A national self-isolation is a new era in Kiwi history. Nobody saw this coming! Who would have believed that our religious liberty would be restricted by a virus? Now, spiritual development for your family is primarily up to you and your family. But the reality is, that is what God intended all along. Below you will find a few ideas of what you can do as a family to keep experiencing the 7 key areas for faith development.

Start slowly, consider one or two things you can do, and add form there. And remember, there aren’t any perfect families in the Bible. Most are horridly dysfunctional, but God still used them! I know God will do great things through our efforts too.

Serving and mission

Minister to those you encounter by;

  • Allow each family member to minister to the family by leading parts of worship or home church, giving encouragement and sharing where they have seen God in their life.
  • Living the love and compassion of Jesus
  • Keeping focused on the hope we have to live a God given optimism
  • Love and listen empathetically to those afraid, suffering or grieving
  • Be encouragers
  • Speak a little of the peace and confidence you have found in Christ as appropriate with gentleness and genuine affection
  • Invite your children to minister in these ways as they learn from your example

Look to serve those close to you with your children.

  • Do your neighbours need a box of cereal?
  • Do you have elderly family members or church friends who you can shop for as they are at greater risk?
  • If one of your family are afraid, comfort them.
  • If you are all getting under each other’s skin, perhaps provide some space for a family member to “get away” without disturbing them.

Homes empowered

  • Take ownership for growing a strong family – spiritually, socially, emotionally and physically.
  • Model a life of faith and trust in Jesus, and share the journey with your children to equip, encourage and teach humble submission to God.
  • Actively look to grow your children to reflect the values and character of Jesus.
  • Ensure a Godly culture in your home through worships, prayer, mission, service, and a Christ-centred lifestyle.
  • Empower your children with skills to develop and support their own relationship with God – prayer, Bible study skills, memory verses, meditation, ministering and sharing.

Authentic relationships

  • Be emotionally available. Remember, for the next month your kids can’t play with their friends! Be present as a parent and a playmate.
  • Be a role model to your children of a Godly, healthy, balanced life.
  • Discuss the “big things” in a Godly and respectful way so they develop a Godly and healthy perspective.
  • Create a culture of humility and forgiveness by acknowledging your wrongs, seeking forgiveness and making restitution.
  • Have “daddy dates” and “mummy dates” for children to build deeper relationships with parents and enjoy one-on-one time. And, it breaks the monotony of self-isolation.
  • Love your spouse, and let your children see it.

Participation

  • Church and worships are all within the family. Discuss as a family how this might look. Let your children run a segment, or all of it sometimes. Don’t just stream something or preach at your kids.
  • Make church and worship fun. Use narrative as much as you can. Let the kids act it out. Use object lessons from nature (like Jesus did!). Discuss and bringing the topics into the real world. Avoid long theological monologues. If you do stream something, keep it shorter and ask for their reflect on it afterwards
  • Involve the children in discussions about family values, rules and culture, as well as fun decisions like holiday ideas, etc.
  • Share responsibility within the family for chores so that all have an important part to play.
  • Intentionally and age appropriately involve children in the working and decisions of the family.
  • Guide and mentor your children, as you are the adult and ultimately responsible.

Intergenerational connectedness

  • Focus on enjoying time a as whole family. Don’t always have “adult conversation” and ostracise the kids.
  • Intentionally build individual relationships and have conversations between each member of the family, especially adults to children.
  • Play together to build trust and rapport
  • Eat together at a table without technology at least once a day
  • Celebrate events, faith milestones and spiritual anchors (eg. opening / closing Sabbath together, church) together as a family.
  • Have conversations about “how it was in my day” with your kids to better understand each other. Ask them to go first! You would be amazed by the world they are living it.

Noteworthy memory events

  • Actively bring God into this experience and time so they can see God’s leading and goodness through it
  • Make prayer an active part of life. Keep a prayer journal and reflect on what God does through trials.
  • Celebrate special days, and create family traditions.
  • Look at what God can do in other’s lives as you support and serve them through this time
  • Help children to interpret the “big things” in life through God’s eyes, and to see his faithfulness and goodness in them (whether enjoying a great view, having sickness in the family, etc).

God encounters

  • Take time as a family for worships and home church to encounter Jesus which incorporate sharing God’s goodness personally, Bible reading, singing, prayer, giving, reflection and nurture.
  • Create a Godly family culture that seeks to live the values of Jesus.
  • Use learning activities that are experiential, multisensory, engaging and varied in learning styles.
  • Tell awesome Bible stories and stories of faith that reach the heart and the mind.
  • Reveal how each member of the family, and the family as a whole, are part of God’s greater story of salvation and have an important part to play.
  • Help each other to grasp the wonder and mystery of Scripture, and the joy of discovering hidden treasure in Scripture through participation in family discussion and questioning and invite creative individual and family response.

How to begin using Faith Shaper in your family

Inspired –but unsure what to do next? These simple steps will help you to begin the journey with your family.

  1. Pray over the process to seek God’s wisdom and leading.
  2. Meet together as family and talk about the spiritual culture you would like in your family.
  3. Discuss your current family culture.
    1. Which of these 7 areas do you do well?
    2. Which are good but could be strengthened?
    3. Which aren’t so well developed?
    4. Which need to be added?
  4. Look for the easy ways to strengthen each area.
    1. g. Is worship more like preaching? Instead, invite sharing to grow Participation. Discuss what each of you finds meaningful (Authentic Relationships) and let each family member lead at times (Mission).
    2. g. Is one of the family great at seeing and meeting needs around you? Perhaps consider talking about it and responding as a family to have everyone involved in service, strengthen Intergenerational Connections and Participation, and grow your Relationships.
  5. Choose one area for focus on for the next week or two. Look at what small changes you could make to improve this area. Remember, if you do too much all at once you will make everyone tired. Little lasting changes are better than brief huge ones.
  6. Look at where you can get overlap areas. As seen in the examples, no action is confined to simply one area. With a little creativity you can make small changes that create bigger overlaps. Try to cover multiple areas simultaneously in as often as possible.
  7. Review Regularly. As a family, discuss weekly how it’s going, what is working and what isn’t. Remember to keep the goal clear in all of your minds so you know what you are trying to do and why.
  8. Celebrate successes.

Read more about Faith Shaper at adventist.org.nz/resources/faith-shaper