Last summer I shared an idea for helping families form faith: providing each family at your church with a plastic pail filled with fun faith-nurturing tools to use at home.
This year our summer will include social distancing, new normals, and changed routines. Depending upon where you live, churches, community centers, and playgrounds may still be closed or may be re-opening with new rules to keep everyone safe. Visits with friends and families will look very different. And parents? Well, they’re just plain tired.
So I’m baaaack with a special 2020 edition of last year’s summer idea. The goal remains the same: Equip families with fun, tech-free ways to form faith while encouraging them to see faith nurture as part of what makes an ordinary day.
Last year we filled beach pails, this year let’s use a simple box—the kind of box you’ve seen stacked up near the scrapbooking section at Michaels or near the gift wrap section of the dollar store. Looks like a shoe box. Feels like a shoe box. But by the end of the summer it’s going to be a Summer 2020 Memory Box (see the image attached below). Here’s what you do with it:
- Create your box (ideas below).
- Plan a socially distanced way to get them to families via a porch drop off, a church parking lot pick up, or whatever way works best in your location.
- Pray for the families with children in your community and anticipate the day when you’ll be able celebrate God’s faithfulness during the summer of 2020 in person together.
So let’s do this! First, fill one box for per family with some of the items listed below. Add your own ideas too!
- A good quality Bible storybook (my new fave is Growing in God’s Love: A Story Bible) and/or a resource featuring simple practices and activities for building faith. I love the pocket-sized Everyday Family Faith and the palm-sized God’s Big Story cards.
- Jam jar or other clear container filled with strips of paper featuring fun things to do. (You’ll find a printer-friendly copy of 40 Ideas for Families in the attachment below; just print it out and cut the ideas on the pages apart.)
- Snack to share. Microwave popcorn or a package of cones for ice cream are fun, easy ideas.
- Small blank notebook
- Printed copy of 5 Ways to Wonder with Kids. (Download it free from Dwell at Home!)
- Magnifying glass
- Inflatable beach ball
- Container of play dough or a package of Wikki Stix
- Bottle of bubbles
- Clipped-together copies of all of the wonderful children’s resources you normally send home with kids each Sunday and which they missed out on getting this spring because the church building was closed. #summer #reading
- A card on which you’ve printed a message about the contents. Here’s mine--you can write your own to reflect the contents of your box:
This summer you have a wonderful opportunity to be more intentional about forming faith at home without the pressure of having places to be and things that need doing. We hope these items help your family grow in faith as you talk together, laugh together, and meet challenges together. Here’s how you might use them:
- Use the devotional resource to build some great new faith habits.
- Select a strip from the jar each day and do that thing. Let your kids come up with ideas and add them to the jar too!
- Eat the snack while talking about a Bible story. Use the “5 Ways to Wonder with Kids” ideas to guide your conversation.
- Record little notes about the day together in the notebook: the highs, the lows, your prayers (and God’s answers!), where you saw God today, a verse you’re learning, etc.
- Explore creation with the magnifying glass.
- Catch the ball as you complete this sentence: “Thank you, God, for ______!”
- Use the playdough to shape (and guess!) something God made.
- Take turns blowing bubbles while saying silent prayers.
- Turn the box into a Summer 2020 Memory Box by adding things to it that serve as reminders of the experiences you have together. A feather found on a walk, a painted rock, the score sheet from the game you played, pictures you drew, the family journal you kept, etc. In the future you’ll be able to take out that box and review the contents while remembering God’s faithfulness to you during this time.
Remember, God’s got this! And we’re here for you too.
God’s Big Family, your church
In their wonderful book Dear Parent: A Guide for Family Faith Formation, Laura Keeley and Robert J. Keeley write, “In our cultural context, we quickly focus on the doing aspect of faith. . . . But faith isn’t just about doing. It’s also about being and dwelling” (p. 25). During this extraordinary summer, let's use the fresh opportunity we've been given to help families form faith as they experience both being and dwelling in ordinary ways together.