A few weeks ago, I shared my thoughts on the dilemma many families face in the summer when they feel like they need to choose between spending time together as a family and going to church. (Wanna read? Click here). Regardless of whether you “go-cation” or “stay-cation,” summer brings the luxury of longer days, relaxed schedules, fun activities, and lots of great things for the family to do together.
Here are some easy ways you can make sure that Jesus is a part of all of those great summer experiences.
1. Make a Mix “Tape”
Remember the good old days? Just you, your dual cassette recorder, and your favorite songs? Did I just date myself? Anyway, there are a lot of fun ways to make a mix of all of your kids’ favorite church songs. Ask your children’s pastor or worship leader what songs the kids have been singing over the past year and put together a mix. You could burn a cd, add it to your Itunes or even make a play list on YouTube. When you are in the car or sitting at home, pop it in and spend some time singing, dancing, and worshipping with your kids, with songs they know and love!
2. Play Secret Servant
This game is like Secret Santa only instead of giving material gifts, instead you are doing “random acts of kindness.” Everyone in the family chooses a name and then their job is to secretly serve that person for whatever amount of time your family can handle the “not knowing.” A month about tops it for our family and at the end, we do a “reveal” dinner and find out who was our secret friend for the month.
For younger kids, it’s good to have a list of ideas or pictures of things they can do for others like helping to clean, washing their bike, making a snack, etc. so that they can have plenty of ways to serve.
3. Find a Place to Serve Together
Sometimes the fun isn’t in doing something secretly but doing something together. Lots of families will go on family missions trips but if that’s outside your budget or not the right age for your kids, there are a lot of other ways you can serve together as a family. You could bake cookies for your neighbors, run a free car wash, serve at a local food pantry or free meal program, host a neighborhood potluck, visit the shut-ins or homebound members of your church, make up a picnic lunch and give it to another family, etc. Making service a family activity is not only fun, but it is the #1 ways researchers have found that teens connect their faith in Jesus to their life. Make Jesus come alive by being His hands and feet together!
4. Do a Summer Bible Reading Program
You know how the library has a cool reading program with lots of prizes for kids? Why not do the same for your children? Pick a book of the Bible (or do a Google Search for a Bible reading program for kids) and break it down into weeks for the summer. Read with them or if their older have them read on their own. Be sure to include a component, such as a question or a re-written verse, for each day that helps them connect more deeply to the word. DO IT WITH THEM so that you can talk about it when you sit and when you rise, when you walk along the road and when you go to bed at night! And get some cool prizes because that’s just super fun!
5. Complete a Prayer Project
Have your family brainstorm about some things that they really want to concentrate on praying for or about. It could be anything from friends and family in need to global issues they’ve heard about on the news. Make a poster with your topic on it and hang it somewhere in the house where family members can see it. Throughout the summer, write prayer requests, add pictures, celebrate answers, and decorate the poster with your family’s prayers. If you want some cool ideas to make prayer come alive for your family, check out these Four Fun and Simple Ways to Pray with Your Kids.
Summer vacation is the perfect time to be intentional about the time you get to spend together as a family! Are there any fun traditions or activities you do in your home or ministry? I’d love to hear from you! And if you’d like to join the larger family ministry conversation, check out our group page on Facebook and join with ministers and parents in talking about how we can equip the home, engage the church, and disciple the youngest generations!
For more information about
- Kids in Worship
- Determining which Type of Family Ministry model works best for your church
- Discipleship in Intergenerational community
- Encouraging the continued conversation through Practical Discipleship at Home
- Seminars, Workshops, Coaching
About the author
Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com.