Looking for a way to focus your kids’ hearts on Jesus during Lent and Easter this year? Choose one or two ideas from this list of simple Lent ideas for Christian families.
I didn’t grow up observing Lent. I didn’t really even know what Lent was until I was an adult. If you, like me, need an overview of what Lent is, here’s your crash course.
What is Lent?
Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lent is the (roughly) 6-week period of time prior to Easter where we focus on drawing near to God and seeking him more earnestly.
Mirroring Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, Lent is a 40 day period of time from Ash Wednesday to the day before Easter. Sundays are not included in Lent, as they are considered a day of celebration and remembering Christ’s sacrifice for us.
Many people do not realize that Lent is not in the Bible. Rather, it is a tradition that began early in church history that has been carried on by various denominations.
For many, the focus of Lent has been to give up something, to pray more, and to give to others. Of course those are good things, but if we do those things simply for the sake of tradition or penance or earning favor, we do them all in vain.
The real intention of Lent is repentance and turning back to God with our whole hearts. Lent is a time to consider where we’ve allowed our hearts, minds, or actions to move away from God, and take on the habits and disciplines that will help us realign our lives with His will.
If you’re considering participating in Lent, I encourage you to consider these 3 questions before committing to a Lenten practice.
Still wondering about the history of Lent? Find out more here.
Lent Ideas for Christian Families
In the list below, you’ll find lots of ideas for observing Lent and celebrating Easter with your family. May this be a time for all of us of not simply doing one more thing but of turning our hearts toward Jesus!
–> Clean on the Inside :: Family Devotional
Clean on the Inside a few years ago to give families a practical tool to draw near to Jesus in the week leading up to Holy Week.
As my kids have grown older, I’ve found that we get the most out of this family devotional when we turn it into the basis of our family nights and do one per week, with the final day on Resurrection Sunday. Every day of the devotion includes a Bible passage (and supplemental passages), discussion questions, application questions & activities for kids and for adults, and a Scripture memory verse. Additional optional activities for each day are also included.
By splitting up this devotional into one day per week, we have more time to explore the extra Bible passages, memorize the verse, and really absorb and apply the lesson. The whole focus of the devotional is how Jesus changes us from the inside out, and we’ve seen God work deeply in our hearts as we’ve slowed down and read this devotional weekly through Lent.
These eight reflections and passages by Noel Piper can be used as daily readings (beginning on Palm Sunday and read daily through Resurrection Sunday) or as weekly readings (beginning on the first Sunday of Lent and read weekly through Resurrection Sunday).
Though no extra activities are included, you could use these passages as part of your simple worship plan.
–> Family Devotions for Lent
These simple family devotions for lent include a short Bible passage and prayer and a reflection question. This is a great short and simple option if you’re looking for daily readings for Lent. Find them here.
Want to experience the cross from a new perspective this Easter? Grab this storybook to read aloud as a family. The chapters are short and exciting and lots of extra features are included in the book to supplement your family devotions and make Lent a meaningful experience for your family this year. Buy Amon’s Adventure here.
I have to admit that I have mixed feelings on this one. The activity has the power to be incredibly powerful, but if not done correctly, I worry kids could walk away with the wrong idea. The most important part of the lesson is in what happens when, on that last day, their jars are far from full and they wake the next morning to find that Jesus’ grace is what really matters. With this activity, I think it’s important to emphasize that even though we do good things, our “good things” don’t save us. Nothing we say or do (or don’t say or don’t do) can ever earn us salvation. We are saved only through the shed blood of Jesus!
–> Love Letters from God
Easter Love Letters from God is a unique way to read through the Biblical account of Holy Week — in the form of love letters from God! Geared toward kids 4-8 years old, this book would be a great supplement to Clean on the Inside or the Family Devotions for Lent shared above.
–> Focus on the Cross
Choose one or more of these activities to help teach your kids about resurrection and the new life we receive through Jesus.
A Sense of the Resurrection is a multi-sensory Easter experience for families. Written by the creator of Truth in the Tinsel (for Advent), A Sense of the Resurrection includes 12 sensory activities to help kids see, smell, taste, and touch different pieces of the Biblical narrative of Holy Week. (Please note :: While this is a great resource for families, if you do not like gathering and prepping materials or doing crafty-type things, this probably isn’t the best option for you.) Buy A Sense of the Resurrection here.
–> Sing! :: 12 Songs to help your kids celebrate Jesus
Music is one of the quickest ways my kids learn, remember, and celebrate! Set up a playlist of worship music that focuses on Jesus and what HE has done for us. Click here to listen to 12 songs my kids love to sing to celebrate Jesus.
–> Listen :: Audio Family Devotions
–> Watch :: Kids’ TV show and movies that tell the crucifixion story
Watch a Christian cartoon for kids or a Christian movie that tells the story of Jesus. Jelly Telly streams quite a few different Easter shows including the videos of the Jesus Storybook Bible, What’s in the Bible, and Five Minute Family Devotions for Holy Week. Watch snippets of a few of the options here on the Jelly Telly blog.
–> Simple Intentions
Over the past few years, God has spoken deeply to my heart as I’ve reflected on these three questions prior to Lent. This year I created a printable for us to use as we anticipate Lent and how God is calling us to respond to Him during this season. Sign up here to download this printable for free.
Praying these resources help you and your family draw close to Jesus and experience Him in a new way this Lent and Easter season!