Monday, October 16, 2017

Faithful Families Resources for 22 October 2017

The family should be a closely knit group. The home should be a self-contained shelter of security; a kind of school where life’s basic lessons are taught; and a kind of church where God is honoured; a place where wholesome recreation and simple pleasures are enjoyed.

~ Billy Graham, “My Answer.”

Family Closeness
Feely Bag
Get two bags or two old socks. Place identical items in each of the two bags or socks. Some suggested items to use are: bottle caps, cotton balls, small sponge pieces, keys, large buttons, etc. Show your children the two bags and match each set of two items one to one. In this way, the child will see and understand that there are two identical items of each kind. Refill the two bags or socks and give one of the bags containing identical objects to the child. Take one of the objects out of the bag and show it to the child. Tell the child to feel in his bag for an object that is just like the one that you took out of your bag. Remind the child to "feel" not look. 
  • When do you feel closest to your family?
  • When do you feel God’s presence with you the most?
  • What is your favourite place to be by yourself?

With your family read: Matthew 22.15-22
(for a way of explaining/talking about this reading with children look at

Questions for Discussion:
[The Pharisees thought they could trick Jesus with this question about taxes. If Jesus said, ‘no, don’t pay tax’, then he would be in trouble with the Romans, but if he said, ‘yes, pay tax’ then the people would think he approved of Rome. His answer here suggests we need to honour the Government and honour God.]
  • What things should we do to be a good citizen?
  • What things should we do to be faithful to God?
  • Do you think the two ever come into conflict?
  • If being a good citizen conflicted with being a faithful disciple what would you choose to do?

Prayer and Celebration
Praying ACTS
Often children get into the habit of always praying thank you prayers or always praying asking prayers. One way to help them broaden their idea of prayer is to teach them this simple way of remembering some different types of prayer.
A – adoration : Prayers telling God how wonderful He is.
C – confession : Prayers saying sorry for the wrong we have done.
T – thanksgiving : Prayers thanking God for all He has done.
S – supplication: Prayers asking God for the things we and others need.

On different days of the week, you might like to get your family to talk about and pray each of the different types of prayers. Alternatively, you could write the four letters on pieces of paper and pick them out of a hat to determine which one you will use. When it come to confession prayers, help your children think not just about their own personal sin but the things we as a people have failed to do – like care for the environment or the needy.

Bonus Family Activity
Photograph Night
Take your family out on a photographic adventure. Make a list of photos they must take at particular places and go out and get them. E.g. photo with a policeman, a funny photo, a photo with at least two animals.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Faithful Families Resources for 15 October 2017

The daily activities of family life are the canvas for experiencing and sharing their faith life with one another.
~Diana Garland

Family Closeness
Hot Potato
One family member sets a timer for a random amount of time. It could be anything from 10 seconds to 90 seconds or more. If you are using a smart phone timer make sure no one can see it, including the person who set it. An object (it doesn’t have to be a potato) is passed around from person to person until the timer goes off. The person holding the object when the timer goes off must answer a question from other family members or do something silly like sing a song or do a dance or something the family has decided. Play again as many times as you like.

  • What would you do if you were invisible for a day?
  • What kids are popular at school? What do you think makes them popular?
  • How do you think children are affected by movies?

With your family read: Matthew 22.1-10
(for a way of explaining/talking about this reading with children look at

 Questions for Discussion:
  • Why do you think people didn’t go to the wedding banquet?
  • Have you ever not gone to something you were invited to?
  • How did the king make his wedding banquet happen?
  • Who do you think the king in the story is meant to represent?
  • What do you think God might be inviting you to?

 Prayer and Celebration
A Prayer for Children
Loving God,
your Son told his disciples
to become like little children.
Lead us to work for the welfare
and protection of all young people.
May we respect their dignity
that they may flourish in life,
following the example of the same
Jesus Christ our Lord.

A Prayer for Family Life
 God of compassion,
whose Son Jesus Christ, the child of Mary,
shared the life of a home in Nazareth,
and on the cross drew the whole human family to himself:
strengthen us in our daily living
that in joy and in sorrow
we may know the power of your presence
to bind together and to heal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

From the Church of England:

Bonus Family Activity
$5 Dollar Shopping Night.

Take your family to a supermarket and give each member $5 or some other appropriate and affordable amount. Tell them that they will be buying something to contribute to dinner but they are not allowed to tell one another what they are buying. Send them off to make their decision then get back together once you have bought the items. Enjoy your interesting dinner!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Faithful Family Resources for 8 October 2017

If I had my child to raise all over again,
I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I’d finger-paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.
I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I’d do more hugging and less tugging.
~ Diane Loomans, "If I had my child to raise over again.”

Family Closeness
Paper Strips
Give everyone in your family a sheet of newspaper and tell them to  tear it into as long a strip as possible. For a greater challenge, turn off the lights.

  • Have you ever worn something in public that embarrassed your parents?
  • What was it?
  • Where was it?
  • What did your parents do or say?
  • What happened?

With your family read: Matthew 21.33-42
(for a way of explaining/talking about this reading with children look at

 Questions for Discussion:
  • Which character is like God in this parable? Which character is like Jesus? Which character is like people?
  • Did the tenants have any right to the vineyard?
  • Why did they attack the slaves and the son?
  • What is Jesus trying to teach us with this parable?

Prayer and Celebration
Passing of the Cross
Use a small wooden cross or even a metal one on a chain. In a circle, the cross is taken up. Whoever holds the cross is the person who prays. This prayer begins with one person who either says a prayer out loud or silently says or imagines a prayer. The cross is passed when the person who holds it is finished.  Each person takes their turn. Prompts may be given by someone as the cross is passed. E.g. See…a friend in need, a hurt that needs healing…etc.
Pray one sentence…prompt:  thank you God for...

Bonus Family Activity
Fast Progressive Dinner
As a fun different meal idea, take your family on a fast food progressive dinner. Start at one fast food place for entrĂ©e…maybe fries, move to another for main course and then on to another for dessert. To make it even more unusual, don't decide where you will go... put the names of all the fast food places you know into a hat and draw them out as you go along.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Faithful Families Resources for 1 October 2017

Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.
~Rabindranath Tagore

Family Closeness
The other chocolate game
You will need as many different types of chocolate bars as there are players for this game. Alternatively it could be played with other random objects. Everyone is seated around the table. At the start of the game, put the chocolate bars in the middle of the table where everyone can see them. Set a timer for ten or so minutes. Everyone takes turns rolling the die until someone rolls a 1 or 6. When a 1 or a 6 is rolled, that person can do one of two things: they can take one of the bars from the table and hide it in their lap or ask for one by name that some else has taken. For example: John rolls a six and says, “I want the Snickers that Peter has.” If Peter has the Snickers, he hands it over to John. If not, it is the next family member's turn. People roll the die and take bars from each other until time is up. At the end, the family should put the chocolate bars back in the middle and share them out.

  • Who put your parents in charge of you?
  • Why is it important for children to listen to their parents?
  • When do you think your parents stop having responsibility for you?
  • What do you think it is like being a parent?

With your family read: Matthew 21.23-32
 Questions for Discussion:
  • Who gave Jesus permission to do all the things he did?
  • Is it better to say no to your parents but then do what they ask or say yes and then not do what they asked?
  • Why did the Pharisees and other people find it hard to believe in Jesus?
  • Why do people find it hard to follow Jesus today?

 Prayer and Celebration
Teaspoon Prayers
One simple pattern for shaping prayer is to remember the three words – thank you, sorry and please. The first three letters of these are TSP which reminds us of a teaspoon. Teach this to your children so that they can remember a way of praying that includes these three things. Have a teaspoon on your dinner table to remind the family to pray for these three things before eating each night. You could even decorate the teaspoon in some special way so that it stands out and you don’t forget.

Bonus Family Activity
15 Minute Activity Pick
Make a commitment to spend at least 15 minutes a day doing an activity of your children’s choice.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Faithful Families Resources for 24 September 2017

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. Mark 10:13-16 ESV

Family Closeness
Gather about twenty objects and put them on a tray.  When you are ready to play uncover the tray and give everyone about two minutes to memorise what is on it. Then take it away. Give everyone a pen and pencil and give them a few minutes to write down what they remember on the tray. Children might need helping in writing the names of object. (Youth Ministry Encyclopedia, Lyman Coleman)

What character from a book or television are you most like? How are you like them?
If you had to change your name, what would you change it to?
Who is someone who has made a difference in your life?

With your family read: Matthew 20.1-16
 Questions for Discussion:
  • Why were the people who worked all day upset?
  • Do you think what the landowner did was fair? Why or why not?
  • If in this parable the landowner represents God, what do we learn about God?
  • God’s grace means everyone is loved, forgiven and accepted no matter what they have done. What do you think about this?
  • What do you think about the statement: God gives us what we need, not what we deserve?

Prayer and Celebration
Prayer Placemats
Use your computer to create some prayer placemats for your dinner table. These could simply have three or four different prayers printed on them for your family to pray together at the dinner table. Your children could then colour them in or decorate them. To finish them off, laminate them so they will last longer. If your children are as handy at desktop publishing as many are, get them to design the placemats.

Bonus Family Activity
Crowd Squeezer
Step 1: Spread a sheet or blanket on the grass and challenge everyone to pile on top so that no part of any person's body touches the ground beyond the blanket.
Step 2: If the group succeeds, fold the blanket in half and try again.
Step 3: Continue in this way to see how small an area you can all squeeze.    

Monday, September 11, 2017

Faithful Families Resources for 17 September 2017

Parents shouldn't give up doing what is best for their children even when their children are ungrateful. ~Martin Luther
Family Closeness
Stopwatch Games
With a stopwatch and a bit of imagination, your family can clock hours of crazy contests.
  • How long does it take to blow a perfect bubble after you put a new piece of gum in your mouth?
  • How long can you chew your food for before it disappears?
  • How many times can you click in a minute?
  • How long does it take to run around the house?
  •  How many baskets can you shoot in 2 minutes?

  • If you were told tomorrow that you were going to jail forever how would it change the way you act or live?
  • If you were told tomorrow that you were adopted how would it change the way you act or the way you live?
  • If you were told today that you are a special child of God how would it change the way you act or live?

With your family read: Matthew 18.21-35
 Questions for Discussion:
  • Is forgiving someone seventy times a lot?
  • Do you think Jesus really meant we should keep count?
  • Who do you think the king might be in this story?
  • Who do you think the first slave might be?
  • Knowing God forgives us, why do we often find it hard to forgive?

Prayer and Celebration
Gratitude Board
On the fridge or at your table, keep a small whiteboard called a gratitude board, and on it things are recorded and dated (whenever someone is passing by) that they want to say thank you for or that they are glad about. These can be used once a week or on a more regular basis as the focus for family prayers.

Bonus Family Activity
Follow the Leader
Depending on the age of your children play a game of follow the leader. The leader goes around the house doing a variety of things e.g. crawl across the carpet, jump through the dining room, climb over a bed, clap hands in the bathroom etc. Everybody has to do what the leader does.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Faithful Families Resources for 10 Sept 2017 (14th after Pentecost, Year A)

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. ~Deuteronomy 6.4-7

Family Closeness
Blind Draw
Everyone is given a sheet of paper and a pen. You have three minutes to draw a picture of something that everyone agrees to...but you must either close your eyes or be blindfolded or have the light turned out.

  • What is the hardest thing about being (your age) years old?
  • What is the best thing about being (your age) years old?
  • What things don’t boys understand about girls?
  • What things don’t girls understand about boys?

With your family read: Matthew 18.15-20
(for a way of explaining/talking about this reading with children look at

 Questions for Discussion:
  • Why do you think it might be wise to point out someone’s sin against you in private first?
  • What kinds of sins do you think this instruction might cover?
  • Are there things people might do which should immediately be taken to someone in power like a parent or teacher or police officer?
  • Why might it be necessary to take someone with you if someone won’t listen to you when you point out their sin?
  • How did Jesus treat tax collectors and sinners?

Prayer and Celebration
Prayers of Confession
Prayers of confession are a normal part of a Christian’s prayer life. All of us, including children, do things we wish we hadn’t, or don’t do the things we should. Confession (saying sorry and asking God for forgiveness) is something that parents should model to children. There are various ways we might engage our children in prayers of confession.

Burning Prayers
Your family might like to individually write down things they would like to say sorry for. These prayers might then be placed in a bowl and burnt as a symbol of God’s forgiveness.
The following words might be used to help children have a language for this type of prayer:
 I got really angry today.  I think I know why, and I wish I wouldn’t.  I feel so out of control.  I feel disappointed.  Jesus, I am sorry for any hurt I have caused today.  Help me to be gentle.  Help me to love more and more.  Help me to love.  Help me to put aside the things that hurt others, you, and me.  I am sorry for . . . .  Grant your grace to me, that I might grow more into who I am, and who you call me to be.

Words from Scripture might be used to help children see that God takes away our sins from us and forgives us.
These could include:
If you sin, Jesus Christ always does the right thing, and he will speak to the Father for us. Christ is the sacrifice that takes away our sins and the sins of all the world’s people.” (1 John 2:1–2, CEV)

How far has the Lord taken our sins from us? Farther than the distance from east to west!” (Psalm 103:12, CEV)

  • Explore creative ways you could raise the profile of a particular charity that you would like to support.
  • Talk about why it is good to give to charity in secret. Read Matthew 6.2 - 4
  • Discuss how you might get the balance between these two right and why they are both important.

Bonus Family Activity
Collage of Dreams
Use photos, words and pictures from old magazines, glue, sparkles etc to make a collage of the things your family would like to do with their life. This might begin by each member making a list of 10 or 100 things that they would like to do in their life…like skydive or write a book or learn to ride a bike. Alternatively the collage might be about things your family might like to do this year together. Put the collage up somewhere visible to remind you of your dreams and plans.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Faithful Families Resources for 3 September 2017 (13th after Pentecost, Year A)

My father didn’t tell me how to live, he lived, and let me watch him do it.
~ Clarence Budinton Kelland

Family Closeness
Letter On
Choose a category of things; it could be food, movies, places. The first person says the name of something in that category. The next person must say another thing in that category that starts with the last letter of the thing you previously said. There is a 10 second limit and nothing can be repeated. 
(from The Source for Youth Ministry)

1. Your best friend doesn’t invite you to her birthday party. How do you feel? What do you say to your friend?
2. You are on a school field trip and you just found out that a few of the kids have brought along their pocket knives and are planning to carve their name in a tree. Do you tell the teacher? Why/why not? What do you say to your classmates?

With your family read: Romans 12.9-21
 Questions for Discussion:
  • What do you think about these rules for Christian living?
  • Is doing these things easy or hard? What makes them so?
  • How are we to treat others?
  • How are we to treat enemies?
  • Why do you think followers of Jesus should live this way?

 Prayer and Celebration
Ways to say “I forgive”
At the top of a piece of paper, write the words: “I forgive you.” Ask “What did God do to show He forgives us?” Then encourage your family to list as many ways as they can which show forgiveness to others. The list may include words and actions. Suggestions of words might be, “That’s OK” or “It's all right.”  Suggestions of actions might be hugs, smiles, and handshakes.

Previously my family has spent a day disconnected from technology, prior to making a donation to a charity connected with the famine in East Africa. There are many charities like World Vision who have activities like the Forty Hour Famine that help young people and adults think about what it is like to go without. These are great events but they can at times be difficult for families with young children to engage with. The truth is we shouldn’t need prompting from a charity to help our children think about others.
With my family, we agreed around the dinner table that we would go without technology – TV, computers, games etc – for the day. Now this might seem trivial but the purpose of it was that every time we felt like we wanted to watch TV or go on the computer, we remembered that others in the world are going without a lot more than we are, and that we can use what we have to help. Why do this and not just give money? I am passionate about helping my children to grow as thoughtful disciples of Christ and so I want them to engage in a small action of self denial so they can reflect more deeply on what it means to give.
I wonder what creative ways you might engage your children’s hearts and mind so they may grow to love and serve others?

Bonus Family Activity
Hands and Feet
Draw around the outlines of your children's hands and feet onto cardboard. Cut them out and write words on them that might help them to remember how they help Jesus build his kingdom. They might be words like serve, share, love, grow. Alternatively draw pictures of these things or get your children to draw pictures of these things. Blutack or sticky tape them around the house so that they might be reminded throughout the week that they are workers in the kingdom of God.