Sunday, August 31, 2014

Faithful Families Resources August 31 2014

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. ~Deuteronomy 6.4-7

Family Closeness
Blind Draw
Everyone is given a sheet of paper and a pen. You have three minutes to draw a picture of something that everyone agrees to...but you must either close your eyes or be blindfolded or have the light turned out.

  • What is the hardest thing about being (your age) years old?
  • What is the best thing about being (your age) years old?
  • What things don’t boys understand about girls?
  • What things don’t girls understand about boys?

With your family read: Matthew 18.15-20
(for a way of explaining/talking about this reading with children look at

 Questions for Discussion:
  • Why do you think it might be wise to point out someone’s sin against you in private first?
  • What kinds of sins do you think this instruction might cover?
  • Are their things people might do which should immediately be taken to someone in power like  a parent or teacher or police officer?
  • Why might it be necessary to take someone with you if someone won’t listen to you when you point out their sin?
  • How did Jesus treat tax collectors and sinners? 

Prayer and Celebration
Prayers of Confession
Prayers of confession are a normal part of a Christian’s prayer life. All of us, including children do things we wish we hadn’t, or don’t do the things we should. Confession, saying sorry and asking God for forgiveness is something that parents should model to children. There are various ways we might engage our children in prayers of confession.

Burning Prayers
Your family might like to individually write down things they would like to say sorry for. These prayers might then be placed in a bowl and burnt as a symbol of God’s forgiveness.
The following words might be used to help children have a language for this type of prayer:
 I got really angry today.  I think I know why, and I wish I wouldn’t.  I feel so out of control.  I feel disappointed.  Jesus, I am sorry for any hurt I have caused today.  Help me to be gentle.  Help me to love more and more.  Help me to love.

Help me to put aside the things that hurt others, you, and me.  I am sorry for . . . .  Grant your grace to me, that I might grow more into who I am, and who you call me to be.

Words from scripture might be used to help children see that God takes away our sins from us and forgives us.
These could include:
If you sin, Jesus Christ always does the right thing, and he will speak to the Father for us. Christ is the sacrifice that takes away our sins and the sins of all the world’s people.” (1 John 2:1–2, CEV)

How far has the Lord taken our sins from us? Farther than the distance from east to west!” (Psalm 103:12, CEV)

Recently the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been all over the internet and TV with seemingly everyone including celebrities getting in on the action. This might provide an great opportunity for your family to do two things.
  • Explore creative ways you could raise the profile of a particular charity that you would like to support.
  • Talk about why it is good to give to charity in secret. Read Matthew 6.2 - 4
  • Discuss how you might get the balance between these two right and why they are both important.

Bonus Family Activity
Collage of Dreams
Use photos, words and pictures from old magazines, glue, sparkles etc to make a collage of the things your family would like to do with their life. This might begin by each member making a list of 10 or 100 things that they would like to do in their life…like skydive or write a book or learn to ride a bike. Alternatively the collage might be about things your family might like to do this year together. Put the collage up somewhere visible to remind you of your dreams and plans.

(This material is based on and draws from earlier Faithful Families emails by Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning: An Unless Ideas Production.) Unless otherwise noted all material on this blog is copyright Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Faithful Families Resources August 24 2014

My father didn’t tell me how to live, he lived, and let me watch him do it.
~ Clarence Budinton Kelland

Family Closeness
Letter On
Choose a category of things; it could be food, movies, places. The first person says the name of something in that category. The next person must say another thing in that category that starts with the last letter of the thing you previously said. There is a 10 second limit and nothing can be repeated. 
(from The Source for Youth Ministry)

Your best friend doesn’t invite you to her birthday party. How do you feel? What do you say to your friend?
You are on a school field trip and you just found out that a few of the kids have brought along their pocket knives and are planning to carve their name in a tree. Do you tell the teacher? Why/why not? What do you say to your classmates?

With your family read: Romans 12.9-21
 Questions for Discussion:
  • What do you think about these rules for Christian living?
  • Are doing these things easy of hard? What makes them so?
  • How are we to treat others?
  • How are we to treat enemies?
  • Why do you think followers of Jesus should live this way?

 Prayer and Celebration
Ways to say “I forgive”
At the top of a piece of paper write the words “I forgive you.” Ask “what did God do to show He forgives us?” Then encourage your family to list as many ways as they can which show forgiveness to others. The list may include words and actions. Suggestions of words might be, “That’s ok.” “Its all right.” Suggestions of actions might be hugs, smiles, and handshakes.

Previously my family has spent a day disconnected from technology, prior to making a donation to a charity connected with the famine in east Africa. There are many charities like World Vision who have activities like the Forty Hour Famine that help young people and adults think about what it is like to go without. These are great events but they can at times be difficult for families with young children to engage with. The truth is we shouldn’t need prompting from a charity to help our children think about others.
With my family, we agreed around the dinner table that we would go without technology – tv, computers, games etc – for the day. Now this might seem trivial but the purpose of it was that every time we felt like we wanted to watch TV or go on the computer we remembered that others in the world are going without a lot more than we are, and that we can use what we have to help. Why do this and not just give money? I am passionate about helping my children to grow as thoughtful disciples of Christ and so I want them to engage in a small action of self denial so they can reflect more deeply on what it means to give.
I wonder what creative ways you might engage your children’s hearts and mind so they may grow to love and serve others?

Bonus Family Activity
Hands and Feet
Draw around the outlines of your children's hands and feet onto cardboard. Cut them out and write words on them that might help them to remember how they help Jesus build his kingdom. They might be words like serve, share, love, grow. Alternatively draw pictures of these things or get your hildren to draw pictures of these things. Blue tack or sticky tape them around the house so that they might be reminded throughout the week that they are workers in the kingdom of God. 

(This material is based on and draws from earlier Faithful Families emails by Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning: An Unless Ideas Production.) Unless otherwise noted all material on this blog is copyright Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Faithful Families Resources August 17 2014

You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at her parents every time around – and why her parents will always wave back.
~William D. Tammeus.

Family Closeness
...a few of my favourite things
Everyone  at the dinner table says five of their favourite things. This could be a  favourite colour, number, tv show, movies, animal, friend, toy, food, book. The following night you can test your memory and see if you can remember the 5 favourite things that all the family members told you the previous evening.

  • If you could be any animal, what animal would you be? Why?
  • What is the bravest thing you have ever done?
  • Have you ever wanted to grow up faster? Why? What is good about the age you are now? What would be good about being older?
With your family read Matthew 16.13-20
Questions for Discussion:
[In this reading Jesus asks his disciples who they think he is. This is done against the backdrop of the region of Caesarea Philippi which had numerous temples to different religions including one to Ceaser as God. In this passage we hear Jesus refer to himself as ‘Son of Man’ a phrase he often used to refer to himself.]
  • What is the first question Jesus asks?
  • Why do you think he wants to know what others think of him?
  • What is Jesus second question?
  • Why do you think he asks his disciples this?
  • How does Jesus respond when Peter gets it ‘right’?
  • Why do you think Jesus tells the disciples not to tell anyone who he is?

Prayer and Celebration
Intercessory Prayer 

A useful image used for intercessory prayer is a stretcher.  From Mark 2.3-12, some people lowered their paralytic friend through the roof into the presence of Jesus.  This is a good image of the work of intercessory prayer.  That is, don’t labour too hard with the words  to use, simply do the hard work of placing or ‘lowering’ the person into the presence of Jesus.

Place on the stretcher, someone you know who needs help.
Lower on the stretcher someone who you can love better this week.
Put onto the stretcher a place that needs peace.
Put onto the stretcher one who needs healing.
Put on the stretcher a hope of yours for your life.
Lord in your mercy, receive our prayer.

At the moment we are confronted in the news with images of people struggling in Syrian refugee camps. Considering the luxury that so many of us live in, I want to encourage you to dig deep to help those who are not in a position to help themselves. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in a situation like that. There is nothing more I can say on this except we who have need to use our abundance in whatever way we can to help. There are many charity organisation out there taking donations for this crisis so lets do what we can.

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. (Adventures for Growing Families. Wes & Sheryl Haystead.)

(This material is based on and draws from earlier Faithful Families emails by Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning: An Unless Ideas Production.) Unless otherwise noted all material on this blog is copyright Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Faithful Families Resources August 10 2014

If you haven't time to respond to a tug at your pants leg, your schedule is too crowded.  
~Robert Brault

Family Closeness
Tapping hands
Each person crosses their arms over those of the person next to them and places their hands on the table. One person starts by tapping once and others follow in order of hands in one direction. When someone else taps twice, the direction reverses. If you tap out of turn, the game starts over. How many times can you go around the table?

Would you rather… 
  • How many people from different countries do you know? When might it be difficult to be friendly to someone who is different from you?
  • What is the best thing that happened to you this week? What was the worst?
  • What unexpected thing happened to you this week?
  • What is something new you learnt today or this week? 
With your family read Mathew 15.21-28

Questions for Discussion:
[This can be a hard or confusing reading to hear. Jesus seems not only to ignore this woman from a different religion who needs his help but says some seemingly negative or antagonistic things to her. Is it possible Jesus knew how deep her faith was, that she would not be discouraged, and desired her to demonstrate this? In the end Jesus points out how great her faith is and gives her what she wants. It is interesting that so many of the religious leaders rejected Jesus but this foreign woman believes.]
  • Why do you think Jesus ignored the woman at first?
  • What was Jesus saying about why he shouldn’t help her?
  • What do you think Jesus thought the woman’s faith was so great?
  • When have you shown persistence and perseverance in your faith life? 

Prayer and Celebration
Actions for a variation of The Lords Prayer

Our Father in heaven, [finger pointing up]
You are a holy God. [open palm pointed high, head dipped reverently]
Come and rule our hearts.[open palm brought down to rest over heart]
Do what’s best on earth           [finger pointing down]
as in heaven.[rotate arm to point finger upwards]
Please keep us alive with food.[hand as bowl, other doing a scooping action to mouth]
keep us forgiven with you[closed hand warmly rotating over heart]
and forgiving with others.[same hand, finger pointing to all around in sweeping action]
Keep us holding your hand[one hand into the other hand]
and safe from all wickedness.[two hands up, elbows straight and a firm shielding action]
You’re in charge![strong action, two hands pointing up]
You can do anything you want!           [both palms open out, raised]
You are God, for ever and ever. [hands get further apart like measuring something bigger and bigger]
Amen.  [closed fist brought down on an open palm].

Anglican Board of Mission – Australia
One mission organisation in Australia that does fantastic work is ABM-A. Their vision is: ABM wants to see people everywhere experience the wholeness of life God offers in Jesus Christ, and to this end support our Partners as they participate in God's mission. Their website is worth checking out and in particular under their resources menu is a section called “watch” that has videos of some of the work they do. Some of these videos would be appropriate to show family members around the table.

Bonus Family Activity
 Camp Out Night
If you own a tent, pitch it in the backyard one night and take the family out there to sleep. Do some fun things like story telling and board games. Do all the things you would do camping out.

(This material is based on and draws from earlier Faithful Families emails by Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning: An Unless Ideas Production.) Unless otherwise noted all material on this blog is copyright Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Faithful Families Resources August 3 2014

All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the prosperity of your children. Isaiah 54.13

Family Closeness
Alphabet Scavenger Hunt
A race to see who can find an object inside  or outside the house beginning with every letter of the alphabet.

Would you rather…
(this one can be used to explore a variety of different options…would you rather…)
  • eat a cockroach or a mouse,
  • would you rather have the same meal everyday that you choose or have someone else pick
  • your meals for you.
  • would you rather be really really tall or shorter than average.
  • If you could change your name what would you change it to…use your imagination it could be anything.

With your family read Mathew 14.22-33

Questions for Discussion:
  • What was Jesus doing up on the mountainside? When do you take time to listen and pray to God?
  • When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water what did they think?
  • Why do you think Peter thought he could walk on water? What made him start sinking?
  • What did the disciples call Jesus when he hopped back in the boat?
  • What does this story tell us about Jesus? What does it tell us about Peter?

Prayer and Celebration
Weaving Prayer into Daily Life

Last week the practice of building prayer into the routines of life was discussed. Here is another idea along the same line but from a slightly different angle. As children grow there are many habits we want them to learn, that we hope might become automatic in their life, such as washing hands before meal or brushing teeth. Years and years of doing these activities hopefully ingrain the habit for life. In the teaching of these habits is an opportunity to remember God and to prayer. When washing a toddler or young childs hand before a meal take the time to say a prayer out loud. This could be a memorised prayer or it could be a line of scripture like – Psalm 51.10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Service Projects 
 Service Project for Families with Teenagers and Young Adults 
  • Coach a sports team for young children
  • Speak out about social issues in your community
  • Use more indepth skills to create items for people in need

 Bonus Family Activity
Camp Out Night
If you own a tent, pitch it in the backyard one night and take the family out there to sleep. Do some fun things like story telling and board games. Do all the things you would do camping out.
(This material is based on and draws from earlier Faithful Families emails by Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning: An Unless Ideas Production.) Unless otherwise noted all material on this blog is copyright Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning.