I believe faith is something which is more caught than taught. That’s why Jesus’ disciples followed for three years. They hung out with Jesus, watching, experiencing, absorbing who he was and how he lived.
It’s something we know instinctively when we think about the people we spend more time with. We know that if we spend many hours with grumpy people, we get grumpy. If we spend time with joyful people, our spirits are raised. Even the TV programmes we watch do this for us, so how much more the living, breathing people we live with!
It’s for this reason that parents are the best positioned people to help their children grow in faith, as they have the most time with them. And, I would argue, children are also the best people to help their parents grow in faith! Have you ever been inspired by a child’s wild-faith prayer or their infectious joy or their creative generosity? All these are Jesus-traits which we could ‘catch’ from them!
If you are a children or family worker, or a church leader or volunteer within this sphere, I think there are four things we can do to help families grow in their faith together:
1. Model it
This means we have to be what we want to see. It means that we share our faith journey with those we live with, adult or child. It means we share our lives with the families we know, letting them into our faith-world, giving them opportunities to share in things we do which nurture our faith.
Sharing ideas and solutions to problems we’ve encountered is a great way to inspire faith! I’ve found sharing about my thankfulness habit and how it’s changed my days has been an easy way to inspire others to do the same. It’s important not to come across as if our way to ‘do faith’ is ‘the way’, as I’m pretty sure that God is more than able to meet with the unique individuals he’s created in a way that works best for them, for it’s also good to hear from others the impact small changes have made in their faith journey, and to hear that it is a journey, one which we continue to walk each day no matter how long we’ve been on it.
2. Encourage it
When and how have you felt most connected with God recently? This is a great question to find out the unique-to-them ways in which families are meeting with God. I find this question often gets surprising answers from children, and many adults when they are honest, offer up significant insights into the variety of ways and places we can meet with God. It reveals the way God is already at work, which is encouraging.
3. Resource it
If I’m honest, this is my easiest place to start, which is why I’ve put it last! It’s so easy to start by giving someone a book or an idea of an activity which they could do without taking the time to get to know them, encourage them in what they are doing, and discover with them what their next steps might be.
How can I help you grow in your faith at home?
What one thing could I do to help your family’s faith journey?
Questions like these are really useful so that we can actually meet people’s felt needs and meet them in the place they are. It’s really easy to give someone the wrong things if we haven’t got an idea of the particular season they are currently in. When we’ve asked some questions, then is the time to offer ideas or resources we think might work for them.
So what activities would I recommend?
Activities which are:
- simple – like a candle lighting prayer
- seasonal – like Easter story sweet-filled eggs (loads of seasonal ideas here)
- accessible – like listening to the Bible as an alternative to reading it (click here to listen to the Easter story)
- open-ended – like this open-ended response to the Easter story (more on open-ended faith at home activities here)
- fun – like mini-eggs prayer, always a favourite! (read more about faith at home through play)
- food – like pancake prayers
- replicable – like telling the story with toys like this story about Jesus and Peppa Pig!
- repeated – like telling the story with toys like this story about Jesus and Peppa Pig! Don’t be afraid of using things more than once!
- exploring together – an easy way to do this is to use open-ended questions about Bible passages (here’s a fab way to do this using a dice)
- variety and choice – offer a choice of a variety of styles to let people opt in in a way which works for them. Here’s a massive list of loads of different ways to do faith at home during Lent and Easter, along with questions to help families choose something which works for them.