Have you never had to endure a child learning to play the clarinet? It’s pretty awful. It sounds more like a person strangling a duck than anything close to actual music. But that goes with any musical instrument, doesn’t it? To become great at playing an instrument, you need to practice … to rehearse. You need to commit to sticking with it even when you don’t feel like it.
Maybe you’re not really a “music person.” Maybe your interest involves the soccer field or basketball court. Or maybe you find yourself at home on the stage acting or dancing. Whatever your “thing,” you know firsthand that in order to get better—to master your sport or hone your craft—you have to put in the work and practice, practice, practice.
The same is also true for faith. It takes practice to grow and mature in your relationship with God. It takes commitment. That’s why we’re spending the whole month of January to discover how commitment can show up in our lives as we practice our faith.
Commitment is making a plan and putting it into practice.
If we want to know God better, we need to practice our faith. But practicing isn’t something that comes naturally to any of us. That’s why we need a plan. And the best place to start is with spiritual disciplines; or what we call in the Orange world, “faith skills.”
At Orange, we have four faith skills that we think kids need to practice to know God better. We’re taking this month of commitment to dig deeper into these faith skills to help kids get a handle on what it means to practice their faith. We use four simple words to help us remember these skills:
HEAR. PRAY. TALK. LIVE.
Each week this month, we’ll focus on one of the faith skills as we talk about making a plan and putting it into practice.
In Week One, we’ll look at the word Hear. We want kids to learn how to hear from God as they listen to what Jesus said, listen to God’s Word, and His Holy Spirit. For the first week of commitment, kids will focus on navigating and personalizing Scripture as they look at the familiar parable of the wise and foolish builders found in Matthew 7:24-27.
Our Bottom Line is: Practice hearing what God says. We can’t do what God says until we know what God says, and that begins with listening to God.
For Week Two, we’ll discover more about what it means to Pray. We want kids to understand that praying is an important part of growing in their faith. They can pray knowing that God knows them and wants to hear from them. They can pray with gratitude and honesty; pray for their needs and for forgiveness. They can pray anytime, anywhere because God is always listening. That’s why we’ll look more closely at Luke 11:1-4 and the way Jesus taught His followers how to pray in the Lord’s Prayer.
Our Bottom Line is: Practice praying to God. We hope kids will come to believe that they can share anything with God. There’s nothing too big or too small for Him to handle.
Our faith skill for Week Three is Talk. We can actually get to know God better by talking about Him with others. But this isn’t just about talking about Jesus with people who don’t know Him yet. There’s also another important aspect of talking about God. As kids process their growing faith, they will have questions and doubts. We want kids to know that they can talk about God and work through their questions with others who also believe in Jesus. We’ll spend time in Matthew 16:13-20 and look at the moment when Peter declared what he believed about Jesus in front of all the disciples.
Our Bottom Line is: Practice talking about God. We can all share our story of faith with confidence knowing that Jesus is who He said He is.
We’ll wrap up the month with the faith skill Live. We know that most kids love to sing and worship God. But worship isn’t just something we do when we sing at church; worship is really how we honor God with our whole lives—through how we love others and serve them, and how we obey and praise God, or how we make time to rest. “Live”is also about giving of our time, money, and talents.
That’s why we’re looking at the story of the widow’s offering in Mark 12:41-44. There were people giving lots of money, but Jesus knew that the two coins the widow gave meant more because they were everything she had.
Our Bottom Line is: Practice living for God. We hope kids realize they can worship God every day with whatever they’re doing, no matter what they have.
During the month, we’ll memorize a great verse that reminds us about the importance of making a commitment to practice our faith. 1 Timothy 4:8a says: “Training the body has some value. But being godly has value in every way.” When we commit to practicing our faith and follow through on our plan, we’ll grow in such a way that will impact our entire lives.
Remember, as we unpack these four faith skills, not only this month but every week
in Small Group and at home, we’re giving kids an opportunity to develop these skills over time so when they grow older, they will understand what it means to be the church, and understand how to work, live, and move in their relationship with Jesus Christ.
We can’t wait to see what God will do in the lives of kids and families this month as we commit to practice our faith and grow in our relationship with God.
By Dan Scott ©2014 The reThink Group. All rights reserved. www.ThinkOrange.com *Used by permission.