AT-HOME SPIRITUAL FORMATION FOR KIDS

During this unforeseen time of COVID-19, we desire to “bridge the gap” between traditional Sunday mornings for our kids practical ideas for families to implement. We hope these tools can help alleviate any sense of feeling overwhelmed as your child’s primary spiritual teacher without the usual supports of church. 

Below are several topics along with actives and discussion starters designed to help parents lead their kids spiritually in easy, everyday ways. Each topic will have five ways to connect with the theme. Feel free to adjust activities to your child’s interest level and allow them to guide the time you set aside. Pray and ask the Spirit how best to adapt the activities within your family.

PEACE

The five options below attempt to serve a myriad of learning styles as well as allow space for both younger and older children to connect with the topic. Feel free to adapt any of these ideas to suit the needs of your family. You can choose to engage with some or all the ideas below as they are not necessarily cumulative, rather they are intertwined. These are meant to be resources and an aid to help children continue to be engaged in ministry that is more suited for their needs, but you will be the best identifier of your family’s needs.

VERSES

 

“The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness, and assurance.”    - Isaiah 32:17

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”    - John 16:33

Looking at these two verses, ask your child what they think peace in Jesus might mean. How has Jesus provided the ultimate source of peace for us? If available, write the verses on flash cards and post them somewhere your children will see them throughout the week.

PRAYER

Spend time together with your child asking for more peace in your family, your friendships, and in our world. Model specific examples where conflict or tensions may exist and brainstorm together how bringing more peace to the situation, would make things easier. Depending on your child’s age, you can spend time explaining specific conflicts that are occurring in present-day history and praying for leaders and officials who are making decisions about these very things.

ACTIVITY

Together, with your child, name a specific conflict that exists. You could first make a list of various conflicts (sibling rivalry, sharing toys, nation-wide conflicts, racial tensions, politics, etc.) and then narrow down the list to one that is especially important to your child. Then spend time drawing two pictures—one that shows the conflict and one that demonstrates what they believe peace would look like in that instance. Hang the two pictures near each other on your fridge or wall so that children can reflect on them throughout the week.

CHALLENGE

View this YouTube video and use the bulleted questions to guide discussion afterward with your child.

  • Does viewing The Bible Project’s video entitled “Peace” change your idea about what Biblical peace might look like? 

  • Why does the Bible call us to practice humility, patience, and bearing with one another in love? How might those qualities help us create and maintain peace?

  • What changes do you think would exist in our world today if we all agreed to live out lives that sought restorative peace? 

APPLICATION

Considering the idea that peace is not simply the absence of conflict, but also centers largely around the focus of restoring wrong relationships and doings, can you think of anyone or anything you need to repent of or to? What steps are necessary to move forward in righting the relationships and actions that have previously been sinful and against peace?

PATIENCE

The five options below attempt to serve a myriad of learning styles as well as allow space for both younger and older children to connect with the topic. Feel free to adapt any of these ideas to suit the needs of your family. You can choose to engage with some or all the ideas below as they are not necessarily cumulative, rather they are intertwined. These are meant to be resources and an aid to help children continue to be engaged in ministry that is more suited for their needs, but you will be the best identifier of your family’s needs.

VERSES

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.”  - Psalms 37:7

“But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”  - Romans 8:25

Ask your child what they notice about patience in each of these two verses? Ask if they have ever felt impatient when trying to be still.  Consider repeating each verse with your child so that they can remember them—you can even use different voices (whisper, scream outside, silly, etc.).

PRAYER

Choose a time and space to pray with your child that will be less likely to be interrupted. Consider a before-bedtime or after-dinner time and look for a space free of lots of toys and distractions. After settling into your space, talk about how important patience can be when praying. If appropriate for their age, explain how when we pray, we need to be patient during the listening time because God doesn’t always immediately respond. If you have an example to share with your child of a time when you’ve prayed for something and needed to be patient, this would be a great thing to do.

ACTIVITY

Consider creating a small game at home to play with your child.  Using masking tape, create a start and finish line at least a few feet apart (even further for older kids). Show your child what the two lines represent and ask them to walk between them.  This should be easy for them to complete. Then ask them to hop between the two spaces. After that, ask them to crab walk between the start and finish lines. 

 

Finally, give them a straw and small, lightweight object (feather, cotton ball, bean, or craft pompom) and ask them to get that across the finish line. Blowing the item across the finish line should be much tougher than any of the other options. After completing it, ask your child about how much patience it took to get the item across the line and why they kept working toward their goal. Make sure to explain that patience is important in all aspects of our life, even in small challenges such as this.

CHALLENGE 

Ask your child to write down (or draw a picture) of some things they’re hoping for in the future.  You could even choose to set specific timelines such as one week, one month, six months, and one year.  It doesn’t necessarily matter what number of future timelines you choose but ask your child to set some goals and identify various hopes for the coming days.  Keep this list or picture somewhere handy, where you can reflect upon it as the timelines come to fruition.  Use each timeline as an opportunity for discussion in patience and how the Lord is blessing your child’s life throughout the stages they’re experiencing.

APPLICATION

For younger children, view this read-aloud of The Berenstain Bears: Patience, Please.  After viewing the story, ask your child the following questions.

  • Why did Brother and Sister Bear struggle to understand why their crops weren’t growing quickly?

  • Can you think of a time when you weren’t very patient, and things seemed to take a really long time?  What could you change next time to try to be more patient?

 

For older children, listen and/or view to the following music video entitled “Promises” by Maverick City.  After listening to the song, ask your child the following questions.

  • How is God’s faithfulness related to our need for patience?

  • Where would you like to pray for patience to be more prevalent in your own life?

INTEGRITY

The five options below attempt to serve a myriad of learning styles as well as allow space for both younger and older children to connect with the topic. Feel free to adapt any of these ideas to suit the needs of your family. You can choose to engage with some or all the ideas below as they are not necessarily cumulative, rather they are intertwined. These are meant to be resources and an aid to help children continue to be engaged in ministry that is more suited for their needs, but you will be the best identifier of your family’s needs.

VERSES

“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found.”  - Proverbs 10:9

“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”  - Proverbs 11:3

“Better the poor whose walk is blameless than the rich whose ways are perverse.”  - Proverbs 28:6

 

What themes can you observe in the three verses from Proverbs? What can you learn about integrity by reading (and re-reading) these verses? Ask your child if they can repeat a verse of their choosing from those listed above. The translations of the verses in NLT may be simpler for younger children.

PRAYER

Spend time praying as a family for understanding of integrity and how you can continue to grow in this area of your life. Pray for opportunities to exercise integrity, especially during unexpected situations.

ACTIVITY

Ask your child to draw a picture about what they believe would go into a recipe for integrity. If they’d rather make a list of “ingredients” instead of drawing, encourage them to use that medium instead.

CHALLENGE

Using a dictionary (or online dictionary), help you child look up the definition of integrity. Compare and contrast the definition given to what the Bible says. Consider making a chart or graph that shows the differences and similarities. Discuss with your child why he/she thinks the dictionary and Bible may approach integrity in the same or different way.

APPLICATION

Spend time as a family complimenting one another. Set aside a time (maybe around the dinner table or during a car drive) in which you each takes turns complimenting someone. Remind your children how important it is to build up one another. An important part of living a life filled with integrity is highlighting wise, honest choices. This is a great exercise for them to identify ways that their siblings and parents are showcasing integrity-driven lives.

MISSIONS

The five options below attempt to serve a myriad of learning styles as well as allow space for both younger and older children to connect with the topic. Feel free to adapt any of these ideas to suit the needs of your family. You can choose to engage with some or all the ideas below as they are not necessarily cumulative, rather they are intertwined. These are meant to be resources and an aid to help children continue to be engaged in ministry that is more suited for their needs, but you will be the best identifier of your family’s needs.

VERSE

         “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”  Mark 16:15

After reading this verse, ask your child to close their eyes as you read it 2-3 more times. Repetition, especially of a short verse like this, may help them memorize it more quickly. Spend a few minutes discussing why Jesus would have directed His disciples to “go into all the world’. Ask your child what they think “preaching the gospel” means in this context. Remember to encourage your child to use scripture to support their thinking.

PRAYER

Begin praying with your child to create a passion (or continue to ignite a passion) for spreading and teaching the gospel. Name people or groups of people in your prayers for which you desire courage and opportunity to share the good news. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance, time, and power to answer the opportunity to speak boldly.

ACTIVITY

Alongside your child, create a list or draw a picture to represent who you would like to share the gospel with. Focus on individuals or groups in your life who you have regular interaction with, and list opportunities that may arise. Are these family members or friends who you see at holidays or for special occasions? Can you identify a time when it would be appropriate to share the gospel (ex. not during school instruction or at work while on the clock)? Post this list or drawing somewhere prominent (a mirror, a cabinet, or in a special book) to remind yourself to be intentional about spending time with those people.

CHALLENGE

Log on to the Common Ground West website and review our missions partners’ pages. After discussing the varying partners Common Ground West supports, ask your child if they would like to call or write to ask how to best pray with or for their ministry. We want to love our missions partners as they share the good news of Jesus in their respective spaces.

APPLICATION

Ask your child to spend some time thinking through how they learned about the gospel. Who told them and what did they say?  Was this a short conversation or did it happen over a long period of time? Ask what things were helpful or unhelpful in learning about the gospel and the life of Jesus. Encourage your child to think through these times so that they can use the opportunities to further conversations with those they love and want to share the good news with.

WISDOM

The five options below attempt to serve a myriad of learning styles as well as allow space for both younger and older children to connect with the topic. Feel free to adapt any of these ideas to suit the needs of your family. You can choose to engage with some or all the ideas below as they are not necessarily cumulative, rather they are intertwined. These are meant to be resources and an aid to help children continue to be engaged in ministry that is more suited for their needs, but you will be the best identifier of your family’s needs.

VERSE

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”  - James 3:13-17

Read this verse a few times with your child.  Ask about the contrast between the first type of “wisdom” and the latter part of the verse. Consider using the following questions to guide your discussion. What do you notice that is different among the two types of wisdom described? What type of wisdom should we pursue? Where should our wisdom come from?

 

PRAYER

Spend time together, as a family, asking for wisdom. Encourage your child to think about times in which they are particularly in need of wisdom. Name those times—school, clubs/activities/sports, friendships, making good choices, responding to difficult situations, etc. After naming them together, pray through them altogether or pick a few to start. Seek the Holy Spirit in your prayer asking for His presence to grant the wisdom your child so desperately needs.

ACTIVITY

Watch this Bible Project video entitled “The Book of Job”.  Use the following questions to guide your discussion about wisdom.

  • How is Job described in the Bible?

  • What would it look like in your own life if you lost everyone and everything? How would you respond to God?

  • How can we see Job’s wisdom despite his terrible circumstances?

  • Where and how do we see God’s wisdom in Job’s story?

CHALLENGE

Ask your child who they view as wise. It could be a family member, teacher, coach, someone from church, a friend, or even a celebrity they’ve never met in person. Ask them to write a letter to that person explaining why they view them as wise and what examples they may have witnessed showing wisdom. They can decide whether to give the letter to the individual.

APPLICATION

Use this week for your child to have some personal reflection about when they have made wise choices. Provide them an opportunity to journal about wisdom. Encourage them to consider how and when they may have made great choices or even when they’ve made not so great decisions. Journaling about both positive and negative choices is important for your child to continue their journey in seeking wisdom from the Holy Spirit. If your child cannot write yet or does not enjoy journaling, ask if they’d like to sing a song (one in which they create) or draw a picture about wisdom.

COMPASSION

The five options below attempt to serve a myriad of learning styles as well as allow space for both younger and older children to connect with the topic. Feel free to adapt any of these ideas to suit the needs of your family. You can choose to engage with some or all the ideas below as they are not necessarily cumulative, rather they are intertwined. These are meant to be resources and an aid to help children continue to be engaged in ministry that is more suited for their needs, but you will be the best identifier of your family’s needs.

VERSE

“The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.”  - Psalms 116:5

“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”  - 1 Peter 3:8

Read these two passages with your children using a translation of your choice. Discuss the first verse telling about The Lord’s compassion and the second verse showing how we, as followers of Christ, are called to be compassionate. Ask your child if there is a connection between Christ’s compassion and how we demonstrate compassion as individuals. Are there any similarities or differences in the compassion discussed?

CRAFT

Create a paper chain as a family. Ask your children who they can show compassion to and write down each person or group on a different link. Hang your paper chain around the house as a reminder to your children. You can also continue adding links to your paper chain as they think of new people and groups.

PRAYER

In your family prayer time, ask your child when they sense they need to offer compassion most. Ask whom they may even struggle to offer compassion to or when it might be more difficult to offer compassion to groups of peoples. Spend time together praying through those situations and for wisdom to recognize those times. Encourage your child to pray whenever possible at the exact moment that may seem difficult to pray.

This would also be an appropriate time to share with your child when you have not shown compassion to a person or group.  Discuss the instance and demonstrate how to pray for forgiveness and make a plan moving forward how to change that behavior and respond with greater compassion.

CHALLENGE

Write a letter or note of encouragement for someone your child identifies as compassionate. If they think of more than one person, ask if they’d like to write multiple letters/notes. Younger children may even want to make a collage of stickers or color a picture printed from the computer. Let them guide how they would like to show compassion.

APPLICATION

In a safe, socially distant way consider demonstrating compassion to others by performing an act of kindness or service with them. You could buy someone’s coffee or meal, leave an anonymous note of encouragement in a public space, offer to pray for someone, volunteer for a task that is less than desirable, or spend time doing something that you normally wouldn’t choose to participate in. Make sure to take time talking to your child about your attitude and desire to demonstrate compassion to others. Motivation is important, so don’t simply “check the box,” but really engage with the activity by loving others well.
 

JUSTICE

The five options below attempt to serve a myriad of learning styles as well as allow space for both younger and older children to connect with the topic. Feel free to adapt any of these ideas to suit the needs of your family. You can choose to engage with some or all the ideas below as they are not necessarily cumulative, rather they are intertwined. These are meant to be resources and an aid to help children continue to be engaged in ministry that is more suited for their needs, but you will be the best identifier of your family’s needs.

VERSE

“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”  - Isaiah 1:17

 

“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  - Micah 6:8

Read these two passages with your children using a translation of your choice. Discuss the verbs (action or “doing” words) in the passages and ask what those mean to your child. If appropriate, encourage your child to memorize some, or even all of these passages in a translation that is most helpful for them. 

ACTIVITY

Watch this video by The Bible Project entitled “Justice.” Use the following questions to guide your discussion.

  1. Why do humans care so much about justice?

  2. Who do we identify as vulnerable in today’s society?

  3. What does restorative justice look like in your family or community?

  4. Can you think of any ways that you may have benefited from others who were oppressed, even if you did not participate in the oppressing?

  5. What does The Lord require of you and what specific next steps do you feel called to take to help those being oppressed?

PRAYER

Ask your child to consider who in their life may be marginalized or even not considered as likable by others. Spend time praying for that person and consider making a notecard reminder to pray for those peoples or groups throughout the week.

CHALLENGE

Consider taking a family walk or trip to a local park in an area that you’re less familiar with than your own neighborhood. Afterward, ask your children if they noticed anything different about the park, area, or people you saw. If we are not exposed to unfamiliar areas, people groups, and socioeconomic differences, we can begin to believe they do not exist or are only prevalent in third-world countries. Also, a lack of real exposure can lead us to more readily buying into stereotypes and creating divisiveness that prevent us from seeing the value that God places on each of us, created in His own image.

APPLICATION

As a family, make a commitment to do something outside of your norm one time per month. A few ideas could include getting groceries from a store that is locally-owned instead of a conglomerate, reading a book written or illustrated by a person of color, eating cuisine from a different culture, watching a show or film produced by a non-white individual, or learning a few words outside of your native language. The point behind doing something outside of the norm is to expose your child to other people and make them more comfortable to ask questions. The hope is to make children comfortable in these environments so they can become allies with those who may not be treated justly in all situations, and pursue God’s justice in all their relationships and surroundings.

After completing something different from your typical family rhythms, discuss what you enjoyed most about the new experience.  Ask your children to actively participate in the planning and execution of choosing a new experience.  Let them own the time and be personally invested so that there is a greater level of excitement, attention, and willingness to participate!

 

PRAYER

The five options below attempt to serve a myriad of learning styles as well as allow space for both younger and older children to connect with the topic. Feel free to adapt any of these ideas to suit the needs of your family. You can choose to engage with some or all the ideas below as they are not necessarily cumulative, rather they are intertwined. These are meant to be resources and an aid to help children continue to be engaged in ministry that is more suited for their needs, but you will be the best identifier of your family’s needs.

VERSE

 

“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick?  Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  - James 5:13-16

Read this passage with your children using a variety of translations. Ask children to listen for words that are repeated. Discuss how different translations can help us understand the same text. If appropriate, encourage your child to memorize some, or even all this passage in a translation that is most helpful for them. 

ACTIVITY

Create a Prayer Jar with your children.  Using a jar, cup, or bucket ask your child to create some artwork to label their container. After they are happy with how the jar looks, begin discussing what or who they often want to pray about. For each item, ask your child to write that down on a piece of paper, tongue depressor, or popsicle stick. Place those prayer requests in the jar and return to them frequently. Putting your Prayer Jar somewhere prominent (in the kitchen, on the dining room table, or near the family TV) can help spur prayer naturally. Let your child pray independently or with you as often as they’d like. Also encourage them to continue adding new prayer requests as they arise or are thought of, as we can continue praying without ceasing.      

PRAYER

Pray together with your children using the “5 Finger Method” by Kathryn Shirey. An explanation is listed below.

  • Your thumb is closest to your heart, so pray for those closest to you (likely family and friends).

  • The pointer finger is used to give directions. Pray for teachers, coaches, therapists, doctors, firefighters, and first responders. 

  • The middle finger is the tallest. Pray for leaders in government, businesses, and the church.

  • The ring finger is the weakest. Pray for the sick, poor, and those most in need.

  • The pinkie finger is the smallest. Pray for yourself and your own needs.

ACTION

Ask your child who they may be thinking about and how you could pray for that person. If available, ask them to call or write to that friend or family member and ask how they can best pray for them. If they are comfortable, even encourage them to write their prayer and send it to the person or pray aloud for them on a phone or video call.

APPLICATION

Ask your child to think about when they think prayer could be helpful in their lives. Encourage them to name specific times or places that the inclusion of prayer can be life changing. Children may discuss times when they are worried, hurt, sad, embarrassed, or otherwise experiencing uncomfortable emotions. Use this time to affirm the power of prayer and offer to pray at this moment, but also when those times come, too. Emphasize the power of prayer and the significance of communal prayer so that your child can feel comfortable asking you (or others) for prayer during those times of need.
 

THANKFULNESS

The five options below attempt to serve a myriad of learning styles as well as allow space for both younger and older children to connect with the topic. Feel free to adapt any of these ideas to suit the needs of your family. You can choose to engage with some or all the ideas below as they are not necessarily cumulative, rather they are intertwined. These are meant to be resources and an aid to help children continue to be engaged in ministry that is more suited for their needs, but you will be the best identifier of your family’s needs.

VERSE

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” - Colossians 3:15-17

Read this passage with your children. Talk about a few of the descriptive words and why they are mentioned—ask what words stood out to them. If appropriate, encourage your child to memorize some, or even all this passage. 

ACTIVITY

Find a rounded object (ball, balloon, rolled up pair of socks, etc.) that is safe to toss lightly in your home. Spread out and take turns tossing the object around. Each time the person receives the item, they should name something they are thankful for and then toss to another person. Continue this pattern for as long as your children are interested.

PRAYER

Spend some time today asking your children who or what they are thankful for. You can even remind them of ideas they used during the ball toss activity. Ensure you are fully engaged with them during this time, even when something may seem small. It is important that children thank God for anything they deem worthy because it sets a precedent to come to God for anything at any time. After they name something they are thankful for, turn together in prayer and acknowledge that. By showing children that prayer can be conversational and reflective, children begin to understand the frequency and naturalness that should accompany prayer. The goal is to engage children in the idea of praying all the time.

ACTION

Spend some time with your child and discuss an instance (recent or from the past) that you have not been thankful. Try to express to them some of your feelings, emotions, or words about a situation. Although this may seem difficult and we don’t typically enjoy being “wrong,” it’s vital for our kids to see that we need grace, too. After you have described the instance, explain to your children how you should have responded with gratitude. Perhaps even spend some time together brainstorming ideas about what a better response could have been. After you have expressed those ideas, ask if they have any examples of when they have not been grateful in a situation. Don’t press any agenda, especially if they don’t immediately come up with an idea (even if you can recall one), but instead end your time with a prayer to God for an open heart to be taught and open ears and eyes for Godly correction. Come back to this idea at a later point and see if anything has changed or if the Spirit has revealed something new to them.

REFLECTION

Encourage your children to write or draw about what they are thankful for. If they select an individual, ask if they’d like to give their writing/drawing to that person. If they choose a toy or an object, ask what they find interesting or unique about this item. Encourage them to be specific and truly name the reasons behind their thankfulness. By being less generic, children may be able to recognize how God is at work in other areas of their life and see His goodness in new and exciting ways.