Church #40. Meet Inese Dahl. She is the Director of Christian Education at St Paul Lutheran Church, School and Childcare in McAllen, Texas. This congregation has an average worship attendance of 400 on a given Sunday.
In honor of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, St Paul has adopted FAITH5 household devotions. (Shout out to Rich Melheim as the creator of FAITH5!) As they put it, “Martin Luther had a passion of putting the Bible into the hands of the people and helping them to understand scripture themselves. In that same Spirit, St Paul’s is using FAITH5 to help connect people to God’s word, life application, prayer, and faith practice.” Later, FAITH5 became an integral part of the monthly FAITH @ HOME devotional kits.
What do the devotionals look-like?
Instructions: MONTH OF AUGUST
These devotionals are based around the Sunday readings and are packaged in a donut box. Each month, families with children are invited to take these devotions home. Each box includes a FAITH5 bookmark with the reading and activities that target a variety of learning styles. Activities include art projects, questions, videos to watch, scavenger hunts, baking together, and songs. Everything families need to interact with the devotional kit is included from supplies to instructions. (They package around 40 kits each month with almost all of them taken!)
Why a donut box?
Dahl’s first attempt in creating take home devotionals started out as a weekly packet. But what Dahl quickly learned was that families are not at church every week, and so they moved to once a month donut box. Dahl said, “The donuts box has a clear lid. Kids, parents, and grandparents can see into the box and are immediately drawn in. What’s in the box captures their attention from the get-go!”
Who packs all the boxes?
Dahl remarked that she and another lay leader decide and purchase together what is needed for the FAITH @ HOME devotionals. But it is the older church members who pack and prepare the boxes, and then they pray over them.
Why is this ministry in particular?
- It’s about the roles! At St. Paul’s, we believe that the most effective way to impact a child’s walk with Jesus is through their parents. Parents need to see their role as the ones who form faith in the home. The congregation’s role is to walk beside parents encouraging them and providing resources to raise their child(ren) in faith.
- It’s about investing in what’s important! Dahl said that parents were willing to do the faith forming work at home. St Paul’s did their work in creating simple tools to assist the families. You don’t need a MDIV to do FAITH @ HOME boxes – Everyone is a theologian!
- It’s about the relationships! FAITH @ HOME devotions get not only parents and grandparents talking with (grand)kids, but the devos get families connecting and talking and praying to God.
How are these devotionals used as an outreach tool?
Dahl said, “At our church, we have both a childcare and a school. We have currently started giving the FAITH @ HOME devotions to our childcare families, and they love it! Hopefully, one day we will share them with the school. We also have grandparents using these boxes with their grandkids – kids who might not go to church but love learning with Grandma or Grandpa!
Why does this ministry matter? It matters because of what is written in Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.
This text makes it clear that parents should teach their children about God through daily life activities. It helps us realize that every house is the Lord’s house as he is invited and present into our daily life and activities. The most important thing God’s people can know is that God is with us when we rise, when we sleep, when we walk along the road, and sit at home, and that is what makes all of our life moments sacred.
For more information on this story, please contact Inese Dahl at 956-682-2345 or firstname.lastname@example.org.