After our second child was born, a colleague at the local public school where my husband worked sent us a package in the mail. Inside it was gift-wrapped copy of The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories by Mary Batchelor. He knew we were Christians. What he didn’t know was that, with our mountain of student debt and my decision not to return to paid work after the baby was born, we would never have been able to afford such a beautiful Bible storybook ourselves. We still have it.
A few months into the beginning of the pandemic, Dr. Tori Smit, a ministry colleague from the Presbyterian Church in Canada, said to me, “One of the best things that the church could do for families with children right now is to make sure that every one of them has a wonderful storybook Bible to use at home.” I agree.
Parents are tired, y’all. They’re tired of being their child’s teacher and social network in addition to their parent. They’re tired of not being able to access a babysitter so they can take a break. They’re tired of not being able to visit their own parents. Parents are tired of being tired.
But parents are especially tired of looking at screens. And that, my wonderful ministry leader friends, may be why so many of them aren’t showing up to view all of the wonderful videos you’ve been creating for them or the fabulous links you’ve been sending to them. That day will come again. But for now, they are tired. (So are you!)
The faith formation supports that families with children are craving right now from their church family involve three-word sentences delivered over the phone, on the porch, or in the mail:
“This is hard.” “We love you.””God loves you.” “We are praying.” “And sending hugs.” “You’ll be okay.”
And when those loving words are sent with a tangible, encouraging “thing” that parents can hold in their hands and use as they encourage the faith of their children, even better. Christmas offers your church a perfect time to do that for your families, no matter how big or small your church budget may be. Below you’ll find some ideas to get you started.
Print and tuck inside a Christmas card one of the following fabulous resources:
- 5 Ways to Help Your Family Grow in Faith
- 5 Ways to Retell a Bible Story with Kids
- 5 Ways to Wonder with Kids (for other titles in this series, check out this Dwell at Home page.)
Provide each family with a Faith5 bookmark. At $13.00 (U.S.) per 100, these are an incredible deal. Bonus: You could send this gift to every household, not just those with children.
Encourage and equip every family to spend time in God’s story in 2021 by giving them the wildly popular Everyday Family Faith or God’s Big Story cards devotional resources. At a bulk price of $10 or less each (U.S.), the biggest challenge will be deciding which one to give! Tip: Everyday Family Faith’s pocket size makes it perfect for mailing; God’s Big Story cards are a great follow-up if your families used the God’s Big Advent Story: Jesse Tree or if your church uses the Dwell or Dwell Flex curriculum. (Shout out to River Terrace CRC in East Lansing for making this fabulous video to introduce the cards to families.)
Worth the Splurge
Does every family with children in your church have access to a quality children’s storybook Bible? If that’s something you’re able to provide, here's one that I'm loving this year:
- Growing in God’s Love, A Story Bible. Priced at around $20 U.S. (and, gulp, $30 Canadian), it’s worth the splurge if you have room in your budget.
Another recommendation in this category is Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home by PCUSA pastor Traci Smith. At a time when our days seem to blend together and we’re missing the communal commemoration of milestones, Traci’s book, with its simple ideas for turning everyday events into sacred moments at home, couldn’t be needed more. Order from Chalice Press to get a bulk rate on this one.
And one more outstanding value for the littlest among us
There’s a reason that the God Loves Me books have been beloved by churches for more than 20 years. They’re amazing! And, fun fact, you can purchase them individually as well as in a set. Whether you choose a Christmas-themed title (Jesus Is Born, An Amazing Star, or Good News!) or select an Old Testament or New Testament story, the price is the same, less than $5.00 per copy (in both the U.S. and Canada)!
Earlier I mentioned the three-word phrases that families with children need to hear right now. Here’s one more. Last week I answered our front door and saw my neighbor, Mary, a wonderful church lady I’ve known for years, standing a safe distance away with a freshly baked loaf of raisin bread in her hand. Arms extended, she passed it to me with these three words, “It’s just because.”
How many families might your church bless with a “just because” this Christmas?