Ways to Encourage Faith Formation When Families Are on Vacation
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise" (Deuteronomy 6:5-7).
Does it feel like everyone in your congregation takes a vacation from Sunday school when summer rolls around? Your congregation may not even have Sunday school during the summer months. And for congregations that do, attendance becomes even more erratic as families take vacation, go to family reunions, or simply take a break.
However, the Scripture from Deuteronomy reminds us that our task of faith formation is not even just a weekly task, but a daily task. We can provide helps to our families so that parents can be involved with their children in faith formation even if they are not at Sunday school week by week during the summer.
In setting up options for families during the summer it would be good to remind the congregation that:
- Parents play the primary role in passing on the faith to their children.
- The church has a responsibility, per the promises in the baptism liturgy, to provide opportunities and resources to nurture and support the baptized in growing in love of God and neighbor.
- When parents and children talk with one another about faith and become involved in experiences out of faith beliefs both children and adults are strengthened and grow in faith.
Here are examples of ways to continue faith formation in the summer:
- Encourage families to attend other congregations when they travel. Ask them to bring back a worship bulletin from the church they attended. On the front of the bulletin ask them to complete these sentences, "We saw……." "We heard….." "We thank God for….."
- Prepare vacation boxes for families. Include in these boxes items from your children’s Sunday school material; crayons and paper for drawing pictures to be included on a bulletin board for sharing experiences of the families.
- Get two or three stuffed animals. Attach to each a journal. Ask families to take one of the "travel animals" with them on their trip. Along the way, ask them to record in the journal where they were and what blessings they experienced in that place.
Invite families to pick a service project that parents and children can do together during the summer months. Suggestions could include such things such as providing food for a food pantry or taking toys to a homeless shelter for families. Giving up a snack and day and sending the money to a service project would also be good. Ask families to name the blessings they receive through the service project and the blessings they are giving.
MaryJane Pierce Norton is the former Associate General Secretary for Discipleship Ministries at the Discipleship Ministries. (Updated 4/2018)
For Further Reading:
Passing It On: How to Nurture Your Children’s Faith Season by Season by Kara Lassen Oliver (Upper Room Books, 2015)
Scrambled Starts: Family Prayers for Morning, Bedtime, and Everything In Between by Jenny Youngman (Upper Room Books, 2015)