New Year, New Start
I’ve always thought New Year is not really a thing. Nothing actually happens at the point at which we count down and wish each other Happy New Year! However, it’s good to have moments in time when we take stock, look back and plan forward.
Whether you’re brand new to the idea of doing faith at home, or you’re looking for a way to Re-Boot, New Year is a good time to think about what we already are doing, what’s going well, and what we might like to try in the coming months.
1 You’re already doing great things!
Yep, you are! I find people looking to Do More faith at home often immediately think about family devotional times together or reading the Bible for hours together on a Saturday morning. While these things are fab, not many families actually do this, as every family has it’s own unique way of doing faith at home. We should have no guilt about finding our own path, prioritising the things which matter to us and making things work for our family. Reading the Bible is good and one of my favourite things, but it shouldn’t be the ‘be all and end all’. There’s so much more to growing in our faith, and most of us are already doing lots of faith-enhancing things without even knowing it.
If you saw my series last year in Youth and Childrenswork Magazine on the Francis Bridger model of faith, you’ll know it describes faith in four way: Faith as believing, Faith as trusting, Faith as imagining and Faith as doing. Each of these develops more at different times in our lives, and many of the ordinary things we do as parents help contribute to their development. For example, do you give your children food to eat every day? Do you help keep them clean and clothed? Just by being a dependable provider in their lives, you are helping them develop the ability to trust, which will help them to trust God.
2 Much of faith at home is about relationship
This means that eating pizza together, celebrating birthdays, going ice skating together or listening to them chatting about their favourite TV programme are all ways to build connection and therefore make a place where faith can grow. Care for the Family research in 2017 found that strong, loving family relationships were vital when sharing faith at home. It could be possible to be so fierce about getting together to DO a faith activity that we could actually start to erode the relationships in our family! However, by admitting when we were wrong, saying sorry when we hurt each other and building in time to connect and have fun together, we can build those relationships. You might feel this is a good place to start, especially if you have part of your family who are not Christians, as they shouldn’t feel at all threatened by it.
What could you do to build stronger relationships in your family? Spending time 1 to 1? Having a Friday pizza and movie night? Only you know what will be best.
3 Fuel your own faith
It’s hard to pass on or grow with others if you’re not doing it yourself. It’s like being part of a book group without reading the book. Possible, but hard work and lacking in integrity! Likely to be found out! This might seem like an odd way to address the faith of your family, but I find the more connected I am with God, the better I am at helping others to connect.
What could you do to help your faith grow? Is there something you used to do which you’d like to start doing? A new way of doing something, perhaps? Where do you feel weak? Bible knowledge, prayer, social action, compassion? How could you give yourself a boost that area? What do you enjoy? I love drawing and painting, so I’ve got a journal Bible so I can paint in it! Ask friends with similar interests what they might do to connect with God using their hobbies. Who or what could you enlist to help you? Is there a group at church or online you could link up with for ideas or encouragement?
4 Let your family see your faith at home
In her book, Parenting Children for a Life of Faith, Rachel Turner calls this building windows. We need at least sometimes make our faith activities visible to our family. I’ve often found it’s when I’m enjoying a story in the Bible or when I’m working on a project to help other people that my children want to join in. This means that I need to read the Bible, at least some of the time, when they’re around. I sometimes use an audio Bible – there’s some on the You Version app – which means that everyone gets to hear it! I sometimes do my painting when they’re around, which often means they want some paints to do their own one. I’ve even let them do drawings in my journal Bible!! My husband has involved our children from a very young age in our online giving, praying out loud instead of silently, and getting them to press the send button.
What faith activities could you make windows into? What could you do a little differently so that it’s more visible to your family? And remember to sometimes invite them to join you or to say yes when they ask to!
5 Trust God to be at work
This is so important! Helping our faith at home to grow could become yet another task on our list, another thing to feel guilty about not doing enough or even proud about how great we are doing.
But here’s the thing – we’re not trying to create faith, but grow it. This is very different! Think how a plant grows – we plant the seed and water it, but it’s what’s already in the seed which responds to the soil and the water and the warmth. God is already at work in the hearts of our family. Our children are spiritual beings with a capacity to connect with God.
Psalm 127:1 says: “Unless God builds the house, the builders build in vain. Unless God guards the city, the watch men watch in vain.” (The Message version)
So let’s chose to trust God. Let’s chat with Him about our family, and watch and listen and see what He is doing. Sometimes this is the best thing we can do, and it’s more than enough.
6 Connect with others
It might that you will find it helpful to connect with other parents also wanting to grow faith at home. You could chat to others at your church or join (or start) a Parenting for faith course available for free online from BRF. If you’re on Facebook, you could like the following pages to get encouragement and family at home ideas: GodVenture, The Kitchen Table Project, and BRF – Parenting for Faith. Rachel Turner does an excellent podcast discussing lots of things about faith at home called ‘Parenting for faith’.
I pray that we’ll all be able to choose one of these ideas to apply to our own unique family – find what is right for us and our family in our current season.