Most nights before bed, I tuck in my son with a story. We started with the Jesus Storybook Bible, moved on to the I Am Bible (which he insisted we read at least three times through) and then…we got stuck. We started reading just regular books but honestly, both of us missed our time in the Bible.
So one day, on a whim, as I was putting him to bed I said, “Tonight, you remind me of…” and I picked a Bible character and told his story. The next night he asked me, “What do I remind you of tonight?” and thus, a nightly tradition was born….one that he will persistently remind me of every. single. night. Which is truly sweet and great, except we got through the “main” characters of the Bible pretty fast so now I’m pulling out obscure ones like “the little boy whose lunch Jesus used to feed 5,000” and “the child Jesus placed in the midst of the crowd to explain the kingdom of heaven.”
Regardless, every night, without fail, he asks. And I wonder, “How does he not get bored of asking and doing the same thing over and over and over again?”
One answer, I think, is simply this: Kids genuinely like doing the same thing over and over again. But I think it is more than that. I think that perhaps God enjoys the same thing on repeat and since we are created in God’s image, so do we, even if we don’t always see it as innocently as a child.
G. K. Chesterton put it this way:
“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead.
For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.
It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.
It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
This has always been a powerful statement to me, but I was especially reminded of it this week while listening to the speakers at the D6 Days conference. Two in particular shared things that stuck with me.
The first was Dr. Timothy Paul Jones who spoke about how ministry to families has been changing over the last decade or so. In his conversation, he said, “The reason liturgy works is because it is a story that ties the generations together, that we share together, over and over and over.”
For those of us who attend a church that utilizes liturgy, we know that every week, we say the same words when we recite a creed or before communion or as we pray together. Some people don’t like that but for many it is a powerful experience to say the same words each week that have been said for thousands of years in the church because, as Jones states, it becomes a story that connects us to those who come before us.
It makes us part of something bigger.
Even if your church doesn’t use a liturgical format, it’s likely you have your own liturgy of sorts – a predictable and familiar “way” of doing church that collectively you all flow in together (for example, Welcome, 3 songs, prayer, 2 songs, sermon, 1 song, Dismiss). That liturgy connects you together in a familiar rhythm that you’ve grown to love.
The second person to hit on this theme was Lydia Randall who talked about creating “We Always” moments in the home. She asked us to consider what are the moments that our children, when talking to someone outside of our family, would say, “In our family, we always…” For the Embrees, it would be something like, “We always pray with each other before we leave the house for the day” or “We always eat Chinese food on the day we get our Christmas tree” (it’s true…not sure why… but we always do it).
These “We Always” moments are our own liturgy at home; our unique family rhythm that connects us together and makes us part of something bigger. And those things, especially when Christ is welcomed into them, can be as formational to us as any worship service or prayer meeting we could ever attend.
The repeatable moments. The repetition of phrases and actions. The consistent grace, truth, and love expressed over time.
All of these things are things that God uses, over and over again, to draw us closer to one another and, ultimately, closer to to Him.
Timothy Paul Jones used the word “power” to describe the liturgy. Lydia Randall used the term “strength” to describe the family traditions. G. K. Chesterton used the word “strong” to describe the beautiful monotony of God.
So if we are looking to grow strong families, filled with strength and power, it would make sense then to begin to find ways to repeatedly connect us to a bigger story, both within our home and within our faith;
to find those “We Always” moments and intentionally welcome Christ into them;
to seek out a liturgy that reminds us that our faith is generations deep and centuries wide;
and to discover a God that says “Do it again” every morning to the sun because “He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.“
Tonight my son will ask, “What do I remind of?” and I will struggle to come up with an applicable character (he has given me permission to compare him to women as well in order to make the task more doable) and I will smile because “We Always” do that…and we love it.
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 this Blog
Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and church planter at Plowshares BIC. With years of experience in family ministry and children’s ministry, 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. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed
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