For me, for faith at home to work, it has to be part of my every day life. We have special things we do at certain points in each week and each year, but the reality of our faith really starts to change our lives when it’s part of what we do each day.
I’m sure this is what Moses meant when he said:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:5-9
As I share how faith works out in our family in the every day, please don’t imagine for one moment that I mean we do these things every day. No, these are just some ways faith is expressed in our home life together. Also, please don’t assume that we don’t have all the normal family moments too, the shouting about socks and not wanting to go to bed. Of course, we do, but I think it’s worth sharing some of the moments we see God building our faith together to inspire you that this can work in your home, in your family, in the middle of noisy crazy normal family life.
Chat about their questions
One of the things I try and do is to engage with questions about faith whenever they arise. This is rarely at a convenient moment, but more often just before bed, in the supermarket or in front of people whom I doubt will understand our conversation. However, I know that whenever questions arise about faith, it’s best to discuss them then and there, even if it’s short and ends with, “That’s a great question; let’s come back to that later.”
Have a (child-friendly) Bible handy
I try to have a Bible near enough that we can look things up if we want to. For example, over Christmas one of my daughters got cross because a song said that Jesus was ‘born at the back of an inn’, and she was convinced he was born in a stable. I said, Really? And we looked up Luke 2 in her large print Contemporary English Version which I got her this year, and when we got to ‘and she wrapped him in baby clothes…” she interrupted me with, “But it doesn’t say where he was born!” Yep. Got it. Of course, if we’re out I use a Bible app on my phone.
Have faith resources available
As well as Bibles, we also have lots of Christian childrens books, all mixed in with our other books. We have various resources such as felt shapes and play mobil which we often use to tell stories or respond to them. And we have a little collection of Godly Play resources we use to share Godly Play stories together. Having these tucked away in the back of a cupboard is like keeping a guitar in the loft. The best place for a guitar if you want to play it, musicians always say, is out. While you don’t need to keep all your resources all over the play room floor, keeping them easily accessible for anyone to use is really helpful.
Pray out loud
Whenever I’m chatting with God as part of our day together, I tend to pray out loud. This gives an example to copy, while also alerting my daughters to God’s presence with us. For example, as we leave the house in the car, I often pray, asking God to give us a safe and easy journey, and to bless us and the people we’re meeting up with. Sometimes my children join in, often not. And if we hit a problem, I pray out loud about it, which they usually join in. And if we see emergency vehicles, I pray out loud for them and the people they’re helping (my brother is a paramedic so we’re more aware than other families might be about their role). I find this gentle reminder helps my children turn to God when they need help, and to acknowledge God when good things happen to us. It’s great to see at age 5 and 6 how this is becoming part of the fabric of their lives.
Share Bible stories
When my daughters were younger, it was really fun introducing them to Bible stories for the first time. This was often in a children’s Bible story book or retelling stories using toys. We still do this, but I also keep a look out for opportunities to share a story or passage they don’t know directly from the Bible. This might be a passage I’m looking at myself, or one which I think is particularly pertinent to something they’re interested in. For example, we might look at a passage about sins being ‘white as snow’ on a snowy day. Or we might look at the tabernacle when we’re camping. For me this is about me reading the Bible for myself and also listening to them and what they’re thinking about to get a good fit.
Children love stories. And they love stories about their parents when their parents were younger, ‘in the olden days’ as my daughter puts it!!! We tell them all sorts of stories about our lives before they were born, and an important part of that is them hearing what God has done in our lives, times when He’s provided for us financially in miraculous ways, times when he’s brought just the right person into our lives, times when he’s showed us the way to go. And we can add their stories onto these, weaving their faith life into the tapestry of our family faith history, so they can pass these stories on to their children. Story telling happens at impromptu moments in our home. If this is something you find difficult to do adhoc, maybe spend some time recalling and writing down some of the salient points of a story and then ask your children – Would you like to hear about something God did in my life before you were born?
I’ve shared ways this works for our family. It will look different in yours. But as we seek to live our faith together as families at home, we will begin to see faith woven into the tapestry of who we are. And that’s exciting!