Sunday Takeaways: Family Style

Monday is upon us again! Crazy how it always just sneaks back around again.

Mondays aren't always our favorite, but they do mean one thing that we love here at For Glory & Beauty: SUNDAY TAKEAWAYS!

This is a blog tradition that we started a little bit ago and that we really hope sticks around. We hope you love it too! We sort of see it like this; most of us are going to church every Sunday and then diving right back into our weeks when Monday throws itself on us. Let's be real...we're not always the best at carrying Sunday with us. We sure want to get better at this and we figured we'd bring you along! Not only does this make us intentional about taking in wisdom from our Sunday services, it also gives us a platform to process and share and encourage each other moving into our weeks. This way we don't only get cool things from our own church, we also glean from each other as well! We felt really passionate about making space for all of that!

This week we wanted to chat a bit about how to make Sunday Takeaways for the whole family! Having worked quite a bit in kids ministry in our day (both of us) we understand that applying spiritual and Biblical ideas and lessons for kids can sometimes feel scary and overwhelming. Often times parents are afraid to "go there" with their kids because they are afraid that their kids will have questions they can't answer--maybe afraid they'll have to tell their kids that they don't know. There is also fear in not knowing how to get big ideas on kids levels and maybe even fear that they will have to live up to the things that they are presenting to their kids and there is just way too much pressure and accountability that comes with that.

We're here to help you overcome any or all of those fears and little voices in your head that are staying in the way of experiencing your faith as a family. Let's break it down by the fears and give you some truth and some simple and practical ways to tackle them!

What if I don't know the answers to the questions my kids ask? Is it okay for me to tell them that I don't know?

Yes, yes and yes---a resounding YES! We actually think that it's so important to make space for kids to ask questions--even tough ones that you might not know the answers to--especially about their faith! We want kids to know Jesus and we want them to know Him well. We want them to have a firm faith foundation and that means encouraging them to explore and dive deep and really learn on a heart level what we are asking them to believe. Questions--often time really hard questions--are a super essential part of building that faith foundation. As grown ups, it's hard to remember sometimes that we learn and grow in our faith that way too. We are constantly questioning and challenging what we know about faith and God whether consciously or subconsciously--as we should be! God is not afraid of our questions no matter how hard we think they are and we should not be afraid of our kiddo's questions either. God is so much bigger than all of them! If we really know Him and trust Him and we truly believe this faith we are living, then we'll know in the deepest part of ourselves that it will always speak for itself and stand up to our doubts and fears and questions. THAT is what we need to pass onto our kids. Telling them that we don't know but that we'll find out is one of the best things we can do for them! It sets realistic expectations and shows them first hand that faith is a journey that lasts a lifetime. I think one of the worst things we can do for kids growing up in the faith is to make them think that their questions are too big or that grown ups don't have them. Then they grow up believing that if they have questions they aren't really saved or that by the time they're adults they should understand their faith in its entirety---which we all know is absolutely false! Let them ask, make space, encourage it, and stop being afraid to be real and honest with your kids! It's one of the best and bravest things you'll ever do for them!

How can I speak about big spiritual and Biblical concepts on a level my kids will grasp? 

First of all--let's get something on the table here and now. We all underestimate kids and what they understand and grasp way too often. Kids are far more capable and aware than we often give them credit for. We assume that things are too big and too complicated for them to understand and sometimes dumb things down way more than we should. We talk over them and as if they aren't there and aren't taking in and soaking up everything we're saying and doing and more importantly not saying and not doing. So once we clear that up, the question pretty much answers itself. Of course there are certain topics and conversations that need to be handled carefully and age appropriately, but if we start coming at it from this angle and give them a chance to have a seat at the table, we'll all learn a lot. Let's give them a chance to process along with us, let's invite them to the table and the conversation and lets learn and grow together. What you'll find is that kids often learn and understand just like you do! Jesus taught in a parables and metaphors, and this is a great and level playing ground for us all. We all need context and real life application in order to grasp some of the crazy big ideas that Jesus presented---even the extremely educated Jewish leaders needed it to come at them in story form--and even then they still missed it! We love when our pastors tell stories because it makes the content and the concept digestible and applicable. Lets apply the same strategies in bringing these things to our kids.

I feel like "going there" with my kids is going to create a level of pressure and accountability that I'm not sure I can live up to....

Yep. Get over it. This is a fact of life and one that we have to get over whether we're speaking in the context of our kids or any true faith community. Vulnerability and honestly living out our faith will call us to a higher standard that we've got to fight every day (with so much help from Jesus) to live out in front of others. That's really the whole point. And guess what....with that....will come moments of failure in front of people too--including our kids. But that's what we ought to be showing them. That in Christianity and in our faith journey, there is no arriving. There is a lot of hard work and learning and growth and falling down and letting Jesus and our faith family help us up again to keep running to finish the race. We never want to create a false sense of Christianity for our kids or one that rests on perfection and our performance. We want them to see the grace of Jesus active in our lives and at the center of our families.

So what are some practical ways that we can use Sunday Takeaways in a context that our whole family can benefit from?

Car Conversations 

We get it. Sunday afternoons are for yummy lunches and long naps. But, before we check out for the rest of the day and then get launched into another crazy week, why not use the last few together minutes we have to start a little family tradition. We all of a ride home from church to wherever we call home. Instead of everyone getting into the car and zoning out to their screens, why not make some intentional time and space for conversation around what happened at church that morning. Ask the kids what they learned in their space today and then tell them what you learned in yours. Have everyone share what really stood out to them and what Jesus is showing them for this week---verbalize them--so that everyone can help each other follow through throughout the week. Ask deep and hard questions of your kids and then let them do the same. If a question comes up that no one knows the answer to, decide that as a family you'll work to learn more about that together this week and even add to your prayers that God would give more clarity and understanding around it.

This doesn't have to be just a Sunday afternoon thing either. Look, it seems that more and more moms are unpaid Uber drivers and kids are endlessly on the go with activities. Such is life. Let's not fight it, let's just work with it. Rather than try to make morning time as a family around the table every day or go for something that feels overwhelming or unrealistic, why not work with the together time that's already built into your day and your family. Whenever you're in the car, make a no screens rule and make conversation intentional. Check in on things that you discussed on Sunday, listen to podcasts together, spend time worshipping together (maybe a song everyone really oved from Sunday service) or chat about how your applying things from Sunday to your week. If your kids fight it, remind them that without your car and your license they would be sitting at home and that this is their fare to ride...jk...but actually....It might take some time to create the tradition and the habit, and you may get some push back at first, but in the end it will be a time that the family can cherish together and that we're certain your kids will look back on with a lot of gratefulness.

Dinner Table Topics 
Again--just work with what you've got! Build this into already existing spaces in your family life. Make a family goal or intention that whenever you're all around the table together (for whatever meal or perhaps a special meal once a week) that there will be a faith question or topic that you discuss and dive into together. We know it's already hard enough to get everyone home at the same time and around the table at the same time, so don't add to the stress, just capitalize on what you've already got going! Let everyone participate no matter how small. Let little ones ask questions and also weigh in on answers--make them feel included in the conversation and let them start owning their faith no matter how small they are! Maybe even keep a jar somewhere that everyone can add questions and topics to throughout the week. It could be fun to bring the jar to the table at meals and randomly select a topic or a question that someone put in! Give it your own family flare! Figure out what works for you and get creative!

Write it to Remember It!
This is something I came up with years ago in my first run as a kids pastor. It was so simple but I couldn't believe how much of an effect it had on families in our church! While studying 1 Corinthians 13 and all of the characteristics of love, I simply sent the kids home with zip lock bags filled with tiny cards that contained one characteristic on each. I told the parents to choose one card as a family each week or every few days that they were going to work on together. They could hang it on the rear view mirror of the car or on the fridge or the bathroom mirror--wherever they were going to remember it. The challenge was to use it as a reminder for themselves and each other throughout the week. To encourage each other and applaud each other when they saw this characteristic in action and to also call each other out when they did not. This is such a super simple and super strong way to apply Sunday Takeaways as a family and to make Sunday last all week long! It can be a word or a spiritual discipline or a verse--whatever you want to work with as a family!

We hope this post encourages you to make your faith journey a family affair. We hope it empowers you live your faith our in a very real and vulnerable way in front of your kids! And as always, we want to hear your thoughts and ideas!

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