One of God’s desires was for the family to be a primary setting for conversations about faith – a safe place to ask questions, pray, and learn from each other.
Preteens might feel uncomfortable or embarrassed to talk about their relationship with God within their family unit.
But when students realize God placed them in their family, with a unique group of people who love them no matter what, it gives them the freedom to share what’s in their heart and on their mind.
Use this preteen lesson to remind students that God has given us our position within our earthly families for a purpose.
- Nick Diliberto, Preteen Ministry
PRETEEN MINISTRY LESSON ON FAMILY
Written by Stef Litzler
Bible: Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 2 Timothy 1:5; 1 John 3:1
Bottom Line: God has given us our position within our earthly families for a purpose.
- Name tag labels
- Painter’s tape or masking tape
OPENING GAME: FAMILY REUNION
Write different family roles or identifiers on name tags.
Start with the list below:
- Grandmother (x2)
- Grandfather (x2)
- Aunt (x2)
- Uncle (x2)
- Cousin (x2)
- Great grandmother (x4)
- Great grandfather (x4)
Sizes of groups may vary, and you can adjust your family tree accordingly.
For example: Add a cousin or brother, remove a great grandmother or uncle (you may also play with more than one team)
Make a line with painter’s tape or masking tape to signify the “ground” of the tree.
HOW TO PLAY THE GAME
Say: Today we are going to play a game called the “Family Tree Challenge."
Each of you will be given a different family role on your back.
The first part of our game will operate much like “Who Am I."
You will go around the room asking someone “yes” or “no” questions to figure out who you are.
Feel free to provide an example.
Once everyone has figured out their identity, then you will cooperate as a group to create a family tree.
Make sure the youngest in the family tree starts at the “ground” line and the tree moves back from there.
Once you think you have the tree accurately completed, everyone yell “We are family”!
If you have more than one team, then the first team to create their family tree yells “we are family.”
Say: We played the “Family Tree Challenge” because we are going to talk about the importance of family.
God has given us each an earthly family.
Our families come from different traditions and backgrounds.
Some families have lived in this city for generations.
Other families moved here from somewhere else.
Some families sit down and eat dinner together every night.
Other families have activity-filled evenings with a quick bite.
Some families have LOTS of kids in them.
Other families have just one child.
Some families love playing games together.
Other families enjoy doing individual activities.
Some families have a mom and a dad in the house.
Others have had single parent homes.
Some families have grandparents that are close by or live in the home.
Other families have grandparents that live far away.
Some families eat Stouffer’s lasagna.
Other families have a special homemade lasagna recipe.
And others don’t even like lasagna!
No matter the family dynamics, God has a purpose for His design for each family.
He gives us family to strengthen us, to challenge us, and to encourage us.
Our families are part of our story.
Our families aren’t perfect.
They make mistakes.
Our families help us to begin to learn how to deal with difficult relationships.
But more than anything else, our families are an opportunity for us to learn to love others well.
Let’s read about a part of a family tree.
Read 2 Timothy 1:1-5
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.
Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”
Say: The Apostle Paul is writing a letter to Timothy, who has stayed in Ephesus to help the church.
One of the neat things about this introduction is that Paul recognizes the importance family plays in the role of his faith and Timothy’s faith.
Paul says that he serves God and that his ancestors did as well!
When Paul remembers Timothy’s faith, he is reminded of Timothy’s family.
Timothy’s mother, Eunice, had sincere faith.
Timothy’s grandmother, Lois, had sincere faith.
Now, Timothy is a man of sincere faith.
We are all influenced by the faith of our families.
Not all, but most of us here today are here because someone in our family brought us.
However, at some point, our faith must become our own.
Just because Timothy’s mom and grandmother spoke about God, doesn’t necessarily mean that Timothy would grow to follow God.
Timothy made his own decision to follow Jesus and help Paul in strengthening the church.
Yet, Timothy’s family setting was important.
One of God’s desires was for the family to be a primary setting for conversations about faith.
“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.”
From what we know about Timothy and his mother and grandmother, it is likely that their family took these commandments seriously.
I can imagine Lois sharing God’s greatness with Eunice.
And then, because of Eunice’s conversations and experiences, I can imagine her sharing her stories of faith with Timothy.
Deuteronomy tells us that it's important to love God and talk about His commands and desires for us.
We should talk about God in our homes.
We should talk about God at our tables.
We should talk about God at bedtime.
We should talk about God in our cars or on our way to and from activities.
Yet, how often do we actually have faith conversations with our family?
Sometimes we find it easier to talk about friends.
Sometimes we talk about school projects or assignments.
Sometimes we talk about things happening in the world or in culture.
Sometimes we just talk about what we want for dinner or what’s on TV that night!
You may not come from a family that talks about God, and that’s ok.
But what if we could be the beginning of change in our family conversations.
What if we understood the importance of God’s love for us and just HAD to have conversations about Him with the people we love.
I imagine that is what happened with Timothy.
He grew up in an environment of faith conversations, and now He is helping others have faith conversations.
Paul is so impressed by Timothy’s faith and appreciates the family that God gave Timothy.
Some of you may be thinking, “That’s great, but what about families that don’t know God?”
Maybe there’s someone who doesn’t come from a family who believes in Jesus.
Or maybe there’s someone that doesn’t have much of an earthly family at all.
God’s design is perfect.
He wants us to be part of the family of God.
He wants us to have brothers and sisters in Christ.
He wants us to call Him “Father."
Read 1 John 3:1.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”
Our earthly families all take different shapes.
That’s not necessarily a negative thing.
Different families will encounter God in different ways and will have a different understanding of their faith.
But most importantly, we should remember that God has invited us to be part of His family.
The Bible says that God loved us and made a way for us to be HIS children.
He adopted us.
He chose us.
He wants us.
He loves us.
As part of God’s family, we can love others well.
We carry each other’s burdens.
We serve together.
We help heal brokenness.
We eat together.
We pray together.
We call each other brother and sister.
Say: Earlier, we read Paul’s letter to Timothy.
When Paul addresses Timothy, he calls him “my dear son."
Paul is like a father to Timothy.
Paul is mentoring Timothy and encouraging him in his faith.
Now as you probably know from your own earthly family, sometimes the people closest to us are the most difficult to love.
And at times, the family of God will feel that way.
You’ll disagree with someone who is your brother and sister in Christ.
But remember that they are family and God calls us to love our families.
I don’t know what each of your families looks like.
I don’t know how God determined the make-up of our families.
However, I do know that God has placed you in the family He has given you for a purpose.
You are important to your earthly family.
Be a part of the change in your family dynamics.
You may be a preteen, but you can still set an example in faith!
Don’t be afraid to talk about faith when you are with your family.
Read God’s Word.
Pray for your family.
But more importantly, know that you are not alone.
No matter the make-up of your family, you have a Heavenly Father that LOVES you and wants to call you “child."
Close in prayer.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
- How many of you have ever created a family tree?
- Do you know much about your ancestors and the generations that came before you?
- Is your family close to a family that is different from yours? If so, what makes your families different?
- What is your favorite thing about your earthly family? Least favorite?
- Do you find it easy to talk about God with your family? Why or why not?
- If you find it easy to talk about God with your family, where and when do you usually have these faith conversations?
- Who, in your family, do you enjoy talking with the most? What do you usually discuss?
- Do you often use the term “Father” when you address God? Why or why not?
- If you are part of God’s family, what is your favorite thing about having a spiritual family? Would you want to invite someone into that family?
- What can you do this week to love your earthly family? What can you do this week to love the family of God?
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