A View from the Pew: 5 Ways to Spiritually Prepare for the Back-to-School Season

Loading up on school supplies and restocking closets aren’t the only ways to prepare for back-to-school. For those of us in church, this annual event can provide meaningful opportunities to establish or reset our approach to faith that makes us better followers of Christ and church members.

1. Take advantage of routine. Summer can be an unstructured time in which our spiritual disciplines fall by the wayside. When you begin each day at a specific time, build in your daily devotions from the start. Even rising just 15 minutes earlier will create space in your schedule for prayer and reflection. The same can be true for your children as well. By adding a moment in the morning or before bed to inject Christ, you are giving them tools that will serve them well into adulthood.

2. Talking along the way. For parents, back-to-school means back to running the taxi service. No matter what your child’s age, they are inevitably involved in a number of activities that require you to drive them. And if you get the added bonus of being able to take them or pick them up from school, you have been given the perfect opportunity to strengthen your relationship and engage in meaningful dialogue. You can use this time to move beyond the “Did you finish your homework?” or “Did you have a good day?” questions and ask “Do you feel prepared to face the day?” or “How do you think God was able to use you at school today?” This principle goes all the way back to Deuteronomy and still has power for your family today.

3. Apply what you learn. Assuming we are all lifelong learners and can go “back to school” at any time, be sure to grasp that your own learning is not solely academic. We are intended to put our spiritual learning into practice as much or more than the rules of comma usage, the quadratic formula, and the amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Application should be the goal whether it’s our own quiet time or weekly Bible study, and if we’re truly helping our children, we can help them process their spiritual growth and development by getting them to think about how sermons or Sunday school lessons apply to their daily lives. School is a helpful metaphor.

4. Prioritize. Sitting in a youth committee meeting this week reminded me of how difficult planning anything can be these days. Our children are over-programmed and, by the time they get to high school, they are managing very full lives. Start by prioritizing worship and personal faith formation for yourself. By starting and ending your day with prayer and reflection, you are setting that priority. Be sure to share it with your children so they know it is a priority for you. And, as mentioned above, you can take advantage of the school routine to implant these as priorities for them. By all means, make sure weekly church participation is a priority. So much happens at church that you cannot replicate for your children outside of that faith community.

5. Build a balanced schedule. Back-to-school means back-to-everything – homework, sports, band, scouts, clubs, performances, trips, games, socializing. It’s dizzying. For you and your children, make sure the schedule is balanced with rest and restoration. This isn’t just a weekly day of rest. It’s also a daily enforcement of bed times and occasionally saying “no” to an activity because it’s just too much. Now is the time to think about balance in your schedule. It’s going to be a long nine months, and you will need to have balance all along the way.

May the Lord richly bless you and your families as you head back to school. If you have specific strategies that help you make the adjustment, please leave a comment and share with all of us.

Lance Wallace is a Baptist layperson and member of Parkway Baptist Church in Johns Creek, GA, does media relations and issues management at his day job, and blogs at newsouthessays.com.

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