Monday, November 20, 2017

Faithful Families Resources for 26 November 2017

Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation.
- C. Everett Koop

Family Closeness
1 to 100
On the left hand side of a piece of paper, list the names of everyone at the table. Two dice are passed from person to person and rolled. When someone rolls a double, they grab the pen and paper, and begin writing the numbers 1 to 100, in order, next to their name. When someone else rolls doubles, they ask for the paper and pen, and begin writing the numbers next to their name. The paper and pen pass around the circle until someone wins by reaching 100. To make the game longer you can get the person who rolls doubles to put on a jacket and hat before they begin to write.

Another variation of this game, that might be used with older children, involves a knife, fork and a block of chocolate. When a person rolls a double, they get the knife and fork, and must cut a single piece of chocolate off the block. The piece must be picked up with a fork and eaten. No hands are to touch the chocolate. Leave the wrapping on the chocolate at the start of the game. To make the game harder you can get the person who rolls doubles to put on a jacket and gloves before they begin to cut.

  • What makes a person a good friend?
  • What do you do that makes you a good friend?
  • What might make someone a good king?
  • What might make someone a bad king?

This Sunday is celebrated by many churches as ‘Christ the King’. It is the last Sunday in the church’s year before the season of Advent, a special time of waiting and preparation for the birth of Christ and his return. Apart from the reading listed below, you might like to read some of the other passages where Jesus uses the image of a king in his parables. Try Matthew 22.1-4 and Luke 19.11-26.

With your family read: Matthew 25.31-46
Questions for Discussion:
  • Who is the Son of Man? (Jesus)
  • What things did Jesus say people did or didn’t do for him?
  • Who did he say they did these things for?
  • When we serve, care for and love those who need our help, we serve, care for and show love for Jesus. What do you think about this?

Prayer and Celebration
In his book, ‘The hour that changes the world,’ Dick Eastman outlines twelve different types of prayer that, if prayed in five minute blocks, enables one to pray effectively for an hour.   For me, the most powerful aspect of this idea is the realisation that there are many different ways to pray. This is an important thing to teach children who often use thankfulness as their default prayer setting. While there is nothing wrong with this, it is of benefit to broaden their prayer horizons.

Praise and Worship

The first type of prayer is praise and worship. Maybe the easiest way for children to get a grasp on this is to describe it as: telling God how wonderful He is and why. Get your family thinking of all the fantastic things about God – His creation, His wisdom, His Son etc. As a form of praise and worship, go around the table getting each person in turn to say a word describing what God is like and a reason He is so great. For example: God, you are powerful because you made all creation.

Now is a great time of year, leading into Advent, to begin to think about how you may serve those in need. Christmas can be a sad and lonely time of year for many people. How might your family serve Christ the King this Advent and Christmas, and make a difference in people’s lives at the same time. Here are a few quick ideas:
  • Place a present under a charity Christmas tree that gives gifts to children.
  • Provide a box to Operation Christmas Child
  • Think of inviting someone in your neighbourhood, who might be alone at Christmas, to spend it with your family.

Bonus Family Activity
Family Time Line
To help your family think about good things God has given you, work together to make a family time line. Draw a line in the centre of a long sheet of paper. Choose a starting date to write at the left end of the line. Your time line may cover a week, a one month period, or the school holidays, or a year. To help family members think of time line events, ask questions such as: “What was something we did that we really enjoyed? How did someone help us in a special way? Who are some new friends our family made?” Display the time line on a wall or door. Allow younger children to enjoy drawing pictures to illustrate the time line. (From Adventures for Growing Families by Wes & Sheryl Haystead.)

Monday, November 13, 2017

Faithful Families Resources for 19 November 2017

Children need models more than they need critics.

Family Closeness
Tumbling Tower
Collect 10 to 20 empty boxes from your recycling bin (or other empty packages like juice bottles or egg cartons). Make sure they are completely empty and seal the topics with sticky tape. The first person picks a box and sets it in place. The next person puts a box on top of it and so on. Keep going until the tower falls over. The person who topples the tower is out and a new round begins.

  • What words do you like? Why do you like them? Is it the sound or what they mean or how they feel when you say them?
  • What is your favourite saying?
  • What words do you most like to hear?

With your family read: Matthew 25.14-30
(for a way of explaining/talking about this reading with children look at

Questions for Discussion:
  • What do you think of this story?
  • Why did one of the servants bury his talent?
  • What do you think is the message of this story?

Prayer and Celebration
North, South, East, West
Get a compass and a map and work out where North, South, East and West are. Find out what communities or countries are in those directions. Try and find out some of the needs of those places. When you pray face each of the different directions and pray for the needs of the places in those directions. This is something you might do over several weeks.

Bonus Family Activity
Dance Night
Rent a dance DVD and learn a new dance together.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Faithful Families Resources for 12 November 2017

Let no Christian parents fall into the delusion that Sunday School is intended to ease them of their personal duties. The first and most natural condition of things is for Christian parents to train up their own children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. ~Katherine Walden

Family Closeness
If I went to Mars...
This game can be played with a range of starting statements such as:
If I went to Mars, I would take...
I went to the shop and I bought...
I went on holidays and I took...

The first player makes up something that they took or bought and says, for example:
If I went to Mars, I would take a green apple.
The next person makes something up and adds it to the previous person's, for example:
If I went to Mars, I would take a green apple and a hat.
Each successive person adds another thing to the list while reciting all the objects previously named. When using this with your family, see how many times you can go around the table before someone makes a mistake. How many objects can your family remember?

These questions are to stimulate a sense of openness, sharing and discovery about your family. The key is to listen! A simple pattern to use might be:
  • What is the best thing and the worst thing that happened to you this week?
  • What is something that you might say thank you to God for this week? (One for the adults particularly to share: Where have you been aware of God’s presence in your life this week? What “God moments” happened to you this week?)
  • What is one thing you think you are good at? Tell the members of your family something you think they are good at.

With your family read: Matthew 25.1-13
Questions for Discussion:
  • This is a parable about being ready to meet Jesus.
  • What made five of the bridesmaids wise?
  • Who do you think the bridegroom is in the story?
  • The job of the bridesmaids was to meet the groom. Why were five not ready?
  • How can we always be ready for Jesus?

Prayer and Celebration
This week, learn a new prayer off by heart, together. Write or find a prayer that you can use with your family every night at mealtimes and family sharing times. The prayer does not have to be complicated, but simple enough for everyone to remember. It might include some lines of thanks or praise or asking. Here is one prayer you might learn together.

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you for all the benefits you have won for us, for all the pains and insults you have borne for us.  Most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day. 
St Richard of Chichester [1197-1253]

Bonus Family Activity
Show and Tell Night
Get each of your family members to share something. It could be a picture they like, a hobby or interest, something they have learned, a joke or story, something they have made or made up, a game, something they found in the back yard.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Faithful Families Resources for 5 November 2017

In every conceivable manner, the family is the link to our past and bridge to our future.
Alex Haley

Family Closeness
Stand Next To…
This is a game that will have your family moving about. Either one person does the call or everyone takes turns. Someone calls out: “Stand next to something that...” and finishes the sentence with whatever they can come up with: “is green”, “has the letter A”, “belongs to mum”, “smells good”, “is edible”. Your imagination is the limit.

  • What is something that makes you laugh?
  • If you could own only three things, what would they be?
  • What is boredom? Why does it happen?

With your family read: Matthew 23.1-12
(for a way of explaining/talking about this reading with children look at

Questions for Discussion:
  • Have you ever heard the phrase “walk the talk?”
  • What do you think it means?
  • What did Jesus say the Pharisees did wrong?
  • How might Christians show off?

Prayer and Celebration

A Prayer of Humility for children adapted from the Litany of Humility:

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me.
Help me to look for what is good in others and forget what is bad in them.
Help me to put others first and not worry if I'm not picked or am ignored.
Help me not to seek approval and not worry about being the centre of attention.
Help me not to be afraid of not being liked or worry about being hurt or not believed.
Help me to look beyond myself, even if it's not my turn, and to help others.
Deliver me, Jesus, from all of these and make me as holy as I should be.
~Author Unknown

Bonus Family Activity
Read a Book Together
Pick a book. It doesn’t need to be a long one and read it out loud together. Some of Dr Seuss’ longer ones might be suitable – for instance, The Five Hundred Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins or Bartholomew and the Oobleck

Monday, October 23, 2017

Faithful Families resources for 29 October 2017

In bringing up children, spend on them half as much money and twice as much time. ~ Author Unknown

Family Closeness
Zip Zap
This is a  basic game consisting of two words: "Zip" and "Zap". Someone will begin the "flow" by turning to the person next to them and saying "Zip". The flow will continue in the same direction with everyone saying "Zip" until someone decides to reverse the flow by saying "Zap." At that time, the person who just got "zapped" will look at the "zap"-er and say "Zip!" Flow then reverses from its original with everyone saying Zip again. Example: The "Zip" starts clockwise around the circle until one person looks the other way and says "Zap." Then the "Zip" flows counterclockwise until someone else says "Zap." 

Zip continues the flow, Zap reverses it. 

If someone says the wrong word, mumbles, stalls, or looks the wrong way for the word they said, they're out. Continue playing until down to two players. 

(From The Source for Youth Ministry)

  • What is or was your favourite nursery rhyme as a child?
  • What is or was your favourite outdoor game to play as a child?

With your family read: Matthew 22.34-40
Questions for Discussion:
  • What does it mean to love God with all your heart, mind and soul?
  • What might this look like? Sound like? Feel like?
  • What does it mean to love your neighbour as yourself?

Prayer and Celebration
Squeezy Prayers
One way to pray is to use "squeezy prayers." Everyone holds hands in a circle. An adult will begin the prayer. When they have finished, they squeeze the person's hand next to them to show it is their turn. They may pray out loud, or silently, or may squeeze the next person. When the squeeze has reached the starting person, they may say another closing prayer or just Amen.

Here are suggestions for ways of using the squeezy prayer:

Using a squeezy prayer, ask God for something that is needed in the world… like peace, or understanding or for help in a particular problem in the world.

Using a squeezy prayer, say thank you for a good friend or friends. Say them by name and even say something you like about them.

Using a squeezy prayer, say thank you for something that you are good at, like a gift God has given you.
Bonus Family Activity
Story Night

Dedicate a night to telling stories. Ask each member to bring and tell a story. This could be something that happened to them, a story they have made up or the retelling of a story that they have read. Stories are not allowed to be read.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Faithful Families Resources for 22 October 2017

The family should be a closely knit group. The home should be a self-contained shelter of security; a kind of school where life’s basic lessons are taught; and a kind of church where God is honoured; a place where wholesome recreation and simple pleasures are enjoyed.

~ Billy Graham, “My Answer.”

Family Closeness
Feely Bag
Get two bags or two old socks. Place identical items in each of the two bags or socks. Some suggested items to use are: bottle caps, cotton balls, small sponge pieces, keys, large buttons, etc. Show your children the two bags and match each set of two items one to one. In this way, the child will see and understand that there are two identical items of each kind. Refill the two bags or socks and give one of the bags containing identical objects to the child. Take one of the objects out of the bag and show it to the child. Tell the child to feel in his bag for an object that is just like the one that you took out of your bag. Remind the child to "feel" not look. 
  • When do you feel closest to your family?
  • When do you feel God’s presence with you the most?
  • What is your favourite place to be by yourself?

With your family read: Matthew 22.15-22
(for a way of explaining/talking about this reading with children look at

Questions for Discussion:
[The Pharisees thought they could trick Jesus with this question about taxes. If Jesus said, ‘no, don’t pay tax’, then he would be in trouble with the Romans, but if he said, ‘yes, pay tax’ then the people would think he approved of Rome. His answer here suggests we need to honour the Government and honour God.]
  • What things should we do to be a good citizen?
  • What things should we do to be faithful to God?
  • Do you think the two ever come into conflict?
  • If being a good citizen conflicted with being a faithful disciple what would you choose to do?

Prayer and Celebration
Praying ACTS
Often children get into the habit of always praying thank you prayers or always praying asking prayers. One way to help them broaden their idea of prayer is to teach them this simple way of remembering some different types of prayer.
A – adoration : Prayers telling God how wonderful He is.
C – confession : Prayers saying sorry for the wrong we have done.
T – thanksgiving : Prayers thanking God for all He has done.
S – supplication: Prayers asking God for the things we and others need.

On different days of the week, you might like to get your family to talk about and pray each of the different types of prayers. Alternatively, you could write the four letters on pieces of paper and pick them out of a hat to determine which one you will use. When it come to confession prayers, help your children think not just about their own personal sin but the things we as a people have failed to do – like care for the environment or the needy.

Bonus Family Activity
Photograph Night
Take your family out on a photographic adventure. Make a list of photos they must take at particular places and go out and get them. E.g. photo with a policeman, a funny photo, a photo with at least two animals.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Faithful Families Resources for 15 October 2017

The daily activities of family life are the canvas for experiencing and sharing their faith life with one another.
~Diana Garland

Family Closeness
Hot Potato
One family member sets a timer for a random amount of time. It could be anything from 10 seconds to 90 seconds or more. If you are using a smart phone timer make sure no one can see it, including the person who set it. An object (it doesn’t have to be a potato) is passed around from person to person until the timer goes off. The person holding the object when the timer goes off must answer a question from other family members or do something silly like sing a song or do a dance or something the family has decided. Play again as many times as you like.

  • What would you do if you were invisible for a day?
  • What kids are popular at school? What do you think makes them popular?
  • How do you think children are affected by movies?

With your family read: Matthew 22.1-10
(for a way of explaining/talking about this reading with children look at

 Questions for Discussion:
  • Why do you think people didn’t go to the wedding banquet?
  • Have you ever not gone to something you were invited to?
  • How did the king make his wedding banquet happen?
  • Who do you think the king in the story is meant to represent?
  • What do you think God might be inviting you to?

 Prayer and Celebration
A Prayer for Children
Loving God,
your Son told his disciples
to become like little children.
Lead us to work for the welfare
and protection of all young people.
May we respect their dignity
that they may flourish in life,
following the example of the same
Jesus Christ our Lord.

A Prayer for Family Life
 God of compassion,
whose Son Jesus Christ, the child of Mary,
shared the life of a home in Nazareth,
and on the cross drew the whole human family to himself:
strengthen us in our daily living
that in joy and in sorrow
we may know the power of your presence
to bind together and to heal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

From the Church of England:

Bonus Family Activity
$5 Dollar Shopping Night.

Take your family to a supermarket and give each member $5 or some other appropriate and affordable amount. Tell them that they will be buying something to contribute to dinner but they are not allowed to tell one another what they are buying. Send them off to make their decision then get back together once you have bought the items. Enjoy your interesting dinner!