Lent for Families
Check out Sarah’s Lent Resource(s) here!
What do you want your children to KNOW, to BE and to DO when they graduate?
For the parents sitting in our fellowship hall on this early Sunday morning, high school graduation is still a long way off. Most of their children are still in Kindergarten, Preschool and first grade.
Even so, they answer:
To be kind.
To know the stories.
To be rooted in their own beliefs and to love and accept those who believe differently.
To know they have a church family.
These parents know something else too. They know that if this is the kind of person they want their children to become when they are 18, the conversations they are having at home right now –around the dinner table, before bed and on the drive to school or daycare–matter. These conversations form the foundation of faith that children will build on and give them the tools they need to carry their faith with them throughout their adult lives.
But being a parent is also exhausting and sometimes thinking about their children’s faith formation can feel like the final straw that finally snaps a parent’s aching back in two.
And that’s why they’re here.
We’ve gathered in February to begin talking about what practice families might choose to bring with them as they journey through Lent. I’ve scoured the internet to find simple, faithful ideas and then painfully narrowed the choices down to just four options. I invite the families to choose just one, to think of it as a Lenten Centerpiece [hyperlink “choosing a Lenten centerpiece]. After all, the one idea that manages to squeeze into a family’s busy schedule is better than the most beautiful pinterest board of ideas that never get done. Lent will come again next year, I remind them.
For this year, I suggested four simple practices that touch on different aspects of the Lenten journey:
Purpling your home is a simple activity that is done only once that helps families mark the new season in the church year at home as well as in the sanctuary.
Reading a book a week with Walk This Way study guide introduces a family to several new picture books and creates space for meaningful conversations about Lent.
Families who want to lean into service this Lent might choose Traci Smith’s 40 Day Give Away and let their children pick one item from their pantry each day to add to a box marked for a local food pantry, which will be delivered after Easter.
Alternatively, creating a Prayer Chain at the beginning of Lent helps nurture a family’s life of prayer and encourages children to countdown the days until Easter.
Because the best practice is one that is actually done, the Journey to Easter parent guide [hyperlink] offers some guiding questions to help parents, grandparents or guardians choose a practice and decide how they will incorporate it into their family’s daily rhythms.
If you’ve come to this page as a Christian Educator, you might share these resources as part of a workshop for those nurturing children at home. When I lead workshops like this, I love to have as many of the resources as possible available for caregivers to take home that day (no need to remember to order them online later). As an added memory trigger, I ask them to fill out a reminder postcard [hyperlink] that will be mailed to them the first week of Lent.
Faith at home is central to a child’s faith development, but families don’t need to do this work alone. What a gift it is when the church can come alongside families and support caregivers in their faith leadership at home.
Sarah Siebert is the Director of Christian Education at Hillyer Memorial Christian Church in Raleigh, NC. Sarah loves taking off her shoes and walking around in Scripture. Some of these barefoot moments happen through wondering questions during children’s Sunday school, exegeting a text with high school youth and contemplative Scripture reading during Morning Prayer.