Up, In & Out Triangle Craft

What’s the first picture of Jesus you can remember seeing as a kid?  Was it a classic painting like DaVinci’s Last Supper or a coloring sheet from Vacation Bible School?  What did Jesus look like in the picture?  Happy or sad?  Friendly or scary?  Did Jesus look like someone you’d want to know?

As parents who follow Jesus, one of our biggest responsibilities is painting a clear and compelling picture of Jesus to our kids.  Not literally, of course, but by the way we live. Kids need an example of Jesus they can imitate, and they need simple language to help them understand how they can live out that example in everyday life.

One tool that’s been helpful in our home is called the Triangle.  There’s nothing magic about it.  It’s just another picture of the life of Jesus that all ages can understand and imitate.  For a quick overview of the Triangle, check out this earlier post.

One of the ways we’ve used this with our kids is by making a paper pyramid we keep on our dinner table.

This pyramid craft has been a great tool to get us talking about what following Jesus looks like in everyday life.  It was so simple even my six-year-old caught on right away.

1. Start by printing out a paper pyramid template.  You can find a variety of them online, but I used this one from Strorycraft.com because it looked simple but sturdy.

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2. Next, write the words “UP, IN and OUT” in the three corners of the triangle on the pyramid template.  As you write each one, explain to your kids that Jesus had three sets of friendships, UP with His Father in Heaven (praying, getting up early to go spend time with Him), IN with His friends who loved God (ask if they remember the names of any of Jesus’ friends) and reaching OUT to those who didn’t know God yet (give them some examples, Zacchaeus, the woman at the well, etc.)

3. Now, let them take turns writing UP, IN and OUT on the blank sides of the pyramid template.

  • Ask them what pictures they think of that would be good reminders of how Jesus lived UP, IN & OUT and let them draw one of those pictures on each side triangle of the pyramid.
  • Talk about why they chose those images.

Here were the pictures my kids chose to draw:

  • UP – a brown cross to remind us of God’s love for us and a yellow picture of Jesus (He’s the star) ascending through the clouds to go back to the Father (the diamond my daughter drew above Him).
  • IN – a red heart to remind us to love others.
  • OUT – a blue circle to remind us that God is everywhere in the world.

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4. Once the craft is done, ask your kids for examples of how your family does UP, IN & OUT.

  • Which ones do you do a lot?
  • In which area do you need to grow?
  • Choose one practical thing you can do to take a step in that area this week.

Both of my kids gave great examples.  Last year, when my oldest daughter was in public school, she recognized we were doing a ton of UP and OUT but weren’t spending much time living IN community with other believers.  So we prayed about that and began to devoting more intentional time for community with other families.

This year we’ve transferred to a wonderful Christian school and are strong in UP and IN but not spending much time reaching OUT.   So my kids decided we would continue to pray for God to send us people outside the church to love  (what we call people of peace) and in the mean time we could make some cards for some friends who don’t know Jesus.

5. Once you’re finished, use the pyramid as a centerpiece for your dining room table and take some time once a week over dinner to review your previous week and where you can focus for the week to come.  Over time you’ll begin to see that you’re painting a beautiful picture of the life of Jesus that your entire family can imitate together.

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For a more in-depth look at the Triangle and other LifeShapes, check out the book Building a Discipling Culture by 3DM Publishing.

Take a Step to Help Your Family Grow in the New Year

grow Photo Credit: snlsn via Compfight cc

This is the time of year when many of us go crazy setting goals for our health, our job and our finances.  But what about for our families?   Do we spend as much time thinking about our family’s spiritual health as we do thinking about how to lose those extra holiday pounds?

If our 2015 goals don’t include what we’re going to do to help our kids grow in their faith, then we need to rethink our priorities.   No other goal has as much long-term payoff as helping our kids to follow Jesus.

So, where do we start?  Just start by taking a step.  Take a look at the life of Jesus.  He invested most of His time in three sets of relationships.

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Up: Jesus had an intimate relationship with His Father God.  Throughout the gospels we see Him sneaking off to be alone with His Dad in heaven.  Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).  As believers we get to share in this intimacy.

In: Jesus had a relationship with the family of God, the disciples.  In John 13:35 Jesus set the pattern for relationships with other believers when He said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Out:  Jesus constantly reached out to those in world who didn’t yet know God.  Think about Zacchaeus and the woman at the well.  In Luke 19:10, when Jesus said that He’d “come to seek and save the lost,” He wasn’t kidding.

As followers of Jesus it’s our job to copy to the life of Jesus by living a balanced spiritual life up, in and out, or as we say at my church, doing life with Jesus, in community, on mission.

As parents, our role is to help our kids imitate the life of Jesus as well.  So look at these three areas for your family.  Is your family living up, in and out?  Which areas are you strong in?  Where do you need to grow?

Just pick one and take a step.

We can’t change everything next year.   But do you know what we can do?  We can change ONE thing.

So what’s your one step?

Is it starting a family devotional time?  It is committing to praying with your spouse for your kids once a week?  It is guarding family dinner time so you have a chance to connect once a day?  Is it finding an opportunity to serve as a family?  Is it inviting other believers into your home so your kids can see what friendships of faith look like?

Whatever it is, just do it.  Just take a step.  Make one degree of change.  Do one thing different and watch what God will do!

P.S.  If you’d like to get started with a family devotional time in the new year, here’s one I wrote you can download for free.

You can get more spiritual parenting tips and family devotionals for your new year by subscribing here.