FPCSS Director of Family Ministries and Christian Education
FPCSS Director of Family Ministries and Christian Education
Reviewing catechisms is a big task. So, how are you doing? Has it been challenging or easy? Are your kids picking them back up quickly? Do they feel like it’s more school work? It’s ok if this is a struggle. It doesn’t mean you’re failing, and it doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel. Consider experimenting with some changes if needed. You could try attaching it to a different anchor. If you’ve been attempting this in addition to school time, try making it your dinner discussion. Or if you’ve been putting it off until to the end of the day but keep forgetting, try making it part of your “get ready” routine in the morning.
Something simpler. This week’s challenge will hopefully come a little more easily for most of us, and especially for our children. Music! Songs and hymns are one of the most powerful teaching tools the church has used throughout history. Even before preschoolers can read, they can sing along with the Doxology. And we adults still remember the songs we learned as children.
The Third Element: Song
There are lots of ways to include song in our everyday rhythms. But instead of leaving this open ended, let’s do something specific together. We’ll focus on two things: the doxology, and the Call to Worship refrains that our Director of Worship and Arts, Jen, has created for this Easter season. Here’s the refrain from Psalm 100 that will be repeated next week:
|D C |G
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
And his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him.
|Bm |A G|
Bless his name; bless his holy name.
We are working on a recording, but for now, you can find it here, beginning at the 3:32 mark.
As I write, I am impatiently waiting for June 7th and our first in-person gathering in a long while. But as much as I am ready to get back to “normal,” I have to confess that there are some things I will miss about this time. It has been an opportunity to pause and reflect on what our family’s normal has been and the ways I would like it to be different.
This week, my family has recited the Lord’s Prayer every night at bedtime right along with you. Bedtime is a natural anchor for us and it’s been a precious time of spiritual discussion for my kids. The Lord’s Prayer has helped provide a framework for our typically meandering prayers. It brings up questions about the nature and character of God and teaches our children how to pray like Jesus. I hope that if you’ve been intentionally including the Lord’s Prayer in your daily rhythms, you have also found it to be helpful. In case you missed this suggestion from last week, you can catch up here.
Let’s build on it. Prayer is one of the first ways we learn to connect with God. But without solid theology as a foundation for our prayers, it’s easy to treat God like Santa in the sky, distorting His image to look more like what we want Him to be. The good news is that our children are already laying that strong foundation by memorizing the Catechisms in Sunday morning and Wednesday evening classes. Practice them as a family to reinforce these truths!
Define your anchors. For some families, the daily anchor will be at the same time as the Lord’s Prayer. For others, it will need to be at a different time. Keep your children’s attention spans in mind. Five minutes here and there, sprinkled throughout the day, might be more effective than trying to make them sit still for 30 minutes to an hour at a time. Or perhaps you will find that catechism discussions naturally flow out of your prayer time, or vice versa. You know your family best.
The Second Element: Study
The New City Catechisms are available with corresponding verses, commentary, prayers and even songs for the younger kids on their free app (Click here). For kids in The Well (4th grade) and below, you will want to enable the “Children’s Mode” by tapping the gear at the top right corner and moving the slider to “on.” This will enable the shorter answers and songs that go along with each question.
Just a reminder... We’re encouraging families to do this together, because we as a church family are doing this together. As you have interactions with one another on social media, via texts and messages, or six feet apart at the grocery store, you can ask one another how it’s going, what anchors the other is using, or which songs are their kids’ favorites. If you feel comfortable, post pictures or encouragement on social media while tagging FPC Siloam. It may help others feel slightly less isolated until we can meet in person again!
For the past six or so weeks, there has been a collective pause. And in this pause, we have the unique opportunity to examine our typical practices. We have a moment to think intentionally about how our families function, the rhythms and routines we participate in. We are all anxious to get back to “normal.” and it would be easy for us, at the end of this time to just pick up and start right back where we were.
But what if… what if we began practicing some intentional rhythms now that we could carry forward. What if we did it together, as individual families and collectively as a church family? What if we established these in the next few weeks so that when life returns to normal, we could continue them? It only takes 21 days to establish a habit, so let’s make the most of this time.
How? Start simple. Think about the anchors that already exist in your day. There are a few less of them right now, perhaps, but what are the constants? Do you always eat breakfast as a family? Right before your essential worker leaves for the day? Do you find yourself all around the dining table to begin your school and office work? A mandatory break time halfway through school work? Do you all gather 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.
Now what? We’re going to add one element at a time. Remember, this is something we’re doing together as a church family. We hope that as you add an element, you will think about the other families at FPC who are doing the same thing during their day.
The first element: Prayer
The first element we want to add is family prayer. But, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Use the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, the one we say every Sunday, the Lord’s Prayer. Pick your anchor time and recite the Lord’s Prayer aloud. Here are some age appropriate ways to do so:
Go one step further. If you’re already doing this and looking for a bit more, give your children an opportunity to add intercessory prayer for friends, family members, ministries across the world, specific groups of people, etc. Or add prayers of confession. Lead by example with these by going first and sharing your own concerns for others or shortcomings. You don’t have to be explicit in ways that are not age appropriate, but confessing to God and asking forgiveness for a short temper or a bad mood can go a long way in spiritual education for children.
Lastly download the New City Catechism app if you haven’t already. It’s free and easy to use. Familiarize yourself with it, as we’ll use it next week! Or find your New City Catechism book, if physical books are more your thing. (Let me know if you need a copy, we have a few extras.)