FPCSS Director of Family Ministries and Christian Education
FPCSS Director of Family Ministries and Christian Education
There used to be a dividing wall between us and God, because of our sin, but God has broken down that wall. When we were far away from him, he brought us near. And now, he’s connecting us together, like legos. He’s building a temple for himself, using each of us, as unique blocks, joined together through the blood of Jesus. God is the foundation, and Jesus is the first brick laid to secure each of the others to it, and the Holy Spirit binds us together.
Break out the legos, Mega blocks, wooden blocks, or other building toys, or digitally with Minecraft. Even older kids can get on board with this family challenge. Build a Temple for God. Start with a firm foundation, that is God, and a cornerstone, Jesus, the first brick you lay. Make it as detailed and intricate as you wish. Then, share a picture or screenshot of your creations on the new private FPC Facebook Group! We want to see your house for God!
Has your family ever done a remodel or renovation? Or even just reorganizing a room? Did you take before and after pictures? What a major difference! Or have you watched TV shows about home makeovers? Sometimes the before and afters are unrecognizable. That’s exactly what the Holy Spirit does in us. He tears out the bad, old stuff and installs new, clean things. It’s a process called sanctification and it takes our whole lives. He never gives up working on us and bringing new life to our dead hearts.
Find some before and after pictures to compare. If your family has lived through a renovation, reminisce about how hard it was, but how the end result was worth it. If not, find a friend or family member (to make it personal) who has. Alternatively, if your kids’ room or playroom is particularly messy after a hard day of playing, take a picture. Then, depending on your child’s attention span, spend 10-20 minutes tiyding up. Take another picture afterwards to compare. Show them what a difference even their 10 minutes of cleaning can make. How much more can the Holy Spirit do in our hearts?
Week 3: Ephesians 1:15-23
Verse 11 says we were chosen before God made the world, so we know our past. Verse 14 says we are guaranteed an inheritance, so we know our future. But what about right now? We have security to live and serve others, just like Jesus did by washing his disciples feet. We can use our security, knowing who we belong to, to give to others, to serve others, and to do things that are “beneath” us, because our reputation is not at stake. We already belong to God, so we don’t have to worry what others will think.
Do a family service project. If possible, do it secretly. Mow an elderly neighbor’s yard, or wash their car. Pick up trash on a family walk. Drop off a goody bag for a family in need. Collect gently used toys to donate. Leave a treat for your postal service worker or delivery person. Pay for the person behind you in the drive thru, but make sure to include the kids in the discussion. Better yet, let them make donations to the cause from their own money. Ask your kids for other ideas of people they see in need that they can help.
For a printable version, click here.
Week 2: Ephesians 1:3-14
This passage repeats the phrase “in Christ” or “in him” NINE times. Paul is trying to make it clear that no matter what is going on around us in the culture, our location as Christians is always in Christ! Because we are hidden in Christ, we can have the boldness we need to go against the culture and live as Paul instructs later in this book. If we know who’s we are, we can withstand anything.
Play hide-and-seek with your whole family. Try to include even the youngest members by having them hide with mom or dad. It might take some practice, but even tiny tots can hide under a blanket, in a closet or behind a tree in your yard. Bigger kids can find some pretty creative hiding spaces!
Later, perhaps at naptime or bedtime, talk about how fun it was. Use it as a transition to talk about how we are “hidden in Christ.” Jesus literally covers us, like a blanket. He covers our sin and we can have confidence to live boldly!
AND, as a way to connect the FPC community, take a picture and tag @fpcsiloam on Facebook!
I'm so excited to roll out this new Family Worship Guide! This is a tool to help your family establish and continue worship rhythms and routines together, not just during the Corona Virus Quarantine, but long after as well. While it’s not all inclusive, each element corresponds with our Sunday Morning Worship Service. Since this is our first edition, please click here first to learn more about how to use this guide! For a printable version, click here.
Week 1: Ephesians 1:1-2 & 6:18-24
Paul writes to the Christians in Ephesus about what it means to be distinctly Christian in a world that wants to say “Jesus plus…” For them, it was Jesus, plus Diana/Artemis, or Jesus plus the Emperor. Paul says it’s only Jesus.
Paul also writes to the Ephesian Christians to ask them to pray for him. He, being in prison, was probably going to have to testify soon, and make a decision between standing for Jesus and saving his own life. Paul asks them to pray for the courage to speak boldly about Jesus.
Because knowing what Christians believe is important to how we live, let’s memorize the Apostle’s Creed together. For the youngest children, you can start by teaching one line at a time, with lots of repetition. For older elementary kids, make it a game. Have siblings take turns with every other line or quiz each other. Talk about what each part means and why it’s important. For teens, try asking them to explain it back to you. Ask them to journal about how these beliefs are counter cultural.
This is a tool to help your family establish and continue worship rhythms and routines together, not just during the Corona Virus Quarantine, but long after as well. While it’s not all inclusive, each element corresponds with our Sunday Morning Worship Service. There will be repetition, because that is how we learn. Something we’ve heard a million times can suddenly hit a different way when the Holy Spirit pierces us with it. Lois Evans calls this a “rainbow word.”
Different elements will have varying frequencies. Some, like prayer or song, are daily practices. For those, start simple. Think about the anchors that already exist in your day. What are the constants? Do you always eat breakfast as a family? Gather right before someone leaves for work? Do you assemble for an evening movie or TV show? Perhaps it’s naptime or bedtime routines already in place. Whatever it is, pick an anchor that has a little wiggle room to be stretched just a few minutes longer.
Here’s what you can expect from each element.
Thank you for your patience on this weekly update. I have some exciting news to announce! For the summer, to correspond with the new Ephesians teaching series Jonathan is starting next week, we are going to have a special Family Worship Guide each week.
This new Family Worship Guide will have many of the same elements we’ve been practicing together during the quarantine period. And, we’re adding a “Family Activity” section with interactive ideas to further the concepts we’ve learned Sunday morning through the Scripture reading and sermon, and the discussion questions, prayers and songs we’re practicing through the week. We highly encourage you to share pictures of these family activities on the FPC Siloam Facebook page as a way to foster community while we are unable to meet in person.
For the remainder of this week, here are a few things to revisit from our Bible reading and study practice as specifically adapted from last Sunday’s Trinity Sunday focus (Hebrews 8:1-2; 9:11-15 & 10:19-25):
Preschool and Younger: This age group probably can’t quite grasp the complex concept of the Trinity, but we can start to lay the foundation by talking about God the father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit as we pray together. You can sing the doxology to reinforce this idea of Father, Son, and Spirit. They can also begin to understand the participation that we have with God through our worship. You can help them to better understand that we don’t just have to watch each Sunday, we actually get to join God as we worship him through prayer, song, kindness to others, etc.
Elementary: Kids in this age group are beginning to be able to grasp certain aspects of the Trinity. It is important to convey that the Trinity is a mystery that even adults don’t fully understand, but we can still seek understanding. There are a lot of metaphors, but they tend to require abstract thought which may not be developmentally appropriate yet. Instead, we can focus on the participation we have with the Trinity, our interactions with each person, and our participation in worship. You can use the metaphor of being a sports spectator versus a player on the field. We are invited, by the Trinity, to join in on the field. Ask them how they can participate with God during worship on Sundays and in his work on earth.
Middle and High School: Even as adults, the Trinity is a hard concept. As Pastor Jonathan said, there are a lot of metaphors out there to describe it, but they all fall short. Spend some time talking about several metaphors and how and where they break down. For example, the idea of the Trinity being like water that can be various states of matter (ice, liquid, vapor) breaks down when we realize that they cannot easily all be present at the same time, but God is always all three persons continuously and unchanging. This abstract thinking can help them to begin to dive deeper into what we DO know and understand of God and how the three distinct persons interact with each other as ONE God.
Like the other age groups, we also don’t want to miss the important note that Pastor Jonathan makes of being participants in worship, not merely spectators. You can discuss the difference between spectating worship and participation. How can we be active participants with the Trinity in our worship?
We hope you’re looking forward to the new format next week!
As we revisit each intentional practice we’ve covered during this quarantine season, we are back to the practice of song. Specifically, we are focusing on singing the Doxology and our call to worship refrains together.
Evaluate. Is this practice easily and naturally fitting into your family routine? Do your kids randomly start singing refrains on their own? Have you found that singing the doxology as a blessing at lunch time or the refrains at bedtime have fostered spiritual discussions or set the tone for the activity? Great! Keep it up and check out the “Digging Deeper” ideas below.
If it’s not working, again, that’s ok. Let’s brainstorm some ways to tweak this practice to better suit your family rhythms. Does it not fit well with the chosen anchor? If so, move it to a different time. If you’re having trouble remembering the melody of the refrain, check out the FPC Youtube channel for past services and skip a few minutes in. You can rehear the refrain, sing it together, and even reread the call to worship as a family, if you wish.
What if music is just not your family’s thing? We don’t all have the same giftings, but it’s important to remember that over and over, Scripture tells us to use song as a way to praise the Lord. It’s not the only way to worship, but it’s still an important component! If you, as the parent, are feeling self-conscious, remember with young children that they don’t really care how great of a singer you are, they just want to hear your joy. With older kids, it’s ok to be honest about your insecurity and to talk about it. Vulnerable conversation might lead to deeper connection. If your children are self-conscious about singing together, you can return to some of the ideas from the previous discussion.
Digging Deeper - If things are going well for you, try expanding your song set to include these additional worship refrains:
For older kids and teens, have each family member find their favorite hymn. Research together the hymnist, their life story, the circumstances in which they wrote the particular hymn, and the impact that the hymn has made on history. If you have instrumental musicians in the family, check out this Public Domain Hymn list for sheet music.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve focused on creating intentional practices with our families. I have to be honest, some of them are easier than others. My family has successfully implemented the Lord’s Prayer into our bedtime routine. Reviewing the catechisms, on the other hand, has been more difficult. We are still working on tweaking that practice to make it work for us. Remember that, like any new habit, it takes time to establish, and it may take some adjustments to make it work for the long haul.
Evaluate - Beginning with prayer, let’s revisit each spiritual habit and evaluate. Is your newly established prayer time working well for you? If so, great! Keep up the great work. You can flesh out that prayer time even more with the “Going Deeper” suggestions below.
If it’s not working for you, try a change to make it more conducive. Does the anchor you attached your prayer time to need to be changed? Or can you change the order of things? For example, if you have decided to pray at lunch time, and you’ve been trying to pray before eating, but your kids are hangry, try praying after eating. If you’ve attached it to naptime or bedtime and it’s pushing sleep too late, try starting 5 minutes earlier or cutting out another part of the routine. If they’re too wound up, try adding a transition activity, like singing a hymn, before the prayer. Brainstorm with your spouse or a friend.
For older kids and teens, ask them to help problem-solve with you. Explain to them why it’s important to pray as a family, and why you personally want to incorporate it. If they have some ownership of the solution, they will be more invested in the outcome. You can say, “I’d really like for us to pray as a family, but it seems like we’re struggling to do it daily. How do you think we could do things differently to be able to pray together? What suggestions would you make for changing it up?” If they shrug it off, ask them to think about it and let you know at a later time. They might just need time to process.
Going Deeper - If things are going well for this, consider how you can stretch it just a little. If you aren’t already, try adding an open prayer time for each member to pray aloud before or after the Lord’s Prayer. Think about specific praises, requests, intercession, etc.
Consider the ACTS Prayer:
Adoration (Praise God for who He is and for His character)
Confession (Tell God what you have done wrong today, and ask forgiveness)
Thanksgiving (Praise God for specific things He’s done that day)
Supplication (Ask God for what you or others need)
Alternatively, you can use the Lord’s Prayer as the structure, pausing after each section to add specifics. Pause for adoration after “Hallowed be thy name.” Pause for confession after “forgive us our debts.” This can be especially helpful for older children and teens, once they’ve memorized it easily. Younger children may struggle to make the connection to the whole prayer.
You don’t need to add all of these at once. Try focusing on one type of prayer each day. For younger children, you can focus on one for a whole week, or rotate them each day of the week until they get the hang of them. Maybe your child is already particularly good at remembering to pray for other people. You can encourage them to focus on confession or adoration. The goal is to teach our children how to pray and establish the spiritual discipline of prayer with them so that as they grow, it will continue to be a part of their spiritual walk.
If it’s new, having conversations about spiritual things can be difficult. It can feel artificial to simply start those discussions out of the blue. Initiating a Bible study time at home can also seem a little stiff, especially if you’ve never done it before or haven’t done it in a while. But there are some things that can make it less so.
Teachable Moments - You’ve probably heard about teachable moments, or seizing an opportunity when a subject arises naturally. Sometimes a Bible story can be applicable to a specific situation you and your child are dealing with. For example, recently my girls were fighting and worrying very much about what the other person’s responsibility was, rather than their own. It was a perfect opportunity to share Jesus’ words in Matthew 7 about the speck in your brother’s eye versus the plank in your own eye. Afterward, we were able to refer back to that lesson and give language to the situation when it came up again. There have also been times where my children have started the conversation by asking a good question that led to some important discourse. Sometimes we take advantage of these teachable moments, and other times we miss them. That’s ok! It’s part of the process of learning to parent and learning to be like Jesus.
Jumping Off Points - Sometimes we have to “manufacture” these moments a little more. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to feel manufactured. Similar to the idea of finding anchors in the day to which we can attach spiritual disciplines, we can find jumping off points that allow us to naturally ask questions and get conversation flowing. This is an especially useful tactic when digesting information from a third party, like from church service or Sunday School class, a news story, a book, or a video.
The Third Element: Bible
Discussing a Bible passage can be a jumping off point if reading passages of Scripture is already well established in your home. If it’s not, using the passage from the weekly sermon as a jumping off point can help to establish Bible study as a normal rhythm in your home.This week, Jonathan examined the story of Peter being restored from John 21:15-25. From there, you may find that your child’s appetite grows and you can nudge your family practice of Bible reading to extend beyond the sermon into stories and passages your family wants or needs to investigate further.
Here are some age appropriate ways to revisit this passage and sermon: