Becky May invites you to be intentional about how you lead your family in 2023
There is always a danger that when we take the Christmas decorations down and put them away for another year, we will metaphorically, as well as physically, safely wrap the baby Jesus ornament up and hide it away until next Christmas. For some children, Jesus is a character who only gets mentioned as a baby at Christmas and the victim of a cruel death at Easter! So what can we do to ensure that we take Jesus with us into the new year, as we endeavour to disciple our children all year round?
It can be really helpful to find some time to sit down as a family and talk about how we found the Christmas period from the perspective of our faith. Questions such as ‘when did you feel close to Jesus?’ ‘What helped you to celebrate Him?’ ‘What did you discover about Jesus this Christmas?’ ‘When did you feel far from God this Christmas?’ ‘What would have helped us more?’ This doesn’t have to be some kind of intense post-match analysis of the family festivities, just a gentle, honest family chat at the right time. These kinds of conversations give our children agency. It isn’t always us as the parents taking the lead, our children have a very valuable role themselves in participating in family discipleship, as we learn from them too. These conversations can also be incredibly insightful as we discover deeply significant moments in the lives of our children, that we would otherwise have overlooked.
It’s ok if our children don’t immediately offer suggestions, it may be that this is a new idea to you as a family and it can take time to build in God-conversations. You may find it helpful to model to the children the sorts of things you mean, normalising talking about God at home. For example; ‘I really loved how we stopped on Christmas eve to read the nativity story together, it helped me to stop being so busy and grumpy and focus on God. It made me feel peaceful; how about you?’
When you discover as a family some of the things that helped you to feel closer to God, talk about what you can do to carry this on, on a more regular basis. For instance, if it was reading the story together, perhaps make a plan to read through one of the gospels between now and Easter; If it was in serving others, find ongoing opportunities to serve as a family.
Where do you want to grow?
The second conversation you can have together is about where you want to grow in your discipleship this year; is it in developing your prayer life more, studying the Bible more closely, in participating more fully in the life of the local church? What are the next things God is calling you into. As you talk about this together, pray together, seeking God’s will for your lives. You may then have some decisions to make; are you united in wanting to grow in the same area, or are you all feeling a pull in different directions? That doesn’t have to be a bad thing; you can bless and encourage each other to pursue the thing God has put on their heart, coming back together as a family to share stories from the journey. It may be as simple as ‘we want to have more God-conversations this year’ and that can be the start of something incredible!
For more helpful ideas and resources, see:
Great resources (including podcasts for children) available here: bdeducation.org.uk/children
Tools to help develop an understanding of discipleship here: www.wearemakingdisciples.com