Maybe regular church (or synagogue) membership just isn't working out for you. Maybe the kids’ sports schedules eat up every moment of your weekend time, especially Sunday mornings. And maybe you as a parent feel just a little bit guilty that you’re not giving your kids a better spiritual foundation. Well, there’s good news, and you don’t need to be in church to hear it! Here are five easy ways to reconnect your family to your spiritual roots, whether Jewish or Christian.
1. What Child Doesn’t Like Mail? For children under age 8, check out the PJ Library. This Jewish organization will send free, fun Jewish children’s books to anyone who signs up. Your child will receive a special package in the mail each month containing a new story based on Judaic values. The stories are colorful, interesting for all ages, and contain helpful background (like why latkes are made at Chanukkah) and conversation-starters for parents to discuss with their children. It’s a perfect “quiet time” in a box!
2. Does your child always ask to play with your phone? Well, for the younger set, an organization called OneHope has partnered with YouVersion (www.YouVersion.com) to launch the first Bible App for kids. It contains animated, storybook versions of the most well-known Bible stories (think Creation, the Fall of Man, Christ’s birth, etc). To help motivate children to continue reading, stars are awarded and points earned. With video-game appeal, this app entertains and educates children at the same time. Find it on Google Play under “Bible for Kids.”
3. YouVersion also has a larger app which will appeal to tweens and teens who are techno-savvy, as well as to parents seeking to deepen their own walk with God. Founded by LifeChurchTV, the YouVersion app has daily devotionals geared towards all ages, and covering a multitude of topics. Writings from popular authors and speakers are included, as are topical word studies. The app contains the entire Bible in at least 27 versions, including the Orthodox Jewish Bible, and can send you daily reminders to read as well as record your thoughts on any passage that sparks your interest. There are an unlimited number of ways to use this app, and the best one just might be that you don’t have to lug that big Bible with you to church anymore!
4. Need to know what time to light the Shabbat candles? Google MyJewishLearning.com and enter your zip code. This educational website will give you the weekly Torah reading portions as well as all kinds of historical and cultural tidbits about Judaism. Learn Hebrew, make traditional Yiddish recipes, and find out what is trending in Jewish news and culture here. Your Bubbe will thank you!
5. Staying on top of the thousands of new songs, movies, and TV shows your family wants to see is a monumental task. But thanks to an ingenious website by Focus on the Family, you can find out ahead of time what your child will be listening to. Search PluggedIn.com for movie titles, songs, video games, and TV shows. A detailed review (from a Christian writer) will give you a heads up on content, sexually explicit scenes, drug and alcohol usage, and various other issues, so that you can make an informed decision about whether your tween should be watching Justin Bieber’s new racecar movie. (Just kidding.) Isn’t it nice to feel in control again?
It’s a brave new world, especially for “traditional” religion, and religion is finally catching up with the times. Most churches or synagogues now post at least an audio version of their services on their websites so you can even listen from your comfy couch! There are proven reasons to keep your family’s spiritual foundation strong. Kids who grow up with a sense of where they come from and what they believe are a lot less likely to be swayed by negative societal pressures. Their identity is stronger and they weather the storms of life better than their peers. These tips can give them an “edge” spiritually that will benefit them not just on the field, but in every area of life.
c.Deborah Perkins, 2014
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.