One of the great blessings of the Advent season for my family is that it’s always provided a structure that allows us to succeed at daily family devotions. My kids were pretty young when we first added a daily Advent reading into our Christmas countdown, and I’ll never forget what happened when we came to December 26.
As we finished our normal evening routine of baths and pjs, our kids automatically sat down in our reading spot and expectantly requested our Advent reading. In a total parent fail, we initially said something about Advent being over. Then, realizing that our 2- and 4-year-old were asking us to read them the Bible, we quickly recovered, pulled out their children’s story Bible, and continued reading.
I’ve thought back to this often, as the imagery of my young kids eagerly waiting to hear more of God’s Big Story contrasted with the reality of our neglect to plan past the Advent season is just too funny. Since that initial blunder, we’ve come to learn that Advent is almost a yearly reset for our family, a time when the rhythm of the season allows us to get back into the habit of family devotions. If we’re intentional about building on this habit, it can extend into the new year.
For other families, Advent may have been a time so full of other things that they found they never got around to daily devotions, but they'd love to be more intentional about doing so in the new year.
The new year provides you with a wonderful opportunity to help families prepare now for how they'll enter the year with a plan for family faith formation. Here to help you in this important task are our Dwell at Home resources. These are written to help parents and caregivers connect what children learn in the Dwell sessions to the rest of their week, bringing God’s story alive as families eat dinner, prepare for bedtime, or drive from one activity to another. Though they are written as an extension of the Dwell curriculum, any family would be blessed by these wonderful resources.
You can view all of the resources on the Dwell at Home site, but here are two that will be particularly helpful to share with parents preparing for a year of family faith formation:
- God’s Big Story cards: These are a great follow-up to Jesse Tree: God’s Big Advent Story, as they follow a similar style. Each card includes a Bible verse, a suggested way to retell the story, wondering questions, recommendations for prayer, praise, and sharing times, and a suggested response. If your church uses the Dwell program, every story children hear in their Dwell group has a corresponding card their parents can use to explore the story at home.
- 5 Ways Resources: These helpful lists are a fantastic way to work on specific aspects of family faith formation. If a family wants to improve their prayer life, they can check out 5 Ways to Pray with Kids. Looking for ways to make Bible reading more engaging for children? There are some fantastic suggestions in 5 Ways to Retell a Bible Story. Want to give families a great starting point? Share 5 Ways to Help Your Family Grow in Faith with them, recommending they pick a few things to focus on in the coming year. Check out the Dwell at Home page to view all the 5 Ways resources.
These next two weeks are some of the busiest of the year, but you can encourage families to find just 15-30 minutes to sit and dream about how they might like to grow in the coming year. You might also like to share with them this helpful post that includes a dozen great resources for parents: Twelve Ways Your Church Can Support Young Parents. A little planning now will result in great blessings as families enter the new year equipped and ready to nurture their faith.