By Bishop Ann Svennungsen
I’ve blogged before about my family reunions – the Rev. David and Kari Svennungsen Memorial Golf Tournament and Potluck held every year on the last Saturday of July in Montana. I don’t think I have mentioned the tradition of the family worship service held the next day.
Early Sunday morning, a young adult drives into town for donuts and fresh-squeezed orange juice. My husband Bill and I go back and forth deciding who’s in charge of what part of the service (also a family tradition). My brother, Rock, tunes his guitar and plans the songs. Then, we all pack up our lawn chairs to gather down at the beach.
We reflect on scripture, share our thanksgivings for the past year, and offer our prayer requests for the year ahead. Miraculously, everyone shows up! That continues to amaze me. Sitting in that big circle are those who attend church every Sunday … and those who rarely attend. Perhaps, David and Kari’s expectations permeate the generations. Perhaps, people know there are gifts awaiting them in that gathering.
EARLIER IN THAT Montana vacation, I wrote a blurb for the soon-to-be-released Sparkhouse book Little Steps, Big Faith: How the Science of Early Childhood Development Can Help Parents Grow Their Child’s Faith.
Author Dawn Rundman, a member of Edina Community Lutheran Church, uses stories, humor, and insight into brain science to support those who yearn to raise children in the faith.
My lakeside worship experience made me even more grateful for her book. The activities available for kids seem to grow exponentially every year – crowding out church attendance and the formation church provides. So, what happens at home, what happens in the daily-ness of life, truly matters.
“The activities available for kids seem to grow exponentially every year – crowding out church attendance and the formation church provides.”
Rundman encourages caregivers to incorporate faith formation into the most basic activities: bath time, bed time, meals.
- Learn a few basic prayers and repeat them in the morning, at meals, at bedtime.
- Learn a few faith affirmations and repeat them as you help your child tie their shoes, take them out of the car seat, or comfort them.
- Ask other caregivers to share simple faith stories with your child.
One of the best parts of Rundman’s book is how grace-filled it feels – no judgment or guilt trips – just empowering harried parents and caregivers in the journey faith formation.
What ways do you support the faith formation of children? How does your congregation support parents and caregivers? What’s something new you could do? May God give us imagination, courage, and grace as we embrace all God’s beloved children.