If you’ve ever seen, taught, or raised toddlers then you know how difficult the idea of sharing can be! From the child’s favorite toy to a new gift, allowing others the permission to possess what we have can be a daunting task. However, by the time we are adults we have a much better handle on sharing, don’t we? We know the joy of sharing our time, possessions, a great new wine discovery or even sharing a meal with others is actually enjoyable and rewarding.
How about sharing faith? Yes, sharing who we are with others is important and a reflection of the love that has been graced to us by God. But what about sharing our personal stories of what God has done for us in our lives. Take a moment to consider a time when you felt like God was difficult to find. Now think about when God seemed to be near or was very present to you. We all experience the mountains and the valleys and realize that God is with us all the time. It is important to share these experiences with others so that they may experience the living God and God’s abundant graces. Sharing faith builds faith!
During our catechetical sessions we are very busy. We spend a considerable amount of time teaching, doing activities, reviewing terminology, building relationships, and record keeping. We share our faith with the children and they share their learning with us and each other. Often, we create wonderful crafts, recreations of the Ten Commandments, a creche, an advent wreath, and activity sheets. Recently, we may have even been using digital activities and prayers, printable activities, videos, PowerPoints, or the like. But soon the session is over and we may send home a couple of home activities and announcements that will hopefully get read and completed over the week.
Are we missing opportunities to get our students talking about and sharing faith? Are we sending home things that we hope will get looked at at home or are we intentionally creating opportunities for children to share their faith after the session is over? Chances are, we are providing our children with experiences, discussions, and projects or activities that provide a strong foundation to share. But are we truly setting the students up to know how to share this new found faith and wisdom with their family members or beyond?
Consider these ways for children to share faith:
- Create a poll – Asking others about faith is a great way to learn. Have students create a poll based on lesson content. They may ask a specified number of people if they can recite a prayer, name the seven sacraments, recite a favorite scripture verse. As a twist perhaps they poll to see how many of the Ten Commandments people can name. Polls may be conducted in person or created online and distributed by email or Social Media.
- Send a text or email – Connect with distant family members with this idea. Have students recap the lesson content and email distant family members or friends to see if they can respond with an example of faith in their lives. Some content may work better than others so be sure it’s applicable. For example, if learning about the Good Samaritan, have them share the scripture and ask how you have been either the Samaritan of the injured one in the story and what happened. Children can share the printed responses next class.
- Make a video or PowerPoint– Children love to see themselves on video and in pictures. Have students create a video of a classroom skit or reenactment of scripture. Some students may enjoy creating a slide presentation of a prover, devotion, or list of information learned in class. These presentations can be posted on the church’s website or emailed home.
- Interview someone – Face to face sharing is a wonderful experience. Have students generate a list of questions based on lesson content (or perhaps on sharing faith). They can conduct interviews over the week and share findings next week!
- Create a Flat Jesus – With the popularity of Flat Stanley, Flat Jesus will become a long remembered activity. Have students create a Flat Jesus to send to friends and family over the year. Photos can be mailed or emailed chronicling Flat Jesus’ travels and experiences. What a great way to share that Jesus is always with us! (Google Flat Jesus for ideas!)
These are all approaches that can be conducted during class for the purpose of sharing faith afterwards. Children have fun creating and sharing with each other during class and during the week as they work on the task. Friends and family are blessed that this child has given them an opportunity to focus on their faith, if even for only a few minutes. And catechists are blessed that all of the great things in class have moved into the students’ personal lives during the week.
What types of approaches have you used to encourage sharing faith?