Raising faith 3
Raising Faith 3 - Top tips
Hugh talked 2 weeks ago about why this is so important
Important to note that this isn’t just for people with children – everything I am talking about and the ideas I share can be used whatever your family looks like, and whether you have children at home or not. Also, we’re none of us perfect. This isn’t being spoken about to add to our list of failures as parents or to make us feel awful that we’re not good enough as Christians – NO. This is for us to encourage one another and to spur one another on in faith.
Last week Faye showed us how we, as parents can make a difference to our children in their faith formation by (4 things) creating culture (environment at home), import faith – living it out at home, giving imparting wisdom, giving our time.
This week we’re going to find some practical suggestions and ideas to try out and next week we’re going to look at how the whole church family is also responsible for faith to flourish.
It’s impossible to cover everything in a one size fits all talk so we’re suggesting you invest in a book that has more ideas and will encourage you as you equip them in their faith for life.
Making a difference doesn’t require a degree in theology, or an extra few hours every day, there are things that we can all do as part of our busy lives, and we want to offer some simple things to show you that we CAN all do it! The way you do it will be different to other people because your family and context are unique, but these principles have worked throughout history. What unifies us is that we all have the overriding hope and dream for our children, and for all children, that they grow up to have a living faith of their own.
The big question for us all is ‘HOW?’ We know we want to do it but HOW we do it can be a challenge.
Deuteronomy 6 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, 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.
Moses was preparing his people as they entered the promised land. Soon they would have a wonderful place to settle but they knew that life would be different – they would no longer be wandering. They would have their own home. Moses reminds them of the great things God had done for them, rescuing them from slavery in Egypt, parting the Red Sea so they could make their escape, and miraculously providing food and water for them in the wilderness.
But Moses was deeply concerned for the younger generation as they had not seen God’s work first hand. He knew they would face temptation, especially as they were about to enter a country whose people did not know God and were involved in evil practices. He insisted the Israelites passed on the stories of God to their children and to their grandchildren.
Faye talked about how important it is to impart wisdom from the bible to our children and we have been given a set of instructions from God to do that. As parents, grandparents or godparents, we are best placed to show our children what living in a relationship with God looks like. Making our faith visible is a God-given responsibility. This may feel overwhelming but God knows you so well – He believes in you and thinks you are up to the job. You are actually the best person to raise your children. You don’t have to be perfect but you are perfectly placed. He has chosen you to have the children He has given you. Be confident in that role and be intentional in pursuing God’s best for your family.
It can help to think about the different rhythms of life; the stuff we do every day, every week, and every year, and to think about how we can include God in each of those rhythms or patterns of life
Time is one of the most important things we can offer our children but we all know that this is one resource which is severely limited.
And perhaps the key isn’t adding lots more things into busy diaries, but finding ways to bring faith into the things we already do. The trick is to find ways to let our faith flow in to our daily rhythm of life. Each family is different but we need to include God in every part of our day. We can’t pass on what we don’t have ourselves, so make sure you are creating opportunities to deepen your own relationship with God yourself.
Look at your daily routine and work out when would be the best time to encourage your children to pray every day. Maybe there’s a time in the bathroom while they’re cleaning their teeth, maybe in the car you all talk about the day ahead and pray for each other together. Why not bless each other on your way out of the house. Or what about praying aloud while you’re doing the washing up. If they hear you praying, they’re more likely to pick up on that and pray themselves, and then they’ll develop an understanding that faith isn’t just about Sunday mornings.
When my children were little, I would sing with them. Not just any old song, it was Jumping in the House of God by the Worldwide Message Tribe – very loud, very vibey music which we would literally jump to before we left the house to go to school. Poor things! But that was our rhythm. We’ve always been a noisey, singy, talky family, so it suited us to be vocal and expressive – through our conversation, in art, in our worship, in music.
Other families will build that time into their evening rhythm. Perhaps bedtime, after reading a book, include prayer. Don’t just pray for your children, let them pray with you. Maybe bedtime doesn’t work with your particular child; try supper time instead. It’s easy to go through the day and chat to them about what’s been going on but how often do we stop to let God into our chat? While they’re telling you about what happened, you can ask – ‘where did you feel God today?’ or ‘is there anything we should tell God about from your day?’
Rather than struggle to do something that doesn’t work in your situation, find a rhythm that works for you and one that is life-giving.
Our faith needs to be lived out authentically. Life is not always happy and fun – it can be rich and rewarding but also dry and difficult. They need to see the good, the bad and the ugly and how we handle the pressure, how we deal with the day to day – they need a window into our lives as they see how we include God in what we face because God is in our whole life!
Alongside your daily rhythm, do you have a time once a week which you as a family can make ‘special’? Setting aside time to eat together will enrich your family, and including God in that time will make it even richer. I would encourage you to plan a weekly rhythm of eating a family celebration meal together and to keep it sacred. Maybe a weekly rhythm doesn’t work for you – then what would? I encourage all of you to think of celebrating your faith over food, whatever your family setting looks like.
Jewish families all over the world have celebrated the Sabbath and passed that tradition on through their families. The core parts of a Sabbath day begin with their evening meal and a prayer around the table, usually led by the mother. They light candles on the Sabbath day – a visual metaphor to welcome the light of God into their home. This meal is the start to their Sabbath day – a day of resting together. What would that look like in your family or home?
Jewish people celebrate yearly festivals. These festival days usually revolve around feasting and allowing families to have fun together but they also hold the Kingdom of God at the very centre of them.
They may attend the synagogue at Passover, but they will also share prayers and a meal at home to celebrate. It is healthy to set aside extra celebrations with God. And we understand that annual rhythm too – the pattern of Christian festivals shapes our year; Christmas, Easter, Pentecost.
Godventure.co.uk has some fab ideas for ways to make this Easter more meaningful- I’ve printed them off for you to take away – they include creating an Easter playlist of worship songs, hosting a pancake party, having a big Passover meal on Good Friday, making a Holy Week box with a short reading, a prayer and something to do that relate to each day.
And why not share these rituals with other families. We have been sharing Christmas Eve Supper with another Christian family for many years now. The Christmas just gone was the first we haven’t spent with them in 8 years and it felt strange. All the children expect this to happen and it enriches our friendships and our sense of God being in the middle of it.
One more thing I really encourage you to consider is to send your children on a Christian holiday each year. It will give them a chance to meet with other children and young people and encounter God in a safe and fun environment – it also gives the parents a lovely week to themselves, and many of us here, who have done these holidays will testify to their importance in their relationship with God.
I’ve brought with me several brochures for Scripture Union and Venture holidays – there are many options on the type of holiday from kayaking to climbing and trips for the not so sporty. Scripture Union has a local centre if you would rather they were closer to home. The great thing they offer is friendship and the chance to deepen their own personal faith.
Pray, read the bible, let you own faith be active – model the Christian faith, know where your lines are drawn and stick to them, either on your own or in partnership, Christian friends and holidays. Enable this to happen.
Why not decide to reassess your parenting every 6 months – Make a note in your diary for 6 months from now to see how you have got on and consider what else you can introduce or tighten up on.
We are all on a journey, learning more about God and each other. We are not just here to help our children; our children will help us on our journey.
Our prayer for all our children is that they grow into their full potential in God and that they live to serve Him through their lives. There is no one way of doing faith in the home. Life is messy and complicated and we each have to find what works best for us as a family but to do that intentionally.