By Amanda Markel
In my experience, many Christians struggle with leaving church behind after they leave the Divine Service on Sunday morning, and don’t really think about it again until they go back the following week. So how do Christians, especially Christian parents, intentionally make church part of their home life all through the week, so that their children don’t don’t see church as a “Sundays-only” thing?
First of all, you have to be intentional. You can’t just hope that church will come up during the week, that some random event will bring it to mind. You certainly don’t expect your children to learn to read or memorize math facts only one day of the week, right? Whether your children go to public or private school, or even if you homeschool, you know that you will be working on those skills with your child on a regular basis, even if these tasks aren’t assigned as homework. So look at teaching the faith, and learning about the life of the church in the same way…make a deliberate attempt to share it, set aside a specific time in your admittedly already busy life to help you child learn about church and God’s Word!
Once you’ve set aside time, you may be wondering how you can bring that kind of teaching into the home. Many children are visual learners, so start there. Make sure you have a crucifix in your home…even if you don’t talk about it regularly, your children will notice it. You can even make a Paschal candle for use in your home! This can make a great centerpiece for your family table, lit throughout the season of Easter, dark after Ascension Day, but always present, and then as the center of the family Advent wreath, waiting to be lit again on Christmas Day1
Your church also has banners and paraments appropriate to the liturgical season, and your home can, too. Make a banner for your own home, somewhere where it will be easily noticed, that mimics what is hanging in your church. Then, when the season changes, make another. This is not only a great way to tie church and home life together, and to learn about the different seasons of the church year, but it makes a fun family project! CPH even offers a books that are a great resource for creating many types of banners, so buy some felt and some craft glue, and have fun with it!
Find time throughout the week to talk about the Bible readings from Sunday. Not just once, but multiple times. And, while you’re at, discuss the hymns, as well. Children pick up on much more than we expect them to in the Divine Service, but they may also have some questions, especially when it comes to new vocabulary and Old Testament concepts. So talk about them. You may even discover that you’re unfamiliar with something from church on Sunday, and that’s OK, too! Model being a lifelong-learner to your children, and ask your pastor about the things you’re not sure of. He’ll be thrilled to help you, and your whole family will learn something!
Don’t forget about connecting with members from your congregation, whether they’re people you see every Sunday, or shut-ins you see rarely. While you don’t have to force social relationships outside of church, it is nice to interact socially when it’s natural on days other than Sunday. Have people over to dinner. Go to social activities sponsored by the church. Visit your shut-ins, or people temporarily in the hospital. The church wouldn’t really exist without her members, so make an effort to get to know each other and spend time together!
One of the best ways you can encourage your children to be a part of the church when they’re adults is to make it an important part of their lives when they’re still children, and not just on Sunday mornings. So find ways to bring church into your home, and make it part of your everyday life, too!