Category Archives: Faith@Home

Why Do We Have to Go to Church?

This morning, as we were getting ready for church, our eight year old daughter blew up in frustration and yelled, “Why do we have to go to church?”

Instead of responding with a quick answer, I was actually glad she asked the question. I would rather have my daughters ask good questions  and learn to think for themselves.

After leaving a full-time church job a few months ago, our family hasn’t really had to attend church. Each Sunday we have a choice whether to attend or not. And our girls know that.

So why do we attend church? Even the author Donald Miller has written about his personal struggles with attending church.

This month we are focusing each week on one of our family values. This week we are focused on the value of faith and answering Anna’s question of why we need to go to church is definitely part of the conversation. Notice it is really about why we NEED to attend church instead of HAVE to attend.

So here is my attempt at how I would answer the question of why church attendance is important to our family. Read the rest of this entry


Developing Your Family’s Mission and Values

Hillary and I have been reading through Bruce Feiler’s new book “The Secrets of Happy Families” and have been devouring it. The ideas and principles are different from any other parenting book yet practically transformative. Definitely worth picking up!

One of the insights Feiler found as he talked to different families was coming up with a list of values and mission statement that are unique to your family. I don’t want to explain the whole process because I really think you should pick up the book. In chapter 3 titled “Branding Your Family,” Feiler dives into how it is important to discover and communicate your family “brand.” So often we develop values and mission for our work but don’t bring those principles home.

On New Year’s Eve, we sat down with our girls and came up with ten values that fit our family. We asked our girls the following four questions from The Secrets of Happy Families:

  1. What words best describe what we want our family to be like?
  2. What is most important to our family?
  3. What are our strengths as a family?
  4. What sayings best capture our family?

We kept the discussion short because we wanted to keep their interest but it was cool to see what was going through their minds. It is so important to have our girls play a role in what our family is becoming.

Now we will hang these values and mission statement by our kitchen table so we can refer to them with the girls.

Here are our Newton Family Values and Mission Statement:

Family Values Poster

Family Time with Buck Denver and Ponies

Parenting pastor’s kids is not easy. I was once a pastor’s kid. We knew everything or at least we thought we did. We could answer any Sunday School question even the ones whose answer wasn’t Jesus.

Now I am a parent and a pastor and therefore, my children are the dreaded PKs.

For the last few years, Hillary and I have decided that “Family Time” is one of our sacred traditions. Family Time is a once a week event at the Newton house that involves some sort of spiritual emphasis through an activity or story.

Thanks to the US Government we received a bit more cash into our bank account so we decided to invest in a great tool for our weekly Family Time. We purchased the set of DVDs from What’s in the Bible.

What’s in the Bible is a DVD series from the creative mind of Phil Vischer of Veggie Tales fame. Each DVD comes with two 25 minute sessions that expertly navigates through the stories and big themes of the Bible starting in Genesis. Hillary and I are amazed at the theological depth of the content and yet how it simplifies it for children. And it’s funny! We also like how each DVD comes with a set of questions to ask the kids after each session.

So now we have ten DVDs with 20 sessions that we are going to stretch over the next 20 weeks. And What’s in the Bible is only to the Gospels so there are more DVDs coming over the next few years.

Check out more from What’s in the Bible here and find out who Buck Denver is and why ponies make an entrance into the series. This is a great tool investing spiritually in our children.

Below is the first five minutes of DVD 1 to give you a taste.

Celebrating Advent as a Family

From Advent Conspiracy

If your kids are anything like ours, you have to work like crazy to fight against the consumerism of the holidays. Retailers are convincing our children they need the newest toy or electronic device. We can quickly be smothered by consumerism and lose sight of real reason we celebrate this season.

To help our family focus on Christmas and the birth of the Son of God, we intentionally celebrate Advent during the weeks leading up to Christmas. Here are some great resources for celebrating Advent and focusing your family on the birth of Christ:

This December, at Mountair Christian Church we are preaching through the four Advent messages of Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All from Advent Conspiracy.

Here’s a preview of their focus this Advent:

Children and Questioning the Faith

'Questioned Proposal' photo (c) 2008, Ethan Lofton - license:

Ever get stumped by a question from your kids? Questions from our kids can be annoying at times especially when our kids are in the toddler stage. But sometimes the questions our kids ask are an eye into their soul. Asking questions and how we react to their questions is an important part of our child’s faith development.

Our youngest daughter Norah (5) blurted out a question one Sunday after church that just surprised us. We were talking with the girls about communion and what they learned in Children’s Church. Read the rest of this entry

Faith@Home Resources: Kids of Integrity

I’m always on the lookout for great online resources for parents to take an active role in the spiritual development of their children. Recently, I found the Kids of Integrity website and have been returning to it often. Kids of Integrity is a resource from Focus on the Family Canada and is full of great family devotions and activities. I love how their activities and devotions are organized by character trait.

Today our kids headed to a new school and were apprehensive about starting in a new place. We looked at the Kids of Integrity website and chose one of the object lessons on courage and it worked great for what our kids were going through.

Check out Kids of Integrity here.

Find other great Faith@Home resources here.

Jesus is the Vine: Lent Family Devotions


  • Take your children outside or to a park and find a bush or a tree in your hard that is budding for spring
  • What does this plant need to grow?
  • Does this plant produce anything? (flowers, leaves, fruit, etc.)
  • What happens if a branch breaks off? Does it still grow?
  • Today we are going to look at a story in the Bible where Jesus compares us to branches Read the rest of this entry

Jesus is Our Shepherd: Lent Family Devotions for 3/18/2012

This Lent Family Devotion is a big one for our girls. A few weeks ago when we talked about Jesus being the light and turned off the lights in our house, the girls freaked out in fear. They are scared to go back to the laundry room and get their shoes because it is dark back there. We are continually reinforcing the idea that when we are scared we need to pray to God for strength. Read the rest of this entry

Jesus is the Way: Lent Family Devotions for 3/11/2012

Warmup Activity

  • What have we learned about Jesus so far in our family devotions? 
    • You can use the symbol cubes to remind your kids
  • Tonight we are going on a little car trip as part of our devotions and going somewhere new
    • Find a new restaurant or dessert place that your family hasn’t been to
  • Tonight we are going to go to _________. Do you know how to get there? How can we find out how the way to get to there?
  • Go to Google Maps and find the directions to the spot. Print them off and drive to the location. Have one person tell the driver the directions.
  • Once you are there get dessert or food and while you are enjoying, work through the next questions.
  • For us to get to this restaurant, what did we need? (directions)
  • How did the driver know where to go? (they listened to the directions)
  • Tonight we are going to learn about our next symbol and it has something to do with “the path”

The Word

  • Read John 14:2-6
    • “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

      Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

      Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

  • Who is Jesus’ father? 
  • Where is Jesus preparing a place for us?
  • Jesus is the way to who?
  • Just like we needed directions to find this place, we need directions to find God. Jesus says that if we follow him we will find God. We just need to listen to Jesus and he will tell us the way to live.

The Connection

  • What kinds of things distract us from listening to Jesus?
  • Do you think Jesus talks to us? How?
  • Daily application question at dinner: How did you listen to Jesus today?

Symbol Activity

  • What do you think our symbol is today?
  • Now whenever you see this path you can remember that Jesus tells us the way to follow him
  • Color in the path and then we will put the square on our cubes
Here is the design for the cube that can be printed on card stock and cut out.
Here are the symbol cut outs for each week.

Jesus is the Light of the World: Lent Family Devotions for 3/4/2012


Warmup Activity

  • Tonight we are going on a little walk before our family time
  • Light a candle
  • Turn off all the lights in your house
  • Walk around your house with your kids and have them follow you as you hold the candle
  • What was it like walking around the house with just a candle?
  • What would have happened if we didn’t have the candle?
  • Tonight we are going to learn about another statement that Jesus said about himself and it has something to do with this candle

The Word

  • Read John 8:12
    • “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
  • How is Jesus the light of the world?
  • Do you remember a story in the Old Testament about how God made a pillar of fire to show the Israelites where to go in the desert?
  • In the same way Jesus shows us how we can live like him

The Connection

  • What is one thing Jesus gives us as a guidebook to show us how to live like him? (the Bible)
  • How does the Bible show us how to live?
  • Without the Bible and without Jesus we wouldn’t know how to live our lives
  • Application question: What is one way that you can live like Jesus this week?
  • Daily application question at dinner: How did you live like Jesus today?

Symbol Activity

  • What do you think our symbol is today?
  • Now whenever you see this candle you can remember that Jesus shows us we can live like him
  • Color in the candle and then we will put the square on our cubes
Here is the design for the cube that can be printed on card stock and cut out.
Here are the symbol cut outs for each week.