Since it’s now Summer, the bees are busy and we have fewer and fewer excuses not to spend time outside. So I thought I’d share some ideas for focused faith activities which work really well outside. Most need little preparation, and all are fun, hand-on ways to do Bible and prayer activities with people of any age.
If you’re planning any groups or services over the coming months, could you get part of the meeting outside and try some of these out?
- Bubbles Blessings
I find everyone likes playing with bubbles – I often have a party bottle in my bag to use when we’re out – and it’s an easy way to pray blessings on each other. Simply blow the bubbles towards someone calling out things you’d like God to bless them with, such as good health, happy friendships, great learning opportunities, peace, joy, love. Then swap who holds the wand, and bless someone else!
This works best outside as you don’t have any issues with slippy floors, so summer is a good time to do it!
- Bible story Treasure Hunt
This one needs a little bit of prep but is totally worth it! Simply copy pictures from a Bible story book you own or download some from www.freebibleimages.org. Write a line of the story relating to the picture on the back (freebibleimages also provide a story guide!) then hide them outside. You could roll them and tie with string or pop them in envelopes, or simply hide them as they are. Invite everyone to see if they can find a picture, then gather together and see if you can put them in order then read the story together. To make the most of this, help everyone to respond to the story by asking open-ended questions such as: I wonder what part of the story you liked most. I wonder if there’s any part of the story we could leave out and still have all the story we need. I wonder what part of this story is for you.
Being outside makes it easier for everyone to opt in to the level they’re comfortable with, as well as giving more space to run and sit and chat.
- Sandy stories
If you do a trip to the beach or a sandpit (a tough spot full of sand will work!), have a go at drawing simple pictures in the sand to tell a Bible story, then inviting everyone to respond to the story using the sand Sand Art Response.
- Sand sorry prayers
Another one for the beach or a sandpit: Simply draw or write things you’re sorry for in the sand then swoosh them completely away as a symbol of how completely God forgives us.
Remember: you don’t need to tell everyone what your pictures of words mean – that’s between you and God!
- Fruity prayers
Cut up a bowl of four different types fruit. Allocate each type of fruit to one type of thing to give thanks for. For example,
strawberries = friends
apple = places
grapes = food
melon = activities
Take it in turns to take a piece of fruit with a fork (it’s fun to do this with skewers or fondu forks!) and say a one line prayer of thanks for something in that category, eg pick a strawberry and say: “Thank you, God, for my friend Alisha.”
Doing this outside makes it easy to clean up and more fun!
You can adapt this to do categories of things to pray for.
- Story stones
Collect around 20 flat-ish stones and draw simple pictures on them, then use them to tell a series of stories. For example: a man, a woman, a child, a group of children, a group of people, the sun, the moon, water, a boat, a house, a hand, an eye, a speech bubble, feet.
Painting on stones can be a messy business, so simply spread an old sheet or tarp on the ground or over a table so everyone can get stuck in. With caution regarding clothes and young children, ideally use Sharpies or Posca Pens, Tippex or other markers then cover with a layer of Modge Podge or PVA glue. If you want to use them straight away, add the PVA/varnish at the end of the session.
- Stone blessings
When on the beach, collect some large stones and add a picture and a message of blessing then put them back. Here are some ideas of things you could write:
May you find joy today
Peace be with you
Perfect love drives out all fear
You are not alone
- Tent Bible story
There are loads of stories in the Bible which feature a tent, so why not put up a tent (or a gazebo or dinner shelter), gather everyone inside it (perhaps with a drink and a snack) and read one of these stories:
Abraham and Sarah are visited by three angels Genesis 18:1-15
Moses and the the tent of Meeting Exodus 33:7-11
The siege of Samaria 2 Kings 6:24- 7:20 (ends with a gruesome bit!)
- Say it, Smash it
Learn a Bible verse by writing each word in Sharpie pen on an half a washed, empty egg shell. Put them in order (this could be a challenge if they already half-know the verse) then say the verse aloud together. Nominate one person to use a mallet/hammer to smash one of the eggs, then say the verse again together. Repeat until it’s all smashed and you know the verse!
Although we’ve done this indoors, clear up would be lots easier outside!
Some of the best faith at home moments are simply conversations, and these are often easier had outside, perhaps on a walk. If you want to chat about a specific Bible passage or story, you could use the questions on these dice . Alternatively, you could download this FREE list of 101 open-ended questions to start a faith conversation from Parenting for Faith who also have a fab podcast episode about this. Parenting for Faith | 101 questions to ask your kid to spark an interesting conversation (brf.org.uk)