Thursday, July 2, 2015

7 "Churchly" Things to Do with Your Kids

If you're too sick to make it to church on Sunday morning, odds are you won't feel like doing much that day. These activities don't have to be done on Sunday morning, or even on Sunday afternoon, or on a Sunday at all for that matter. You can do them with your kids anytime and anywhere, whether you missed church or not. These activities are fun, and some of them are good practice for kids who are learning to sit through that hour-loooooong service (that is, any kid under the age of 14, give or take a few years). Don't take the activities too seriously. Put your own family spin on them.

1. Home Church

       -- 1 Hymn (play CD or YouTube Video or the piano if you're gifted)
       -- 1 Hymnal or printed liturgy from the internet

Directions: Easy: have church at home. Not for a whole hour! Goodness, no. Think of it like a mini-liturgy. Josie and I practice church almost every day, and it helps her sit through the longer church services a great deal. You are both the leader and the congregation, depending on how old your kiddos are. Read the opening of whatever liturgy you choose, then read a portion of Scripture, sing a hymn and say a prayer or two, and finally say the closing. Josie and I use My First Hymnal, which comes with 3 CDs full of hymns, but there's no reason why you can't just use your church's hymnal, or print out or follow a liturgy online: Lutheran Service Book Online.
2. Worship for Shut-Ins (In the age of "political correctness"? Yeah. I don't want to be called a "shut-in" either, but oh well. I've been called worse).

       -- Computer with an internet connection
       -- Speakers
       -- This link:

Directions: Click on the link and hit the "play" button. VoilĂ : instant church.

3. Notes to Heaven (This is mostly for younger children).

       -- 1 helium balloon per child
       -- wrapping ribbon, string or yarn
       -- paper
       -- markers, crayons, pens or pencils

Directions: Ask your children to write a note, prayer or question, or draw a picture, for Jesus on a small piece of paper. Tie the finished product to the end of a helium balloon's string and let them go outside. Watch as the breeze carries them to heaven. Remember to tell your children that God doesn't answer our prayers and questions in the same way we ask them. We have to listen to our pastor and the Bible with our ears to hear an answer from God.

4. Pictures for Pastor

       -- Paper
       -- Crayons, Markers, Pencils, Paint, Cotton Balls, Glue, Glitter...

Directions: Ask your kids to draw a picture for your family's pastor, maybe of something he taught them, a thank-you note, a portrait of him (my husband's favorite), or whatever they feel like drawing. I'm suggesting this one because I know how much my husband adores getting pictures and crafts from his littlest parishioners. Our very first Christmas in our very first church, he received a small homemade ornament as a gift from one of his preschool parishioners, and every Christmas to this day it goes on our tree. Don't underestimate what it means to your pastor to know he's appreciated and how important it is to teach your kids that the pastor is their pastor, too.

5. Hymn Sing

      -- 1 of the following:
          -- Online Hymnal or an old-fashioned hymnal in book-form
          -- a CD or another collection of audio hymns, such as an Itunes or YouTube playlist
          -- Hymnal Phone App

Directions: Just sing! Ask the kiddos to pick songs and join in. Even if they can't talk yet, they can point! Kids always love to hear mom sing, no matter what she sounds like and no matter how little they are (you can read an article about it at Psychology Today). Remind your kiddos that songs sung for God, or hymns, are prayers, too. In fact, the Psalms was meant to be sung! Even the angels sing, and we will all sing together in heaven someday.

6. "Rememberies" (This one is good for adults, too).

Great-Grandma Jo (Josephine, 91yrs.)
Josie (Josephina, 9mos.)
       -- Small boxes (shoe boxes or something similar)
       -- Colored paper or scraps of material and ribbon
       -- Tape, regular glue, glue sticks, or hot glue
           **(with supervision!)
       -- Crayons, markers, pencils, paint, cotton balls,
           glue, stickers, buttons, glitter...
       -- Pictures, mementos of deceased, elderly or ill
           loved ones

Directions: This is something similar to what OB nurses would do for mothers who lost who lost their brand new baby in a hospital where I worked as a deaconess, but this is for all our loved ones who are in heaven or who may not be with us long enough for our kids to remember. Have your kiddos decorate one box for each of your loved ones you'd like your kiddos to either know better or remember once they're in heaven. Gather up and go through pictures and mementos of those loved ones, talk about them, share your memories of them, and put them in the decorated boxes. Let your kids write notes and draw pictures to add to the boxes if they like.

It's a great opportunity to talk to your children about death. Let them know it's perfectly alright to be happy that the people they love are with Jesus and to be sad that they're not with us at the same time (Read John 11:28-44). Reassure them that there is nothing but joy and happiness in heaven (Read Revelation 21:1-4).

7. Card Collages

       -- Old greeting cards
       -- Scissors and/or razor blades
           **(with supervision!)
       -- Regular glue or glue sticks
       -- Paper, cardstock, or cardboard

Directions: We never have very many old magazines floating around our house, but we get literally hundreds of cards every year. It doesn't take nearly that many for this activity. It's simple: just take all the old cards you've received for Birthdays, Thank You's, Invitations, Sympathy, Christmas, Easter, Get Well, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day and so on, and cut the decorative front flaps off them. Let your kids cut those up and use them to make beautiful collages, decorations, or new cards of their own. Recycling never looked so pretty! (It works particularly well to make Christmas Tree Ornaments and Advent Calendars from old Christmas Cards).

**Share a photo of you doing one or more of these activities with your children by emailing them to me at