Snow Day Sunday School

What was God doing in 1901 when the vacuum cleaner was invented? He was loving YOU! Church may have been snowed out this week, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying Jesus at home as we learned about His steadfast love that has always existed–even before microwaves were invented in 1946!

Going to church is a highlight of our week, so you can imagine how bummed my munchkins are when church services are cancelled due to hazardous road conditions. But that can’t stop us from enjoying Jesus at home. I’m going to give you a behind-the-scenes look into one of our Sunday morning experience and along the way I’ll give you a few pointers for doing “church at home” with your own family.

First, you need to get ready.

I spent a few minutes grabbing my Bible and gathering my thoughts while my kids eagerly set up the living room to “have church at home.” We’ve done this before so my kids know the drill. They drag chairs into the living room, grab Bibles, and even get dressed up if they want to (My pint sized princess will use any excuse to switch outfits.) My kids LOVE doing this! Let your kids be creative to set the room up in a fun way. They may even want to build a fort to serve as a “classroom.” (Trust me, teaching your kids with the top half of your 6 ½ foot frame crammed into a blanket fort totally rocks!)

Of course you, as the leader, need to get ready too. My wife watched the kids while I disappeared for a while to gear up for the lesson. Sometimes I grab something I’ve recently taught in Sunday School or AWANA. Other times I just share from what God has been teaching me in my own devotional life. I know I have a bit of a head-start since I’ve been a leader in children’s ministry for more than decade, but if you’re a Christian you should already totally be studying God’s Word for yourself. That’s the best way to get ready to guide your family on the journey of knowing and enjoying Jesus. Just share what God has been teaching you. You can be more or less extravagant than I am, the important thing is that you actually do something to enjoy Jesus with your kids. Awkward obedience is better than polished negligence every time!

Next, you need to get started!

It won’t be perfect and it will likely be unorganized, but just gather your brood and let them know it’s time to start. Here’s a peek at what I did with my own kids on Sunday.

Prayer Time: We began by praying and thanking God for His great love that never stops. Spending a bit of time praying with and even for your children is a great way to connect with your family on a spiritual level. You can even use a notebook to write down prayer requests or have children take turns thanking God for something they enjoyed from the previous week. There are lots of ways to pray with kids.

Bible Time: This is the main part of the whole thing. I decided to teach my kids about God’s eternal love so I used Jeremiah 31:3a, “I have loved you with an everlasting love,” as my key verse. I happen to have a super cool visual for this verse that I designed for Child Evangelism Fellowship, but I also used my whiteboard to make a homemade visual so I could personalize it with the initials of every member of our family. This was a fun way to explain that when God says, “I have loved YOU,” they can take His words personally. The little girls had fun telling what the pictures were and my son enjoyed guessing what words each picture represented before he looked up the verse and read it out loud for us.

Game Time: After explaining from the Bible about God’s eternal love, I drew a timeline and gave my family hints about key events throughout history. (A simple google search yields lots of historic events.) After they guessed each event I would ask, “What was God doing when this happened?” and they would respond, “God was loving me!”

This game was simple enough for my young daughters as I drew pictures and gave verbal clues related to some key inventions (dishwashers, fireworks, smartphones, etc.) It was also challenging enough for my son and even my wife. (This may be partially due to the fact that I’m not particularly good at drawing printing presses, which were used to begin printing copies of the Bible in the 1450s.) Repeatedly throughout this game, my whole family was both hearing and saying the key truth that God’s love is eternal.

Snack & Talk Time: Kids have lots of questions about the Bible if we’ll only take time to listen. They also really like snacks! So we give our kids a snack and talk to them. It’s just a low-key conversation, and sometimes it’s pretty brief, but it can also go pretty deep. We just chat while we chow down on naturally and artificially flavored fruit snacks! They can ask us questions about the Bible or anything else that’s on their mind. Even if we’re not snowed in, this is something we like to do as a family after church on Sunday to connect and communicate about what we learned or experienced at church. (Of course when that happens we prefer to serve homemade ice cream for a bona fide “Ice Cream Sunday” experience, but that’s another story for another article.)

Music Time: I like to intersperse songs throughout my lesson to help engage the short attention spans of my little ones, but we also enjoy having an “official” time where we all choose favorite songs to sing. My wife and I both play the piano so that’s handy, but we sometimes resort to just playing music from our phones or (better yet) I use my laptop to show my kids music videos on CEF’s FREE demonstration website! I wasn’t feeling very well this Sunday so I let CEF do the music time for me. Thanks CEF!

Since Jeremiah 31:3 was our key verse for the day, we sang this song several times and then I let my kids take turns choosing which other videos they wanted to sing along with. You can do a quick google search to discover lots of great Bible music for kids. But my family is partial to CEF music videos since we had a blast helping to make most of them. Plus they are (in my humble totally unbiased opinion) some of the best music videos for kids on the planet! Whatever your personal music preference, music time is an effective way to help kids enjoy Jesus at home.

That’s all folks, it’s not a complicated formula for success or even a detailed plan, but my whole family loved it and it was actually pretty easy to pull off. Of course it doesn’t have to look this way every time and, especially if you have really little kids like I do, it will probably be punctuated by interruptions and adjustments. That’s why my next advice to you is….

Finally, be flexible.

If you’re just starting this type of thing, be sure to explain what’s going on for your kids and don’t be surprised when they don’t quite catch on right away. We homeschool our kids and I’ve taught them in Good News Clubs, Sunday School, VBS, and AWANA so they are used to viewing their parents as teachers, but it can be an adjustment for kids who aren’t accustomed to this sort of thing. However, there are simple ways to keep your kids engaged even if this is a brand new experience for your family.

1. Involve your kids Look for ways to help everyone participate in your “church at home.” My party girl is the official “eraser” of my whiteboard. After I’m done talking about a word or picture she wipes it clean so I can move on to the next illustration. My beloved boy is currently our only reader, so he is responsible to look up verses, read whatever I write one my whiteboard, and occasionally hold the baby if needed. My pint-sized princess enjoys answering questions, singing her favorite songs, and distributing snacks. Kids can also quote Scripture, discuss what they’ve been learning in their own devotional time, go for a walk outside and praise God for His creation, write letters to missionaries, and so much more! Get creative and involve your kids in enjoying Jesus at home.

2. Train your kids Church at home is a great place for kids to practice church etiquette in a safe scenario where you can easily explain how and why to behave courteously toward others. My youngsters are learning to raise their hands and wait for their turn to talk as well as how to listen quietly and respectfully to an adult leader.

3. Show your kids Show your kids pictures, motions, or objects that will help them understand and remember what you’re saying. You can use objects from around your house or find simple activities and suggestions online. I like to draw pictures on my whiteboard to illustrate concepts for my kids, but you can also use flashcard visuals, pictures on your smartphone or laptop, and even flannelgraph if you’re really feeling retro! (Kids these days LOVE flannelgraph and tend to think it’s a magic trick of some sort.)

4. Enjoy your kids Especially if your kids are small like mine, you’ll probably wind up pausing several times to take cardboard out of someone’s mouth, change a diaper, or watch the ladybug that dropped in unexpectedly. That’s fine. Don’t lose your focus and especially don’t let yourself get frustrated with your kids for not following your agenda. Smile at them, laugh with them, hug them, and listen to their ideas. The biggest lesson they will learn from this whole experience is not in what you say, but in how you enjoy Jesus with them.

My kids love having church at home, and here’s the fun part, you don’t have to wait for a snow day to make it happen! You can regularly lead your kids in discovering and enjoying Jesus at home! If that’s not something you’re already doing, why not take a tip or two from this article and try it today?

And by the way (Shameless product advertisement alert!), if you’re looking for ideas and activities to help you plan Bible-based time at home for your family, you should check out our book “Enjoying God My Creator.” This FREE digital download has lots of ideas that could help you get started.

Nathan Hamilton
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