The Sabbath and Children
I am often asked about children and the Sabbath. Children have all this energy – What do we do with it? One really important key to resolving this question is to make sure your children get plenty of physical activity during the week. Most children in America do not get enough physical activity. They are kept boxed in school, after school, or daycare programs. Children need to run off that excess energy. Make sure on Friday before sunset that you take them outside and run them around. Have them ride bicycles or do something really physical. Make it fun and exciting; make it a competition! Keep score with who wins. Be creative in this area. There are ways to siphon off that energy before sunset on Friday.
As for the Sabbath, keep in mind the main reason God set it apart is to honor and spend time with Him. A sub-reason for the Sabbath is to spend quality time with the family. So, we learn to spend time with the family to the extent we bond with them. We also want to honor God. During the week you might have to put on that Veggie Tales video to entertain and educate them. On the Sabbath, change it up and do some interactive things with them.
Picture books are great; children love pictures and illustrations. You can always take a family walk with them. Play “gettings” with the children where you tickle them. Kids also love arts and crafts. For example, you could build a small model of Noah’s Ark. Make puppets with them and do a puppet show based on Bible stories. Make them tell the story back to you to test their retention and track their learning curve. You can make finger puppets (even with popsicle sticks). This will help them to learn about the Bible and have fun at the same time.
Of course, you can pray with your children and read the Bible with them. As the old saying goes: “The family that prays together stays together.” You can always come up with Bible lessons tailored towards children. You could even have Sabbath school at home before church. Christian Education Ministries (CEM) is a great ministry to order children’s material from.
This will teach them to look forward to the Sabbath as a time when they get interactive, quality time with their family. This will further instill a greater lesson about spending interactive time with the Heavenly Father and the Family of God.
Many of the ideas in this article came from Bill and Lanice Shults, who raised two daughters in the Sabbath.