Attending church on Sunday evenings was the norm for my family throughout my childhood and teen years.
Every so often, the pastor called for “popcorn testimonies” from the congregation. A brave soul would stand up, briefly (ie: 2-3 sentences) tell about a recently answered prayer or something that the Lord had been teaching them, and then call out someone else’s name. The person named would stand up and do the same. This process lasted only a minute or two, but it made an eternal impact on my impressionable heart.
Those brief stories taught me that God was real and actively involved in the lives of those who follow Him. They encouraged me to pray and believe that God would hear and answer me just as He heard and answered the grown-ups in my church. They played a significant role in laying a strong foundation for my faith.
Scripture tells us that faith stories are important for our children to hear:
“I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deed of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders. For he issues his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them—even the children not yet born—and they in turn will teach their own children. So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands” (Psalm 78:2-7 NLT, emphasis mine).
Statistics show an alarming trend within our churches today: Kids growing up in Christian homes are walking away from the faith in droves. Why? There are probably several reasons including media influence and secular teaching in public schools. But perhaps there’s more. Maybe they’re not consistently hearing faith stories—up-to-date testimonies of God’s power and faithfulness in the lives of those who follow Him.
Canadians will celebrate Thanksgiving a week from today. Americans will celebrate next month. This season provides the perfect opportunity to kickstart the intentional telling of faith stories within our families.
Why not do popcorn testimonies for a minute or two on Thanksgiving Day? Let the kids hear about how God has answered a prayer this year, provided for a specific need, or sent an encouragement your way at exactly the right moment. Invite them to participate with their own short stories. I guarantee you’ll have a great time.
But don’t stop with Thanksgiving Day. Perhaps you can incorporate popcorn testimonies into your family on a regular basis. Make it a Sunday lunch tradition to recall God’s faithfulness throughout the previous week. Or make it a part of a monthly family fun night. Or something you do when you take a road trip together. Find something that works for your family, and then be consistent.
Faith stories make a difference. Let’s take advantage of their influence. Let’s stoke the fire of the next generation’s faith by recalling God’s goodness to us.
Question: What faith stories can you tell to your kids or grandkids, or to your nieces and nephews this Thanksgiving season?