Teaching our Young

I am writing this in Canada, where my snow made family are enjoying the snow thanks to a prize my husband won from Mogul Travel.

As I am not currently allowed to ski, I snow shoe or wander my days away.

In fact I think I pray more on a skiing holiday, not just for my family though there is definitely a rise in requests for protection, but I pray for the people I encounter, I pray for the environment, I just enjoy long conversations with God about a whole heap of things that get pushed out of the way in the everyday.

But that’s not what is on my mind to write about today.

We have a room overlooking one of the ski runs and so from my vantage point I see the children being taught. Some are being taught by the snow school in small groups, the youngest starting out mostly on ski’s not boards. Most of the time the teacher/instructor is in the lead gauging out a path and showing the children where to turn. Others line the group up and ski down the hill a bit, then encourage each in turn to make their way down to the instructor/teachers side.Then there are the parents, usually with a single child in tow, some parents ski behind acting as a barricade, just fare enough away for independence but close enough to reach out in an emergency. Other parents ski with the child between their legs, showing them when to turn and giving comfort as well as guidance. Then there are the young boarders, usually in small groups, all encouraging and egging each other on. This group try new things, they are usually young or pre-teens, and I’ve noticed that when they spill or go down this group, eventually work their way back to their mate to check on them.

It also takes me back to when we first put our kids on ski’s, both were about 3, we taught them some basics, then had them skiing down little slopes or very big moguls, sometimes we were in front, sometimes we skied behind and other times we skied with them firmly wedges between our legs. We frequently went in for hot chocolates. And to warm up little fingers, toes and noses. But long before they were first on “planks” ski’s they had been up to Mt Hotham, where we ski in Australia, regularly since they were born. They were surrounded by other skiers, they heard the stories, knew the terms, One has the most beautiful technique, the other gives all she has got and every run is a race, against herself if no-one else.

I need to admit that we did better with teaching our children to ski than in establishing life long faith habits.

And this is what I really wanted to write about.

What if anything can we learn about teaching our young.

For one thing Christianity is not always caught it is taught, but teaching involves the everyday moments. It involves hearing the stories, being regular, listening to the enthusiasm of those involved in faith. Some might call this organic.

It involves finding the learning method that suits their age and stage. Erikson’s and Piaget’s theories point us in those directions.

They need space to practice on their own, Montessori’s theories support this observation.

They need to be shown different ways too. Our five learning methods show that we need a spread of different experiences to find our best learning style.

Studies are showing us that this new generation of youth want to be connected to the larger picture, not isolated as a seperate body of learners.

We need to practice our faith at home using multiple methods to help our children find their best faith expressions.

We need to stay connected to faith communities that can encourage us and them.

We need to live our faith, and show them how they can live theirs.

Yes there is a lot to learn from skiing!


Wendy Lewis


KISS Advent for grandparents, ok everyone!

As I prepared this, I was tired, jet lagged, and sick. More and more wonderful stuff kept coming in from my “sources” on the great ways to practice Faith Formation with the family for Advent. Or options to use for Intergen services. Overwhelmed did not come close to explaining how I was feeling.

So, I threw my hands up and went. Enough. Maybe I was only meant to pursue this blog approach to sharing the faith for 12 months. Then it occurred to me. If I was feeling bombarded how were the families feeling.

Now, for those of you reading who live outside of Australia, you need to know that December is the busiest month for families. It is the end of the school year. Our weather helps by providing us with longer, warmer days, so that lets us pack in way more in a day then is good for anyone. That is unless you are affected by our natural disasters such as Bushfires and Cyclones. In which case trauma, becomes a whole different topic. But usually, this is the season for end of concerts- school, ballet, music classes, work, and then there is the get to gather’s, usually around the BBQ in the extending daylight. This may be the time of the year when grandparents are called on the most. Adult children, need extra babysitting services for their offspring (your beloved grandchildren) as they try to stay social and fit in all the work commitments. Grandparents are required at ALL the end of Concerts/events. Many Grandparents are still working themselves and may very well have parents of their own that need extra care at this time of the year.

Overwhelming does not even cut it. Exhaustion in big servings, is the order of the day.

So how can we honour the season of Advent in our lives and our homes, and influence all the generations we have around us? KISS, yes Keep It Simple S (ok you know the rest). And a few extra kisses won’t go astray either!


In the midst of the chaos, a moment to reflect, is a positive strategy for you and sets a good example for those around you.

Mine is simple, by sharing it I hope you will find something in your everyday that keeps you focused on the reason for the season.

I have a Magnolia plant that blossoms during Advent, The buds remind me of candles in their shape, and like a flame when the flower opens it spreads out exiting perfume and visual delight. Then like a candle it dies, turns brown, leaving like a candle the essence of what had been and what is to come. I love watching the plant bud, bloom and die, and it reminds me of Christ’s impact on the earth, our own short trajectory, and the continuity of God though history and our lives, from birth to death. This simple visual meditation, opens me up to listening for God.


In a previous home we had two beautiful Christmas Wattles that bloom red flower crowns during Advent. The colour reminded me of Pentecost and that we celebrate God bursting into this world in human form for us.

If you like to colour in, you might like A sanctified Arts Advent book, http://sanctifiedart.org/draw-near-advent-devotional/

I settle down when everyone has gone to sleep, make a cuppa, I like lavender and chamomile at the moment, and just spend a quiet few minutes this way.

But you might prefer the very quick, 3 minute in fact, 3 minute retreat by Sacred Spaces, you can down load the app on your phone https://www.loyolapress.com/3-minute-retreats-daily-online-prayer?utm_source=sacredspace&utm_medium=banner&utm_content=3mr-module&utm_campaign=3mr

Decorating for Advent

How do you send a firm signal that this is a home celebrating Christian Advent and Christmas not just commercial Christmas?

Think about the way you decorate,

what are really simple ways to make a small statement

Our stocking say Hope, Peace, Love and Joy


Keep an Advent candle circle in a prominent place. I add a candle each week as we count down. Those family members who only visit a church with you on Christmas day will have been trained by you to understand what this means.

OR have a cake at the end of each weekly family dinner, with a purple candle on it for each week of the advent calendar. So start with 1 purple(or blue) candle, then 2 purple (or blue) candles 2 purple and 1 pink- week 3, then 3 purple 1 week. (many years ago I read of this idea but I can’t find the reference)

Use purple and white in your Christmas Tree decorations and choose decorations that can help you tell a faith story to your grandchildren. Better still get them to help you make them.

REMEMBER the object is to share the faith story, these are just prompts for others to ask, or for you to tell about your faith.

Advent Calendar

Make this beautiful version, better still get the children to help you make it https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/56545040/posts/3463

or use the ideas’ here https://prayingincolor.com/2018


Fill the house with meaningful Christmas music, Choose a Christmas radio station, or use Spotify Try Christian Children’s Kids songs

Or my favourite https://matthewwest.essentialfan.com/products/heart-of-christmas-cd

Choose a style of music that suits you or your family members. from traditional to Colin Buchanan https://colinbuchanan.com.au/products/jingle-jingle-jesus-mp3-album-and-individual-songs or

Seeds that have a strong Biblical base https://www.seedsfamilyworship.com/product/seeds-of-christmas-ep/

Create a family band.

Family Reflection options

You can grab one of the many family reflection options such as https://store.illustratedchildrensministry.com/collections/illustrated-family-resources/products/an-illustrated-advent-for-families

or http://www.ctmresourcing.org.au/2018-intergenerational-advent-resource

Great for sharing with grandchildren through the Advent season as they come and go https://www.sallylloyd-jones.com/jesus-storybook-bible-advent-guide/?fbclid=IwAR0BadoUNx8EWZzLL5HauW7IEFm0Lt-3hkbOeAFHh0712Y18V1wcsvGLCQQ

Keep it Simple

red kiss neon light signage on dark lit room
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

Show your family how easy it is to fit Advent into the busiest time of the year.

That faith enhances, not weigh’s us down.

Hopefully they may find that faith is what has been missing from their lives.

Lead the way.


Wendy L.




Divorce and Mark 10:2-16

This weeks RCL Gospel reading is Mark 10:2-16. In my NRSV, they carry the headings, Teaching about Divorce and Jesus Blesses the Little Children.

For most in Children and Family Ministry it is another bonanza weekend, not just the lovely child relatable verses on Jesus and the teacher, but the verses on Divorce.

Now many will be tempted I suspect to treat this reading as two distinct readings, erring, probably to the last 3 verses, rather than dealing with the first 11 on divorce or the whole 14.

Divorce, is not a topic any self respecting Child and Family minister can avoid. It happens, it is legal, and some people who have a literal faith find the issue difficult to speak about except in absolutes and complicated grief. Walking with anyone in the messiness of life, especially with children during these occasions, is not just a calling, but a faith response.

As I said in my Tuesday’s blog, taken as a whole this reading speaks to me of the Kingdom of God, where everything is permanent and thus secure and all, including the children are not turned away. (Look at the form and structure of the readings from Mark  8:33 to understand how I’ve reached this conclusion).

Helping families to find secure welcoming environments is the definition of  Child and Family Ministry.

This is an occasion when all my “hats” come out, the Grief and Couples Counselling, the theologian, the child and family work, the teacher, and not just in healing broken lives but in helping families stay whole and supported.

To that aim I’m going to share some resources that I have found useful for helping create stable environments. This list is not definitive and I encourage anyone with other resources to share them with others by adding them in to comments this week.













Wendy L.






School Holiday’s and Worship

When I was in the city during school holidays, our children’s numbers increased, which was the exact opposite of what appears to happen in our suburban churches. School holiday’s seem to see our suburban churches empty themselves of children.

Even those families that consistently turn up week after week, will “disappear” over the school holiday’s. Some will say, that it’s because the family needs a rest from the structure of the term, other’s that there are no Sunday School so therefore there is “Nothing for the kid’s”. Some will travel, physically being absent, while some move into the home of their non-custodial parent.

Regardless of the reason, modern Australian families function differently during the term break, than they do during the term, but church does NOT. It continues in the same format, except that it might drop Sunday School if they still operate traditionally. Unless you have a congregation of 20, 30 or 50 year olds, almost everyone else will be experiencing a term timetable.

So we can accept that for 12 weeks of the year that our churches will be child free, or we can see if some changes might result in a greater engagement with the church and community families.

Depending on what you discover, by asking around or a brief survey of your families, will determine what strategies you might like to try.

For example if families are not attending Sunday morning services due to the need for a “lay in” or the need for some “family time”, you might want to change the times and style of your services during the holidays. Try a Saturday evening or a Sunday lunch or late Sunday afternoon service. You could make this an Intergenerational Service and use such resources as http://seedstuff.blogspot.com/2018/09/ or ENGAGE https://ctm.uca.edu.au/children-and-families/category/resources/reading/

Or you could try Messy Church during school holiday’s only http://messychurchaustralia.com.au

If you have an ageing congregation, don’t underestimate the importance of Grandparents  in guiding their grandchildren to faith, so giving them some options to involve their grandchildren, could have many benefits.

If your families use this time to travel, then it might be the time to strengthen family faith formation tools so that families include worship moments into their holiday routine. You might suggest the https://www.illustratedchildrensministry.com/families/#more-12 for creative families or

https://www.seedsfamilyworship.com for those who are musical

or https://d6family.com/a-d6-home/

or https://parentingforfaith.org/about

or https://www.max7.org/en/resource/7waysfamilies

Though some families may visit other congregations as part of their holiday’s, circumstantial evidence seems to suggest that families are unsure of attending different congregations, because of the multiplicity of expectations and programs that are available.

Are you ready to encourage such random, holiday makers into your service. Do you need  information sheets or words of welcome, more obvious or welcoming worship spaces. Don’t be the congregation in this blog post https://refocusministry.org/2018/09/18/please-enjoy-the-remainder-of-the-service-in-our-lobby/

Does your congregation, change it’s services or times to reflect the term times?

Does it do something creative to involve families during the school holidays?

Share with us


Wendy L



An ode to Father

As I write this I am interstate for my Dad’s Big 0 celebration. As his birthday and Father’s Day are usually very close together, we have never really celebrated Father’s Day other than to say it on the day. Twice now I’ve been “hanging upside down” in the other hemisphere when they have celebrated Father’s Day, and because it has resulted in me missing my Dad I’ve sent him Father’s Day wishes, only to be asked Why? and be told that 1 Father’s Day a year is already one too many.

When I was studying Children’s spirituality, one of my fellow classmates was a Korean born father of 2 very young girls, He told me that they only celebrated Parenting Day in his birth culture, and did not differentiate between mothers and fathers parenting role.

At the shopping centre I stopped to talk to a woman with a 3 year old in tow, who was looking for a “father’s Day card” that didn’t say Father’s Day for her partner. Yes we did find one.

All of this made me think of God, the God I often refer to as Father, the God that goes by many names. I was asked once by my spiritual supervisor to explain why I always refer to God as He. My answer seemed to floor her, when I said in French every noun is assigned a masculine or feminine definer it doesn’t mean that they are truely male or female. God for me is God.

My Dad, sews, knits, and cross-stitches, he also makes timber toys and furniture and grows vegetables, I could easily go from Mum to Dad for help or answers. We did not have male or female chores in my birth family, everyone was expected to do whatever chore was assigned, from ironing, washing, to mowing or putting out the garbage. I don’t think of sexism as a concept it had to be taught to me.

I appreciated learning about Feminist Theology because it opened my eyes to the riches of God as found in the Feminine, just as I had appreciated Liberation Theology and even more so the Child Theology Movement for the broadening of my understanding of God. To see God through different eyes. But God is still God, these “eyes” just open mine to the breath and majesty that my own shortcomings hold me too.

I appreciate that even though we are made in God’s image there are times when our parents fall short of our own needs and this is when the perfection of God’s parenting of us infills the holes so often left gaping in our lives. K. Rahner wrote in his Theological Investigations  Vol.8 (London, Daarten, Longman and Todd, 1971), “We may take the case of one who has never been able to realise in this way what a close relationship with his father means, one which he has felt that he could absolutely rely upon to provide him with love, protection and security. It is precisely such a one as this who can only succeed with difficulty in achieving that idea of God’s fatherhood”.

At some stage in my studies I came across a study that strongly indicated that it was the family units where the Father strongly led the family in faith that had the greatest possibility of producing children who own that faith into their adulthood ( I am hoping someone reading this will remember this study and pass that information back to me so that I can properly annotate it.) I loved this idea as Father’s have often indicated to me that there is so much emphasis on the mother’s role that they feel superfluous. Let me make it plain and loud, you are an important part of children’s faith formation.

Biblically we have many images of Father’s from the imperfect to the caring. Jarius’s father comes to mind in the Gospels, Lot left with his daughters, Noah, Abraham, Laban, and the list is not exhausted. The Bible has many stories to help guide our parenting as we learn from the faith tradition stories, so much older than our own wisdom.

Dear Father’s may you search and share the wisdom older than your own understanding. May it guide your future and prepare the future generations for their turn. Amen



Wendy Lewis


If we do it – will they come?

My home congregation is ageing, but does that mean that just because at present the youngest are not part of our congregation that we should not prepare as if they are?

It is so frustrating preparing elements of worship that are not going to be fully utilised, so it is easy to see that congregations would just give up, expecting that they could spend their time on something really useful, rather than being prepared for something or someone that doesn’t appear.

But as soon as I think along those lines or hear others proclaim them I immediately hear the story of the bridesmaids in Matthew 25: 1-13, and remind myself to be ready for even the youngest child to have an opportunity to have a faith experience.

Because they will, find their way into our aging congregation. They might be bought  by Grandma or Grandpa, they might be visiting friends or family in the area, or they might be new to the area and checking out the local churches.

I have even been involved in congregations that claim they have very little young children, but what they mean is that they don’t have them every week. Yet when things are provided for children and families in worship their regularity has increased, prompting the congregation to wonder “where have all these children come from”

Sometimes it doesn’t take very much, the creation of a families space, near the front of the sanctuary. Some quality Christian story books, or quiet clean and safe toys. Some children’s bibles and work sheets or colouring in sheets on the readings or theme of the day. you might like to try https://www.illustratedchildrensministry.com or https://www.childrensbulletins.com/default.aspx, which can be downloaded and printed on the day, depending on the number of children you have present. Don’t forget to have pencils or texta’s that are sharpened or working.

Allocate an Elder or volunteer who will welcome any family when they arrive, and help them settle in, or understand the service.

You might also look at having a change table in the toilets, and some safe steps or children’s toilet seat. Just in case!


Wendy L

The Opportunity

As I put together the resources for Tuesday’s blog, on helping the 3’s and under relate to the Revised Common Lectionary readings of the week https://thecrossinmybackyard.wordpress.com/2018/07/17/after-pentecost-9b-ideas-to-help-the-3s-and-under-connect-with-the-rcl-readings-for-this-sunday/

My attention was drawn to the Gospel reading, easy I thought, loaves and fishes story again, easy! Then I realised it was only one part of the scripture Mark 6: 30-34 and 54-56.

The loaves and the fishes story was not a part of the reading.

The first part of the reading had my attention as I realised that it was every parents cry. “Just give me time to myself”, but the response is interesting, instead of diverting themselves to another quiet space, Jesus “had compassion (for the crowd) for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (NRSV). He cared enough for the disciples to suggest some quiet time, and cared enough for those needing them to care for them himself. What an image it paints for parents everywhere, struggling with that delicate balance of needs, mine and theirs.

I remember being told the story of Suzanna Wesley, throwing her apron over her head to “pray”, and that all the children, John and Charles Wesley included, knew this was the time to leave her alone as she needed to spend this time with God.

Then I came across  https://worshipingwithchildren.blogspot.com/2015/06/year-b-proper-11-16th-sunday-in.html and her suggestion to use the wonderful book https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EA3blQB1psU FIVE MINUTES PEACE BY  JILL MURPHY to explain this reading. There the poor mother struggles to find time alone, only to be joined by her children. How similar and yet how different to this weeks Bible Reading. Jesus wanted “to shepherd the sheep”, he seemed energised in His compassion, and continued teaching.

Our children want to be with us, just like the “crowd wanted to be with Jesus and the disciples. Just like Mrs Larges’s children. We have much to teach them, to find faith, how to worship, how to do community. Sitting in the pew on Sunday may be the time you crave to yourself or with your Maker. But it might also be the teaching moment that you have been given with your children.

May you chose wisely


Wendy L.



Communion as a place for Intergenerational learning and acceptance

My two favourite stories come from some of the youngest members in my care.

The first story is of a newly minted toddler, two weeks earlier she was a crawler, easily picked up by her parents when ever she moved out of range, and bought back to the fold.

Now she had disappeared. In any church a missing child is a concern but to an inner city church, a thousand awful  possibilites crossed my mind.

While some of us searched, and the concern was starting to swell forward from the rear of the church, communion was going on. Where did we find her, sitting at our Minister’s feet, waiting patiently for her “errant” parents (that seemed to be the look on her face) to join her so she could have communion.

The second was another slightly older child, who took to serving “communion” to his parents at the start of each meal.

These children regularly, every second week, participated, along with the other members of our congregation in Communion, which was an open table for “all who love Him, and those who want to love Him more”.

This truely intergenerational regular moment, was a true embodiment of remembrance of and for Christ.

Everyone who wanted to be was involved. Even Baby’s in arms were blessed,

Communion elements went to all, including the children.

It was a regular occurrence, meaning that even the most time pressured of parents, managed to participate regularly.

Children demonstrated, through their behaviour that they understood how important this event was, and that they wanted to be a part of it.

Adults allowed them to participate equally. Making space for families to be together, and not excluding the children.

Not every congregation has the capacity to frequently include communion, though some manage it every week.

Not every denomination, allows for an open table.

To me it seemed the most inclusive, intergenerational moment.

I am curious if others have had similar experiences. Or have other experiences of inclusivity.


Wendy L.

Aussie Music Music Music in the key of Faith

Faith expression and music go hand in hand. John Wesley thought it so important that he wrote a list( a long list) of important requirements.

So I thought I would run through a few Christian Australian musicians making children’s music.

Colin Buchanan numerous see https://www.koorong.com/c/music/childrens-music

J for Jesus by Emu Music https://www.koorong.com/search/product/j-is-for-jesus-emu-music/9331213000305.jhtml

or Get Ready  https://www.koorong.com/search/product/get-ready-emu-music/9331213000213.jhtml for the slightly older crew

Snack Music https://www.snackmusic.com.au

Sean Smith https://seanwsmith.com

or more mellow try Heather Price http://heatherprice.com.au/live/

Have fun finding the style that suits your family/ies best.

Let me know of others so we can expand this list


Wendy L.

A warm welcome

Not every congregation can afford the ministry of a Child and Family Pastor, but all can do some small things, even if they don’t have children regularly attending.

Print out a small pamphlet that lets a visitor know what the arrangements are for children in worship, ie ,

where to sit,

where to find books, toys, or other activities,

how to find the toilets,

what to do if your child cries, etc.

Make sure there are clean and safe toys, preferably toys that will stimulate faith discussions, some people may call church “God’s waiting room” but it doesn’t have to look like a doctors surgery. https://wordpress.com/post/thecrossinmybackyard.wordpress.com/34

Modern, engaging books, that retell the bible stories, or encourage faith ideas. https://wordpress.com/post/thecrossinmybackyard.wordpress.com/41

Maybe an iPad or 2 loaded with christian books, and games and a small pair of earphones, ( try Officeworks). Personally i would turn the volume to low or off, so they can hear what else is going on in the congregation.

Allocate a welcoming person for children and families each week, just incase a family arrives, (naturally this person will hold a Working With Children’s Card).

Some washable texta’s and colouring in sheet or worksheet such as those found at https://store.illustratedchildrensministry.com or https://www.childrensbulletins.com/tour/church-activities-for-kids.aspx

Something special to take away and remind them of their time in church, such as a sticker, or a welcome certificate (easy to create and print off as needed)

Most important a welcoming smile and a tolerent attitude.


Wendy L