As the school year winds down and Memorial Day approaches, families with kids adjust to major shifts in weather, activities and schedules. In many congregations, children’s ministry also downshifts. But we don’t want kids to think the church takes a vacation from its mission over the summer.
Our family gears up for vacation by numbering the weeks of summer on our joint calendar, from one to 12 (or 13, depending when school is out). Number by number we review each week’s major activities, including where we’ll be on Sundays. Some weeks we know we’ll be at our home congregation. Other weeks we see we’ll be traveling—at camp, with the grandparents or on vacation in another state. Once we know how often we’ll be with our church family, we plan how we’ll study the Bible, worship and pray when we’re away.
Intentionally planning faith activities for the summer may take some time, but the results can lead to kids deepening their relationships with family members and with God. This has been the case for our family. As your family makes plans for Memorial Day and summer vacation, try one or more of these practices to infuse your journeys with faith. (Hint: Start by asking your kids what they would like to do.)
- Locate a place of worship: If family travel intersects with Sunday services, plan to worship with an ELCA congregation near your destination. Use the ELCA’s “Find a Congregation” tool to locate one. If there isn’t one nearby, consider searching online for another church with which the ELCA is connected, such as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) or the Episcopal Church.
- Create a “faith on the road kit”: Space can be scarce when you pack for a trip, but including a bag, box or other small container with a Bible, candle, shell, hymnal, cross or other items that help you study or pray together offers a physical reminder to kids that faith is part of any journey.
- Pray on the way: Whether you’re traveling to a wedding, a family reunion or a vacation destination, praying together can help ease little travelers’ worries (and yours). Before you begin a road trip or perhaps while you are sitting in the airport, say a prayer. Make up your own as a family or try this one: Keep us kind to each other. Keep us safe on the road. Keep us open to seeing you wherever we go. Amen.