Today when I was running errands with my kids, I realized I had a captive audience strapped in booster seats in the van. So, I took the opportunity to ask them what they learned at Sunday School this week. Everyone had learned a New Testament lesson about Peter—my younger one about how God miraculously released him from prison (Acts 12), and my older boys learned about the amazing vision God had given Peter, which led him to Cornelius’ house (Acts 10).
I asked a couple of questions about what the lessons meant to them and what they had learned about God. It was a quick conversation and then we were on to the next thing, but I was glad for the opportunity to reinforce what they had learned in God’s Big Story.
As a mom and a spiritual formation pastor, I know that so much of what helps us grow in our faith and as disciples of Jesus has to do with both day-to-day walking with Jesus and exciting, once-in-a-lifetime faith milestones that we remember forever.
In a church context, we know that we are only with kids for an hour or two each week (if we’re lucky!). Kids’ main spiritual formation moments come at home with families.
So it’s worth it to think through how you can partner with families through resources and ideas that will help them as they raise their kids to know and love Jesus as they realize that He knows and loves them!
Partnering with Parents: Helping Families with Daily Formation
The bulk of our Christian journey is probably not all that exciting or eventful. Discipleship is mostly just a daily walk with Jesus—small choices that form us into His likeness. Theologian Eugene Peterson called it a, “long obedience in the same direction.”
Providing resources for families to make it easier for them to incorporate wonder of God into their everyday will make a big difference in children’s formation.
The Bible is Key
Help families incorporate the Bible into their daily lives. Recommend children’s Bibles to parents with young children, and provide Bible reading plans for families with older kids. Families can slowly begin to work their way through reading all of God’s story together!
Partnering with Parents in Prayer
Also help families learn how to pray together. Have you taught kids the Lord’s Prayer at your church? If not, consider saying it with the kids each week.
You can then send home a resource to help families know how to pray through the Lord’s prayer together in practical ways. How can they make God’s name holy in their home? Where do they need to see His kingdom come? Where can they ask for forgiveness together?
At my home, every night when we put our kids to bed we each share something we were thankful for in the day. It’s a simple practice, but it helps us notice God’s work in our lives, and then we pray and thank God together. Encourage families with simple, easy-to-do activities that will make a big difference for them.
Music is Powerful
We have all been blessed by hearing the praises of kids as they worship together. Music is a powerful tool for faith formation. As we sing words that tell us truths about God, those lyrics sink into our hearts and often come to mind when we need them.
Make playlists available for your families with the worship songs from Wonder Ink by Shout Praises Kids and other Scripture-based songs that families can listen to at home. (As I am writing this, my kids are literally singing a song they learned at church while they’re cleaning up their rooms!)
Partnering with Parents: Big Event Formation Moments
In our journey with Jesus, we also need times to stop and celebrate! These moments—things like baptism or holidays are so significant in our faith lives.
One of the ways you can help families with their spiritual formation is by providing special events for them in your church context. These types of events aren’t just about fun or entertainment—the goal here is intentional gatherings to help families go deeper in their faith together.
At my church this past spring, we had a lot of formation events during Holy Week—the week right before Easter Sunday. Our children’s pastor provided something for families every single day of the week! (It was a lot. We’ll see if we do it again next year. Ha!)
We did a churchwide God’s story worship event that families were invited to attend. We had a family movie night (Prince of Egypt). We also did a family-friendly Passover meal. This event was amazing!
Together we learned about how God rescued His people from slavery and saw how He repeated it in a bigger way through Jesus’ death on the cross. We encouraged families to come to our Good Friday service, then on Saturday our children’s pastor put together a walk through the garden event that culminated in an invitation to celebrate with us on Easter Sunday!
These kinds of events require planning and preparation, but they can be so worth it! Kids will remember these big events and the things that they learned about who God is and what He is like, which is the ultimate goal.
Ultimately, we want to help kids grow in their faith so that as they become independent, their love of the Lord will not be abandoned. Any way you can help families walk with Jesus day-by-day is worth it so that they can be filled with wonder for our awesome God!