Children's & Youth Discipleship
As we are moving into the summer months and the children and youth move into a rhythm outside of the academic calendar, it can be challenging to maintain the schedule your church might be used to having. Here are some ideas to make the summertime one that is meaningful and engaging for rising generations.
1. FAMILY DISCIPLESHIP - Put together a Family Faith Formation packet for family time at home (see below)
2. FLAT JESUS - The Flat Jesus Project is simple: each student gets their own paper cutout of Jesus to take with them on their summer adventures. You’ll encourage them to take photos of their Jesus as he walks with them—helping them keep Jesus at the forefront of their minds. For more information click here:
SUMMER FAMILY ACTIVITY BOOKS – The intention of this fun activity book for parents from The Village Church is to help families “to be intentional with your time together as a family.” It includes helping families set a rhythm, to capture God moments when they are out and about, activities to do as a family and other milestones. You can download a digital copy here and modify it to fit your context or family.
SECRET SERVANT - This game is like Secret Santa only instead of giving material gifts, instead you are doing “random acts of kindness.” Everyone in the family chooses a name and then their job is to secretly serve that person for whatever amount of time your family can handle the “not knowing.” A month about tops it for most families and at the end, do a “reveal” dinner and find out who was our secret friend for the month. For younger kids, it’s good to have a list of ideas or pictures of things they can do for others like helping to clean, washing their bike, making a snack, etc. so that they can have plenty of ways to serve.
ON MISSION - Sometimes the fun isn’t in doing something secretly but doing something together. Lots of families will go on family missions trips but if that’s outside your budget or not the right age for your kids, there are a lot of other ways you can serve together as a family. You could bake cookies for your neighbors, run a free car wash, serve at a local food pantry or free meal program, host a neighborhood potluck, visit the shut-ins or homebound members of your church, make up a picnic lunch and give it to another family, etc. Making service a family activity is not only fun, but it is the #1 ways researchers have found that teens connect their faith in Jesus to their life. Make Jesus come alive by being His hands and feet together!
Family Faith Formation
Perhaps you’ve been looking for a way to help household intentionally engage with one another around faith formation and Scripture this summer; if so, feel free to use the materials below!
Journeying with Paul At-Home Packet
Included in Packet:
Family Photo Scavenger Hunt
Water Balloon Battle
Picnic in the Park
NOTE: You will need to purchase the supplies for each activity; I found most of my items on Amazon and at the Dollar Tree. See the supply list at the end of the packet materials.
Activity #1 – The Gospel According to Paul, Family Photo Scavenger Hunt
In I Corinthians 15:1-5, Paul explains the gospel that he preaches to those he visits in his journey. He writes, “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.”
Once you have taken all of your photos, send them to [email address] and we will compile them for you and give you a framed collage of your family’s photo scavenger hunt experience looking for Jesus!
Activity #2- Paul’s Missionary Journeys
Jumping into Paul’s Journeys
Using the sidewalk chalk in the packet, draw a traditional Hopscotch shape on the sidewalk. Instead of numbers in each block, put the names of the cities that Paul visited on his first missionary journey. Find a stone to throw and jump through the countries in traditional hopscotch fashion to visit all the cities that Paul visited. Once someone lands on a city, mark it off. The person who lands on the final city “wins.”
Antioch in Syria Acts 13:1-3
Selucia Acts 13:4
Cyprus Acts 13:4
Salamis Acts 13:5
Paphos Acts 13:6
Perga Acts 13:13
Antioch in Pisidia Acts 13:14
Iconium Acts 13:51
Lyrstra Acts 14:6
Derbe Acts 14:6 and Acts 14:20
Activity 3 - It’s a Toss Up: Meeting Paul’s Friends
Using the enclosed bean bags and plates, create a Bean Bag toss game by laying out the plates and trying to land on them with bean bags. Each plate has the name of one of Paul’s friends and the Scripture reference where you can find them in the Bible. Whoever “meets” the most of Paul’s friends, “wins.”
Lydia, Acts 16:11-15
Priscilla, Acts 18
Barnabas, Acts 9:26-27
Silas, Acts 16: 25-36
Timothy, 2 Tim. 2:2-6
Phoebe, Rom. 16:1-2
Junia, Rom. 16:7
Titus, Titus 1:4-5
Activty 4 - Ring Toss: Third Time’s the Charm
Paul went on three missionary journeys, his final landing him in Rome. Set out four cones, including the one labeled “Rome.” Use the rings in the packet to toss around the cones. The first person toss the ring around all three cones and then around Rome “wins.” Even though Paul knew that he would likely end up in jail and dying in Rome, he went there because God told him to and because of that we have much of the New Testament.
WATER BALLOON BATTLE
Get ready for some fun on a hot day! We can imagine that Paul’s journeys took him through some HOT places. Grab a Bible and look at the maps of Paul’s 3 missionary journeys. And then, pick a hot day to have some family fun; Included in your packet is a water balloon “Bunch of Balloons” for you to fill and toss. HAVE FUN as a family
Activity #5 – Family Garden
Only God Can Make It Grow
We’ve been looking at Paul’s story over the summer and Paul talks about how sharing about God with others is like planting a seed. In I Cor 3:5-9, he shares about how he and another person named Apollos both helped to plant God’s story in people but only God can make it grow. You have some seeds and planters so that you can plant the seed and water it, but only the God could make all the sun and water and soil grow that plant. Have fun gardening together with God!
Who do you think Paul is, anyway? Or Apollos, for that matter? Servants, both of us—servants who waited on you as you gradually learned to entrust your lives to our mutual Master. We each carried out our servant assignment. I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working.
Printed Out Scavenger Hunt
Bean Bags and Paper Plates with Names/Scriptures on them
Rings and Cones
Water Balloons (I recommend Bunch o’ Balloons)
Seed Packets and Seed Starter cartons
Basket and Tablecloth
Worship and intercession must go together; the one is impossible without the other. Intercession means that we rouse ourselves up to get the mind of Christ about the one for whom we pray. — Oswald Chambers
This summer, consider creating a communal space (a bulletin board, a table, a couple of poster boards) where people can share about things they would like to have prayed about over the summer. It could be anything from friends and family in need to global issues they’ve heard about on the news. Throughout the summer, invite your congregation, all ages, to write prayer requests, add pictures, celebrate answers, and decorate the poster with your church’s prayers for one another. If you want some cool ideas to make prayer come alive for your church, check out these Four Fun Ways to Pray!
Pray For Me - The Pray for Me Campaign links the generations in your church community through prayer. During the campaign, students and families invite believers from multiple generations to pray for one year through the Pray for Me Prayer Guide. The start of the new academic year is the perfect time to kick off this prayer campaign so summer is the time to get all your pieces in place. I have helped many churches use this resource and would love to help you as well! Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for ideas on how your church can connect the generations through intercessory prayer.
1 Book - 1 Video - 1 Website - 1 Resource
Relentless Parenting: The Crucial Pursuit of Your Teen's Heart by Brian Haynes, https://www.amazon.com/Relentless-Parenting-Crucial-Pursuit-Teens-ebook/dp/B01ES65FCY
I have recently re-read this book as we are in the midst of the teenage years in the Embree household. Like many parents, we can sometimes feel frustrated and disconnected from their teens. Brian and Angela Haynes understand those feelings and provide great insight into loving and leading teens. While it may be tempting to step aside from parenting and avoid conflict, the authors encourage parents to do the hard things This book engages the hearts of parents by providing ideas for how they can stay connected to their teens. Topics include: words of power not pain, building identity, learning to listen, setting healthy boundaries, and the importance of home. The ultimate goal is to pass on a legacy of faith in God and strengthen the family relationship.
Gospel of the Kingdom by the Bible Project, https://bibleproject.com/bible-studies/church-at-home/week3-gospel-of-the-kingdom/
There’s a lot of unrest and disquiet in the world today and it impacts all of us from the oldest to the youngest. This video from The Bible Project offers the opportunity to spark a discussion about the goodness of God in the midst of these turbulent times. In the story of Jesus, we are invited to see that even the most unwelcome and tragic events cannot thwart God’s plan to restore our world.
Legacy Coalition: Christian Grandparenting, https://legacycoalition.com/
Legacy Coalition encourages churches to minister to grandparents as they encourage and influence their grandchildren. Their desire is for grandparents to look beyond the retirement culture and intentionally invest in the lives of their grandchildren. Legacy Coalition raises the importance of grandparenting through training, discussion, seminars and webinars as well as recommended resources shared by ministry partners. They are committed to elevating grandparenting above the larger seniors ministries of the church today.The grandparenting relationship has incredible potential for discipleship. Legacy Coalition wants grandparents to reap the rewards of their ministry to their grandkids.
The Culture Translator from Axis.org
This weekly email is commited to translating pop culture to help parents and caring adults understand and disciple their teenagers. Each week, the Axis team researches culture to help you stay up to date on the music, movies, TV shows, and social media trends impacting your kid’s world. I read it from beginning to end each week. The free version is fantastic but if you become an Axis member, the additional member resources are incredibly helpful and practical. You can subscribe for free at the website (above)