Monday, November 27, 2017

Resources for Advent Sunday, 3 December 2017

God never made a promise that was too good to be true.
Dwight L. Moody

This week we enter the season of Advent, a time that is focused on waiting with anticipation. We wait with anticipation for the return of Christ, and we relive in our own lives the expectation of the birth of Christ and his birth in our own heart every day. We wait with anticipation for the kingdom of God to be fulfilled on Earth. Over the next four weeks, the material will be shaped around four themes that are relevant to this time: promise, waiting, journey and gift.

In addition to the weekly resources, have a look at the special Advent page for some ideas and resources on how to celebrate the season well in your home.

Family Closeness
This simplified version of Pay-Off can be played with any number of family members. Everyone needs a red token or piece of paper and a black token or piece of paper. Family members will get points depending on what token they and others show. At the start you decide on how many rounds you will play. It should probably be at least five. Each person decides which token they will show but does not let other family members know. On the count of three, everyone will place their token on the table at the same time. Points are awarded in the following way:
  • If everyone puts down red – everyone loses two points.
  • If some family members put down red and some put down black – those who put down black get 2 points, those who put down red lose 2 points.
  • If everyone puts down black – everyone gets 2 points.
Have a discussion after every three rounds about what you put down or to make promises about what you will put down next go. This could be a good source of family discussion about promises and keeping them.

  • What are the biggest promises people make in their life?
  • Why are some promises hard to keep?
  • How do you feel if someone doesn’t keep their promise?
  • What do you think God has promised us?
With your family read: Mark 13.24-37
Questions for Discussion:
  • What do you think this reading is about?
  • What does it mean to be ready?
  • How can we always be ready to meet Jesus?

Prayer and Celebration
This week take a look at the special Advent page to get some great ideas for celebrating this season. Most of the ideas will require some preparation.

The Advent Conspiracy website provides a great way to think about Advent with the charge to: Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All. It encourages us to think about how we might reshape the time that leads to Christmas in a life giving and counter-cultural way.

Bonus Family Activity
Begin thinking about how you might do something really special together as a family for Christmas. How might you really spend quality time together, how might you truly give of yourselves to one another. Throughout this blog, there are hundreds of ideas for spending time with your family. Find something special and enjoy the time.

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.