Each year I try to think of new ways I can incorporate the season of Lent into our activities at church.
In the past, I have written Lenten curriculum for our Sunday school classes, incorporated Lenten practices into children’s worship and offered Lenten calendars with daily activities and prayers.
Teaching children about the season of Lent can be difficult, and I have found that keeping it simple always helps. This year I will be doing something very different.
We are having “Children’s Day” on Sunday, March 2, and my focus for this special Sunday will be to prepare children and their parents for the upcoming season of Lent.
During the Sunday school hour, I will have all of our families gather for an intergenerational lesson, which will focus on three main points for Lenten preparation.
First, I will give a simple definition for the season of Lent, such as, “it is the 40 days of preparation for Easter.”
I plan to use the Winter Olympic Games as an example of the importance of preparation. Specific stories from the Olympics will be chosen as illustrations.
Significant days of Lent, such as Ash Wednesday, will be mentioned also, to clarify the length of the season.
Second, I will explain the importance of Lent in strengthening our relationship with God.
Continuing with the Olympic Games theme, I will point out the many new friendships that were formed during the preparation for and participation in the competitions.
I will explain that spending time with our friends helps us to get closer to them, and spending time with God strengthens our relationship and brings us closer to him.
The families will then be asked to reflect on the question, “How do we spend time with God?”
Each family will have paper on the table for them to develop a list of ways we spend time with God. A time for sharing will be given afterward; responses may include prayer, reading the Bible, worship, helping others and so on.
Finally, I will discuss the importance of sacrifice.
Again, I will use the Olympic Games as a reference. As I encourage the children to think about the sacrifice the athletes make to train for competition, I will remind them of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Focusing on the meaning of sacrifice will allow me to encourage children to take time to refocus their minds and thoughts on God during the season of Lent. My ultimate goal is to teach them to turn to God to help them through the sacrifice.
We will discuss ways people may sacrifice during Lent by giving up something or giving to help someone.
At this point, each family will have a working list of ways they can spend time with God, so I will invite each family to think of things they can do as a family to enhance their list. For example, they could:
â— Use video game time one day to pray
â— Invite a neighbor or a stranger to worship with them
â— Help others by volunteering to feed the hungry
â— Donate unused toys to a shelter
It is important to help children understand that Lent is not only about giving something up, but also giving of themselves in new, refreshing ways.
I will conclude by sharing that as we prepare for the season of Lent, it is important to remember that God’s sacrifice of his son, Jesus Christ, was done completely out of love for us.
By spending more time with God, we learn how to love as he has loved us. By giving of ourselves we learn how to share his love.
During this season of Lent, we can all find ways to model for our children the importance of taking the time to sacrifice of ourselves in order to share God’s love with others.
Bridgette Poag is the director of ministries to children and their families at the First Baptist Church of Dalton, Ga.
Editor’s note: “Eyeing Easter, Walking through Lent,” EthicsDaily.com’s eight-week Lenten Bible study curriculum, is available here.