Family faith formation practices, part 2

25 March 2024

Yipes! I truly cannot believe that it has been just over a year since I wrote the first installment of this series. At least I noted in that first post that this series would “stretch for many years into the future” and that it would be “occasional.” Can’t say I didn’t warn you :)

I’ll repeat my caveats from part one: there will likely be no groundbreaking ideas here. But if you’re anything like me, you need the regular and very simple reminder that family discipleship does not always have to be complicated. More than perhaps any other area of my life, I have the instinct here to build the big machine, to devise the elaborate practice – and still, more often than not, to worry that I’m not doing enough.

This is not all bad: I believe there is a direct relationship between how much creating a fertile environment for our children to know and trust Jesus matters to me (and John) and how much thought we put into how we are doing that. But I hope through this series I can encourage you (if it’s something that matters to you) AND MYSELF that little by little adds up.

Here are three more (very simple) family faith formation practices that we’ve been practicing with our 8-year-old, 5-year-old, and 2-year-old.

We say “great question!” a lot.

Basically any time any of my children ask me anything about faith, the first thing out of my mouth is “great question!” More than any individual answer I can give, I want them to know that their questions are valued, desired, and honored, and that I’m grateful and delighted they’d bring their questions to me.

“Great question!” also buys me a beat. Instead of rushing into an answer, it’s a pause that reminds me to slow down, calm down, and get curious. It leads naturally into follow-up questions, like “What made you ask that?” or “Can you tell me more about what you want to know?” This entry into the conversation helps me meet them where they are and figure out what kind of answer might serve them best.

Worth noting: I didn’t always feel this way! Questions used to make me nervous! But as I’ve grown more knowledgeable myself over the last few years, I’ve gotten more confident – both because I do know a bit more, but also because I know that I’ll never know it all. That’s okay. No one knows it all this side of heaven, but I now know where to go so we can try and figure things out together.

We read the Jesus Storybook Bible.

John and I were marveling the other day about how the idea of the Bible being one unified, overarching story with Jesus at the center is common these days – and yet was simply not a part of our upbringing. There are so many resources now to help connect the dots (The Bible Project, for one!), but I think the Jesus Storybook Bible, with over three million copies sold, deserves a ton of credit, too. Sally Lloyd Jones is raising up a generation of kids who understand that Jesus is at the center of both the Old and New Testament in a way that I never did.

And our kids love it! Our go-to reading time is while they’re splashing in the tub – we leave a copy on the half wall in our bathroom. At 8, June is beginning to add in other resources, but she still enjoys it – she and John have recently been going through the stories one-by-one together and talking about them in a deeper way.

Sally’s writing hits such a sweet spot – winsome and accessible for kids, but delightful for parents to read, too. Highly recommend.

We faithfully go to community group.

Community groups are a staple at many churches, and they are at our church, too. Our group, which is made up of young families (June is actually the oldest kid!) and some singles, is very precious to us.

It hasn’t always been that way. We’ve been a part of community groups that we lightly dreaded going to – that felt like an obligation – but our current group is truly a highlight of our week. Whether we’re meeting with the full group for dinner and Bible study or splitting off into guys and gals, it’s a chance to gather with people who care about us, our kids, our marriage, and our faith lives. It’s a place where we’re known, loved, and spurred on to grow. In a time in our country of great loneliness, isolation, and individualism, it’s a balm.

Our kids reap the benefits, too. They’re forming relationships with the other kids, yes, but also with adults who know and care about them. That’s important now, and it will be invaluable as they grow.

So there you have it! Three (relatively) simple faith formation practices our family has found helpful. I hope there’s something you can take away, whether fostering your kids’ faith also matters to you or if there’s something else you hope to grow in your kids (or the kids you love). If you’d like to share, I’d love to hear a practice that has been helpful in your family, or something that has stuck with you from your own upbringing!

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March 25, 2024 9:54 am

The practice of responding to every question with “Great question!” can apply to a variety of settings (work, family, post office, etc)! haha I love the energy of it, as I didn’t grow up with that type of response. It’s easy to get defensive and make every question/complaint or challenge about us personally, rather than getting curious. I also believe encouraging questions is a great way to teach your kids to invest in learning about whatever faith you’re trying to nurture in them. My parents were probably a little more old school, but not their fault haha Their parents were old school and their parents before them. So we grew up going to church together and just doing it and going because it was what we did. It was what our families always did. And we also weren’t encouraged to question it or question anything really, about our faith. So now, as you can imagine, I’m an adult with a lot of unanswered questions and feel no desire or need to find the answers to them in my faith. And I’m OK with that, however I wonder if I would have felt more tethered I’d felt safe to ask those questions when I was younger.

March 27, 2024 6:45 pm

I love that you’re writing about this! We love the Jesus Storybook bible, too. :) We’ve also started reading a kids devotional called Indescribable by Louie Giglio that relates the bible with science facts. It’s very engaging and fun!

April 1, 2024 3:36 am

These are such beautiful, impactful yet simple ways to enoucrage faith through the family. Thank you for sharing, Em x