Decorate a glass jar and place it in a special spot in your home. Cut patterned papers into strips, giving family members their own pattern. Starting this January, fill the jar with love notes, Bible verses, quotes, and affirmations for each person. On Valentine’s Day, read the notes as a family. Carry on the tradition at regular intervals all year long to keep everyone’s “encouragement tanks” topped off.
“Acts” of Encouragement
Beforehand, brainstorm situations where kids and adults might need encouragement (for example, taking a test, feeling sick, being new to a class or job). Write each one on a slip of paper. Then play Encouragement Charades. The person who picks a slip acts out that situation. The first person to guess it then acts out a way to offer encouragement. (Speaking is allowed for that part!)
Be a Barnabas
Form pairs. Give each pair a book. Have one partner walk across a room and back with a book balanced on their head. Have the other partner walk along and offer encouragement. Then change roles. Afterward, ask: “How did it feel to have someone there all the time encouraging you?” Read aloud Acts 11:22-24. Ask: “What types of encouragement did Barnabas offer? What made him such a good encourager? What types of encouragement do you need most? In what ways can you encourage other people?”
God Uses You!
Encourage family members by reminding them that God chooses and works through them. Say: “In the Bible, God chooses ordinary people for special tasks. David, a shepherd boy, defeated the giant Goliath and later became king. Mary, a teenage girl, became baby Jesus’ mother. Let’s see how God makes these choices.” Read aloud 1 Samuel 16:7. Ask: “What do you think God cares about? Why do you think God works through average, ordinary people? How does that encourage you to listen to and serve God?”
Say: “Family members are special encouragers to one another, as we see in the Bible. When Mary hears she’s going to have baby Jesus, she visits her cousin Elizabeth.” Read aloud Luke 1:39-45. Ask: “How might Elizabeth have made Mary feel? What is it like when someone encourages you? What kinds of encouragement can we give each other?” Pray, asking God for help to encourage one another—especially family members.