This morning, our family woke up and the usual morning line-up of breakfast, coffee, gathering school items, solidifying after-school plans, quick prayer, kiss on the cheek and fly out the door took place. If you know, you know. On my way out the door, I found myself reminiscing about the slower pace of our lives last year where we didn’t wake up and immediately scatter to the winds. As glad as I am that we are re-engaging with life, I must admit… I rather liked the year of getting to spend lots of quality time with my family.
And I’m not the only one. A recent study found that over half of parents weren’t “ready” to get back to pre-Covid lifestyles and 39% of kids agreed. Some families have found this time together to be not only a healthy experience for their family, but one that they don’t want to lose. Even before Covid hit, 87% of families indicated they were often looking for ways to spend time together.
What better place for that to happen than within the faith community? What if instead of returning to “life as normal” post-Covid, this could be a time to begin to intentionally find spaces for families to worship, grow, and learn about God together in church?
It’s important to recognize that each church has a unique culture, community and mission, so there isn’t a “one size fits all” approach to this type of intergenerational, family-focused ministry. But here are five ideas that might be a place to start.
These ideas come from a variety of different church backgrounds and traditions, so they will not ALL work for your ministry context, but chances are one might strike a chord and you will be able to begin working towards more and more times where the family experiences faith formation together with their faith community.
Family Service Projects – What better way to bring the family together than in an opportunity to serve Christ and others as a unit? There are many ways to engage the family in service. Check with your local food pantries and Salvation Army to see if there are ways families can work together stocking shelves or organizing donations. Many local soup kitchens or churches who serve meals will welcome family groups to serve together. Check also with local mission and ministries that serve the poor, homeless or other marginalized groups to see how families can offer assistance.
Children and youth express their faith through actions rather than statements of belief. When asked what a Christian is they will say things like, “A person who goes to church” or “A person who does good things, loves others, is kind, serves other, etc” Engaging the family in the act of serving together can be one of the most transformational and meaningful ways to connect faith with everyday life and create bonds in the family that last long after their time of serving has ended.
Family Worship Sundays – Many churches have begun offering times of Family Worship, often once a month or on fifth Sundays, where the family stays together and worships as a unit. These Sundays should not be confused with Children’s Sundays or times where kids perform for the church. While these are special times for the church as well, they are more focused on children than they are families.
A Family Sunday will incorporate ways for the family to experience worship together such as communion, prayers said aloud with the whole church, worship songs that everyone know and can sing to, a sermon that is appropriate for all ages and elements of the service that invite participation of parents/caregivers and children such as Scripture readings by families and prayer as families. For ideas on how to include families in worship on Sunday, check out this article: https://childrensministry.com/intergenerational-worship/
Family Worship Experiences – There are a few subtle difference between a Family Worship Sunday, where the family joins with the whole congregation in a regular worship service time, and Family Worship Experiences where families are specifically targeted and ministered to. Often these experiences take place at a time other than Sunday morning and incorporate a variety of interactive activities, worship, and teaching.
Some great examples can be found at www.dandibell.com and if you want a group to come in to host, Seeds Family Worship has one they do in connection with Phil Vischer and What’s in the Bible? with Buck Denver.
Family Faith Formation – For some, inviting the family to stay together takes place best in a mid-week experience. One church I served at chose this path to help the family grow and learn together. We had so much fun using these nights to explore the Bible together. We wrote our own curriculum in 5-week blocks based on what families have indicated they want to learn. Each household unit sat in chairs in a circle and explore Scripture, do activities, and participate in a time of affirmation and blessing each night. Our topics have included Prayer, Salvation, The Bible, God as Creator, and Service. This curriculum has been updated with both Gathered and Scattered items!
Kids absolutely love spending this time with their parents. Of all the programs we had at that church, this one got the highest praise from children. You can receive a discounted copy of the first five-week block of this curriculum by filling out the contact form below and putting “Family Faith Formation” in the Subject line!
Family Activities – If your church isn’t ready yet to host a Family Sunday or Family Worship Experience, one idea is to begin hosting Family Activities on a monthly basis. These activities should have as their central theme the idea of having family spend time together either with/around the larger faith community, around service to the larger community, or around worship and the Word as a family unit. Putting these focuses on a rotating basis can help your families begin to spend intentional time together around the topics of faith, community, and outreach.
For instance, one month you could host a Family Game Night at church (time with faith community), and the next offer an activity that families can do at home that include a Faith Talk and time in God’s word (time with worship/Word), and then the next month offer a service experience in the community that families can do together (outreach). By offering a variety of ways for families to come together around the themes of faith, community, and service, you can begin to cultivate times of faith formation for the whole family to engage in together.
This list is by no means exhaustive and I know there are many more ideas out there. I would love for this to be a place where we can share our thoughts and ideas in the comments below. What is your church doing to allow households to gather and grow together within your faith community?
Let’s Get Started Together!
ReFocus Ministry is excited to offer “Everyday Discipleship: A Workshop for Parents/Caregivers.”
This one-hour workshop covers an unlimited number of parents from your church to join us for a seminar including an Everyday Discipleship worksheet and follow-up resources for parents/caregivers focused on helping support and equip parents for faith formation in their homes.
This workshop has been widely attended by both ministers and parents alike with positive feedback on how it changed their perspective on discipleship in the home and got them excited about sharing their faith with their kids.
This webinar uses a Zoom format and is set up with an individualized code for your church only. All resources will be emailed prior to the webinar so you can distribute to parents with your regular communication.
Interested in learning more?
Fill out the form below with the Message: Everyday Discipleship and we will be in touch!
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
Check out to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page. Join our conversation at theReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry group on Facebook.
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. She also serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship with the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ.
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 holds a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry and is completing a Doctorate of Ministry in Spiritual Formation at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.