We had a lot of kids who lived on our cul-de-sac as I was growing up. We had lot of kids in our neighborhood. But the memories that are most clear are the ones that include God. There were a handful of us who attended the same church. I have a very vivid memory of laying in my best friend’s front yard, laying in the grass and looking at the clouds. We talked about which one we thought Jesus lived on. Well, actually behind. Because we couldn’t see Jesus, but trusted He was there, so He had to be behind it, hidden from our view. We talked about what we thought He looked like and what He was wearing.
I have another memory of making a set of puppets to tell the Passion story. A girlfriend who lived behind me – and over two houses – and I, along with her mom (were there others?), created a beautiful set of puppets using felt, fabric, styrofoam, paint, paper mache’, yarn, pipe cleaners. You name it, we used it. I can’t remember exactly why we were making it, but I remember talking about what happened to Jesus that day. I remember that story coming to life for me as we practiced telling the story with these hand-made dolls.
Our faith was never intended to be lived out alone, or privately. And our faith grows exponentially when we learn, talk, listen, and play with other Christians. This applies to both adults and children. But today, I want to talk about our children.
We, at FaithWorks!, are very intentional about placing your child in a small group. We value relationships. We value developing trust. We value children having a safe place to come and ask questions, be challenged, learn something new, help one another.
So many times we talk about the value of your child having the same small group leader week in and week out. And that is so important. But it is equally important that your child spend time with others who they can call friends. Kids their same age. Kids going through the same developmental stages. Kids going through the same things at school. Kids going through some of the same things at home.
This month, in FaithWorks!, our elementary children are learning that friends “stick together like glue.” And I’d like to ask a few questions:
Do you know who their FaithWorks! friends are?
Do you know the names of the kids they spend their Sunday mornings with?
Do you ask your child what they learned in their hour in FaithWorks!?
Do you know who made your little one laugh? Or think? Or feel loved?
Do you know who your child is praying for?
I hope you don’t think I’m beating up on you. That’s not my intention. But I would like you to think about these things.
Who your child knows and loves and trusts as a friend helps them grow in their friendship with Jesus. God never wanted us to keep our faith to ourselves. He never intended for us to have a private faith. He gave us people to be in relationship with on purpose.
Here’s a short video by Reggie Joiner, the creator of the curriculum we use in FaithWorks!. He is talking to parents about the importance of your child’s friendships with others. It’s a great resource to get you thinking and talking with your child about friendship.
Whether you believe this or not, when I started this blog post this morning, I did not intend to talk about our Three For Me campaign that’s going on right now. If you haven’t heard about it yet or read about it in your email, it’s when we ask our parents to serve three Sundays in the summer to give our regular leaders some time off. BUT as I’m thinking about our FW! kids’ friendships and the importance of them, it reminds me that as a parent, I always like knowing who my sons or daughter are hanging out with.
This would be a great opportunity for you to get to know the friends your child is asking to pray for them, who they’re talking about God with, who they’re learning about God from, who they’re making memories with. The people who are journeying together with your child are so important to them. I thank you for making it a priority that your child sees them on Sundays.
As a grown up, I don’t see those childhood friends often. We’ve gotten married and moved away from our old neighborhood. But they helped shape who I am today. They are the ones I played church with in the garage, the ones I prayed with, the ones I visited when sick, the ones I dreamed with.
And these memories remind me that my faith has been a journey. One that started when my heart was young. And one that was influenced by my closest friends. They helped shape who I am today.