We have always known as parents that we were the ones ultimately responsible for teaching our kiddos to follow Jesus, and all that entails. To that end, we have spent the last several years tweaking and testing different means of family worship time, looking for ways to learn, grow, and enjoy the Lord together.
Finally, some friends of ours introduced us to Storying, and our family worship times deepened dramatically! Through Storying, our children became much more involved and engaged. They even lead! So, I'd like to share what our family worship times look like and hope that it blesses your family as much as it has blessed mine!
Our worship times generally include the same elements every time: songs, prayer, story, and discussion. The amount of time devoted to each element varies depending upon our family's needs and moods on the given day.
The first two elements, songs and prayer, are pretty self explanatory. There are countless fun and creative ways to involve prayer and songs, however, I'd like to focus mostly on the story and discussion elements today.
1. Tell the Story You can choose to read a story from a children's bible (we love the Jesus Storybook Bible), from a standard "grown up" Bible, or our particular favorite, Storying. With Storying, you study the particular story for that day and re-tell it in conversational language. The key is to not add any "extras", while putting it in terms easier to understand, and easier to share with those not familiar with "Christianese." For example, you might opt to use "place of worship" instead of "temple." Learn the story so that you can tell it like you would be telling about what happened to you at the park yesterday. Finally, keep the story short. It should only take 3-5 minutes to tell the story.
2. Tell the Story Again Once the story is finished, we usually say, "And that's our story," to signify the ending. Then tell the story one more time.
3. Learn the Story This is the fun part! There are several ways for everyone to learn the story. Our family's favorites are acting it out, or story boarding. If you choose to act it out, simply assign parts and re-tell the story with each person acting out the narrative as it's being said. For story boarding, give each person a pen/pencil and blank paper. Re-tell the story again, line by line, allowing each person to draw a very basic stick-figure drawing highlighting the main point of that line (a stick figure with a cross over its head holding his hands up might represent Jesus asking the blessing over a loaf of bread, for example). They key here: keep it simple.
4. Take Turns Telling the Story Each person who wants to can then try their hand at telling the story themselves, using the help of their storyboard if needed. Also, the family can all work together to re-tell the story. We like to have one person start and tell one line of the story, then someone else tell the next line, and so on. I have to admit, sometimes we leave this step out if attention seems to be particularly low. :)
5. Discuss We always ask the same 5 questions after each story. The great part is that the kids get really involved. Sometimes they ask the questions to the rest of the group! * What did you like about this story? * What did you either not like or found confusing about this story? * What does this story teach us about God? * What does this story teach us about man (humanity)? * What can we take from this story to change how we think/act/speak? (or how can we apply this story to our lives?)
Our kids really enjoy this style of family worship, and you'd be amazed at how much they get involved, and express in the discussion times! Our oldest daughter, who is 6 years old, is almost to the point where she can be the original storyteller, learning the story herself. The joy is letting them take ownership of their spiritual journey, and being willing to admit that we can learn from them, too!
What does your family do in your worship times? Did you try any of the ideas above? What did your family think?