Do you remember when you first heard your baby giggle? Or when a game of chase or peekaboo or tickle-the-toes turned your toddler into a bubbling heap of hysterical laughter?
The God who presides over this universe is no stranger to hilarity.
If you’ve watched a kitten tumble and flip, trying to catch her own tail, or seen dolphins playing, you’ll know that fun is everywhere. It was God’s idea. God made fun.
The early church leader, James (possibly Jesus’ own brother) said this about the good things in life:
‘Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.’
So how do we make sure our kids know that God is part of everything good, not just the serious parts of life?
You might already have a family habit of thanking God for things. Maybe you say ‘grace’ at mealtimes and thank God for food. Maybe you thank God at bedtime for the important people in your children’s lives.
Each night in bed, we say ‘ta, God’ with our toddler, and we tend to start with reviewing the day. We say ‘ta, God’ for all the things in the day, definitely including the fun parts. Thank you, God, for the fun we had visiting Jack. Thank you, God, for the slide at the playground.
You might like to add the phrase, ‘Thank you, God, for fun!’ to your conversations throughout the day, too. When you’re in the middle of a tickle-fest or playing cars with your kids, you could just say it as part of the enjoyment of the moment. This kind of language helps kids realise that God is in every moment of their day, God cares about each thing they do and they can talk to God anytime at all.
As well as saying out loud what we might know inside – that God is part of all the fun our kids have – we can include fun things in our kids’ weeks that are specifically connected to God.
Are there particular times in the day or week that you and your kids focus on God especially? Do you pray when you eat or go to bed? Do you read Bible stories together? Do you or they go to church or a children’s programme with a God focus? Do you sing God songs? If you think about all the moments in your child’s week where God is openly mentioned or addressed, make sure there are some good fun ones in the mix.
Here are five ideas for having fun with God to get you started. Please add more ideas in the comments below!
1 – Fun Grace Before Meals
Sometimes, sing or chant a fun ‘grace’ instead of saying one. If you don’t know any, ask a teenager who has been to youth group camps (or check out some examples here, here, and here).
Most churchy people will know Thank you, Lord for Giving Us Food or the Superman Grace but my favourite is a chant (with finger-clicking) by Linnea Good called Banquet Earth Grace:
Chapati! Chapati! Puri and rice!
Burrito, taquito, spaghetti and spice!
Dim sum, egg foo yung
Two all-beef patties, special sauce on a bun!
Hands across the table,
Hands across the sea,
Sharing in the banquet of the Earth!
2 – Balloon Thanks
Blow up some balloons. On each one, write or draw something that you and your kids can thank God for. Then have a great time batting them around the lounge or bedroom. Try and keep them all of the floor at once – guaranteed hilarity!
3 – Make Some Flowers (like God did!)
Cut some flowers out of coloured cardboard. You could write or draw things on the flowers that you’re grateful for, or you could write kind words on each one about a particular person who needs cheering up, attach sticks or straws to them, and present your friend with a bunch of flowers to make their day.
4 – Kindness is Fun
Give a love-thy-neighbour God-dimension to your next craft or baking session. Think together of someone you could give muffins or a card to and go to it.
5 – Shake it out!
If singing and dancing are part of your household repertoire – or maybe if they’re not, yet! – see if you can add in some fun action songs with spiritual themes. YouTube is full of examples, from classics like If I Were a Butterfly to newer ones you might not have learnt at Sunday School.
What fun things do you and your family get up to? What ideas can you share with us that help kids connect God and fun?