Flip-flop summer faith

May 29, 2018 7:00:00 AM / by Christy Olson

Footprints in the sand on a beach | Sparkhouse Blog

Ah ... the time of year when flip-flops call to your feet. Sunny summer, the feel of breezes, the smell of suntan lotion. And for parents, maybe a little bit of “YIKES...the kids are home for three months!” They’re wondering how they can keep those child-sized flip-flops walking forward in faith. You’re the person with the tips and tricks to help kids’ summer faith come alive.

Faith formation in the summer

Sue Lennartson wrote a book many years ago called “Schools Out, Church is In.” This book put forward the wonderful gift of summer for faith communities. There is much you can do at church and families can do at home to encourage kids to take their summer faith on a daily journey.

Here are three opportunities for summer faith formation that you can try on or share with the families of your students:

Mission work

The word Mission has changed in meaning and action. Once, faithful people took the church to other places. Today, mission can be close to home. Help kids and their families see that mission happens everyday in every way. You could have a weekly “Mission Day” theme in your Sunday school, preschool Sunday school, or youth group class. Or encourage families to have Mission Day once a week. Possible focuses and activities include:

  • Mission "Help”: The goal of this mission focus is simple. Find one or more people that need help and help them. This could involve opening doors for others for a day (maybe at church!) or helping a neighbor unpack groceries. Kids will feel good about participating in the faithful call to help others. Helping gives us a peaceful heart.
  • Mission "Sidewalk": The goal of this activity is to take back that human invention called sidewalks that connects neighbors. Often dirty and cracked, kids can pull grass or sweep dirt to spread love and care in your church community or in their neighborhood.

Three kids run outside | Sparkhouse Blog

Dancing and singing

These forms of creative expression also offer opportunities for kids to find faith in summer. Kids can create around faith words such as community, holy, prayer, altar, worship, or healing. Here are some more specific ideas to encourage them:

  • Dancing in free form is extra special with scarves, fans, or bells. Encourage kids to choose a faith word from above to create a dance. Or they can dance to something from nature (wind, rain, mud). Dancing with a friend doubles the fun. Introduce this as a class activity or encourage parents to have kids try it out on a play date.
  • Singing is easier for kids than it seems to be for adults. Ask kids to sing a favorite nursery rhyme. Then, have them create new verses to the known tune about a faith word. We call this a "piggyback" song because the new words are playing piggyback on the old tune. Or have kids write a rap or chant about the word. Have them perform the song for others—your church community or their friends and family—to pass on faith.

Faith Walks

A great choice for a frequent family outing. Walks taken at different times of the day change the faith discoveries by kids. These tips will help families maximize the experience and make it a fun summer activity:

  • Make frequent stops on the walk using keywords. Say, "Popsicle," and kids will freeze like this favorite summer treat. Or use the word "twirl," and kids will twirl around. When you say stop, they should hold their position and try to continue walking. Ask families to notice what happens when kids continue to stop in different positions and places. Are they opening up emotionally, energetically, spiritually? What kind of observations do they make about their surroundings when they take frequent stops?
  • Listening is a skill for kids and adults of all ages. Being still and listening can be directly connected to the ability to hear our faith. We hear our faith in nature, in conversations and in movements around us. Encourage families to frequently ask kids what they hear on their walks.


While you are wearing those fun summer flip-flops, switch your emphasis to daily faith formation for kids and families. Daily doses of faith experiences will help kids discover that faith happens all the time—no matter what the season.

Topics: Children Ministry

Christy Olson

Written by Christy Olson

Christy lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where she and her husband have retired. But a writer never retires! She continues to freelance, and blogs for the UUA. Her ministry joys include 20 years at three congregations doing children's and family ministry, writing for four different denominations, doing workshops (see her Faith Gardener website), teaching at Luther Seminary, getting her M.A. in Theology, and consulting with churches about ministry challenges.


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