ships. When the ships are in port the seafarers come to the centre for some recreation, hospitality and friendship. In an island country like Australia where the vast majority of imported goods come by sea, these people who work on the ships have an important but often tough and lonely role. While I was there I became aware of the different items that The Mission uses or provides for the seafarers. It included books, dvd’s, magazines, clothes, all kinds of things really. Often we have an abundance of these goods sitting around the house that we are unlikely to use again. With your family why not start a drive amongst your family and friends for these kinds of good in your community? Find out what charities or services are in your area, find out what they need and if they are happy to receive goods from you, then GO FOR IT. Not only will you be providing necessary items for a good cause but you will be raising the profile of it in the community. 

Family Time
Having a family night is a fantastic and fun way to focus on your family growing together. What is a family night? It is simply putting aside one evening a week or a month or whatever regular interval suits you to do something together that everyone will enjoy. Make sure the dates you pick are in your diaries and give them the first priority – try to plan well ahead. Give each member a turn to plan the program for the evening. Make it a rule that there is to be no complaining or fidgeting and that everyone is to cooperate and participate. This is especially important for the younger children whose self esteem may be damaged by older children's comments.Don't forget to talk about the purpose of the family night. Two key purposes could be 1. To have fun together. (Family night should be the most anticipated night of the week) 2. To worship the Lord together. This is an opportunity for parents to model Christian devotion to their children. (The Big Book of Family Fun. Gwen Ellis.)

Here are some ideas for fun family nights. All of these take a little planning and resource gathering…but if your family has fun and grows together it will be well worth it.

Celebration Night
Throw a party for your family or for a particular special day. Decorate the room, eat special food, play some games and generally do what you do when you have a party.

Outing Night
Go on a special adventure with your family to somewhere different than the local shopping centre.
Project Night
Provide materials for the family to make a project – art, drama or anything that comes to mind. Making puppets is one idea.

(This material is based on and draws from earlier Faithful Families emails by Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning: An Unless Ideas Production.) Unless otherwise noted all material on this blog is copyright Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning