Welcome to FaithBuilders!
FaithBuilders is an exciting way for people and for families to connect with each other at the end of each day, to share what is happening in their lives with each other, and to build bridges between their faith and what’s happening in their lives. FaithBuilders is a way for people of all ages to move through the Bible and to think about stories from the Bible that have been a part of the Christian faith for thousands of years. FaithBuilders is something that we can easily incorporate into our daily routines, and it is a daily faith practice that encourages us to talk with each other, to pray with each other about what’s happening in our lives, and to bless each other at the end of each day.
We are going to begin our journey, this year, by spending some time learning about the life of Jesus Christ. This is a great way to learn more about Jesus if you don’t know much about Him right now, and it’s also a great way for parents to introduce stories about Jesus to their children and teenagers. We’re going to be focusing upon only one story each week. And throughout the week, we are going to be pondering several questions that can help us to think more about what we believe more deeply and apply what we believe to our daily lives. If you get off-track, don’t worry about it! Just pick up with the next story when you get started again. This is about learning and growing with people who are an important part of your life.
You might want to use these FaithBuilders steps to help you get started: (1) take a few moments to simply “connect” with another person, or with your children, as bedtime approaches, to simply see how the day went; (2) spend a few minutes reading the story that’s been chosen for the week and talking about one (or more) of the questions that have been provided (or you might want to talk about something else that came into your mind as you read the story); (3) spend a few moments picking something (or even a few things) that you can pray about together; and then, (4) end your time together with a short blessing – realizing that your blessing is one of the most important things that you can offer to another person.
May God richly bless you as you make FaithBuilders a part of your daily routine, and as you continue your journey of faith toward wherever God is leading you.
Week 1 – Luke 1:26-38
• Do you think that God still has a special plan for our lives, and for the lives of the people that we know and love?
• If God has a special plan for our lives, how do we know what that plan is? (After all, God doesn’t always send angels that speak to us, right?)
• Mary was told that she was going to bring Jesus into the world. How have you brought Jesus into the world this week?
• It’s sometimes scary to do what you think God wants you to do. Where can you find strength and courage to do it?
• Why do you think the angel told Mary about Elizabeth?
Week 2 – Luke 2:1-7
• We all follow rules and laws that have been written by other people. Who writes the rules and laws that you obey?
• Rules and laws aren’t always easy to follow. It wasn’t easy for Mary and Joseph to obey the law and travel through the desert when Mary was ready to have a baby. Can you think of a time when it was hard for you to follow a rule or law? What was that like?
• At Christmas, we sometimes see manger scenes in homes, in churches and even in other public places. Why do people put up manger scenes at Christmas?
• The king told lots of people to go to Bethlehem. Can you think of a time when you were in a place with a lot of other people, when you needed to stand in line for a long time, or when you had to remain standing because there weren’t any seats left? What was that like?
• Lots of different things happen at Christmas: shopping, parties, decorating, singing, etc. How can you make sure that there is room for Jesus in your life and in your home this Christmas?
Week 3 – Luke 2:8-20
• Luke’s Gospel tells us that the shepherds “were filled with great fear” (Luke 2:9). What is something that you are afraid of? What does it feel like to be afraid?
• The angels told the shepherds, “Fear not!” (Luke 2:10) How can knowing that God is with you help you in times when you are afraid?
• We often call Jesus our “Savior.” What is something that you need to be saved from, right now?
• What is something that you can do on Christmas morning to help you to remember that Christmas is about Jesus? (FaithBuilders Idea: What would it be like to start the day on Christmas by reading Luke 2:1-20 as a family?)
• Why do you think the shepherds returned to their places of work “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen” (Luke 2:20)? How will you return to school, or to work in the days following Christmas, this year?
Week 4 – Matthew 2:1-12
• Have you ever taken trip where you needed to sit in a car or an airplane for a long period of time? How do you think the person who was driving the car (or flying the airplane) knew where to go?
• Can you think of a way that God pointed you in the right direction one day? What was that like?
• Why do you think King Herod was “troubled” when he heard that a child, who was going to be the “King of the Jews,” was born?
• How do you think the Wise Men felt after they had been traveling for a long time and finally got to the place where they wanted to be?
• Why do you think King Herod wanted to know where the baby that the Wise Men were seeking could be found?
• Why do you think the Wise Men left “by another road”?
Week 5 – Luke 2:22-40
• How did your parents choose your name?
• Many people in the Lutheran Church are baptized when they are still babies. Why did your parents want to have you baptized? What are some things that your parents promised to do on the day you were baptized?
• What was it like to wait for Christmas this year? Why is it harder to wait for something “really big” (like the summer break from school – or a family vacation) than it is to wait for something that’s not “really big”?
• How does it feel when something happens that you’ve wanted to see happen for a long time? How do you think Simeon felt when he saw Jesus?
• Why do you think people come to worship? Why do you think Anna spent so much time praying?
Week 6 – Matthew 2:13-23
• Do you think God still talks to people and tells them what God wants them to do?
• If you believe that God still talks to people, what do you think the voice of God sounds like? How do you know that you’re really hearing a message from God?
• Why do you think that King Herod was so upset when he heard that another King had been born?
• Do you think people with a lot of power are sometimes afraid of other people who have a lot of power? Why?
• Why do you think bad things happen to good people? Do you think God decides to “zap” people from Heaven? Do you think people suffer because other people decide to do things that hurt them?
• What is something that you could do this week to help people to suffer less?
Week 7 – Luke 2:41-52
• What is the Feast of the Passover? (This is a great week to review the story of the Exodus – Exodus 10:1—12:14)
• Why do you think it’s important for parents to help their children learn about and come to know God?
• Martin Luther began his Small Catechism with the words: “As the head of the family should teach them in a simple way to his/[her] household.” How can FaithBuilders help parents fulfill the promises that they made on the day that their child/children was/were baptized?
• Why do you think that 12-year-old Jesus was listening and asking questions in the Temple? How can listening and asking questions help us to learn about God? What questions about God would you like to ask?
• Big parts of the life of Jesus are missing in the Bible. We, first, meet Jesus as an infant. We see Jesus when He is 12 years old. Then, Jesus appears, at about the age of 30, and begins His ministry. Why do you think that parts of Jesus’ life are missing from the Bible?
Week 8 – Matthew 3:1-12
• John the Baptizer was a rather scary and gruff man who called people to change the ways they act and behave. Why do you think John told people that they need to change the way they act and behave?
• The Church talks a lot about something called “sin.” How would you define the word “sin”? Why is it so hard for us to admit when we’ve done something wrong?
• John the Baptizer called some people who believed that they were doing everything “right” a bunch of snakes. Why do you think that some religious people believe that they are better than people who aren’t religious?
• John the Baptizer told people that Jesus would come into the world with a “winnowing fork in His hands.” What is a winnowing fork? Why do people use a winnowing fork?
• What is “chaff”? Why would farmers want to separate the grains of wheat from the chaff before storing it in a barn? Does chaff have a useful purpose? If so, what is it?
Week 9 – John 1:29-34
• John the Baptizer told other people that Jesus was a part of God’s plan and that Jesus was doing something very important. What is something that you are doing that is important? What makes it important?
• John was, also, a person who encouraged Jesus in His ministry. Can you name someone who encourages you?
• A lot of people need to be encouraged these days. Can you think of someone who needs to be encouraged by you? How could you encourage that person?
• God has a special plan for all of our lives. Can you think of a way that God is working in your life right now?
• One of the ways that we can encourage others and help them to see that they’re doing something important is to simply say, “Thank you.” How often do you say, “Thank you’? Who could you say “Thank you” to tomorrow?
• Take a moment to read: Hebrews 10:24. What is being said in this verse of the Bible? How can we do that?
Week 10 – Luke 4:1-13
• What does the word “temptation” mean? Who are some people who are encouraging you to do bad things?
• God filled Jesus with the Holy Spirit before the devil tries to get Him to do bad things. How do you think God helps you to make good decisions and choices?
• Jesus quotes the Bible three different times while He is being tempted to do the wrong thing. How can reading and learning more about the Bible help you when you’re being led in the wrong direction?
• In this week’s reading, we’re reminded that the devil (and other people) can twist what the Bible says when they want to lead us in the wrong direction. What are some things you can do to make sure that that doesn’t happen to you? Who is helping you understand the Bible?
• This week’s reading ends with the words: “and when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.” What does that mean? Do you think that we can be tempted to do the wrong thing more than once? (You may want to explore: Luke 22:39-46)
Week 11 – John 1:35-51
- John the Baptizer was one of the first people to figure out that Jesus was special. Why do you think that John called Jesus the “Lamb of God”?
- In the story of Great Passover (Exodus 12:1-13), Moses tells the people that when God sees the blood of a lamb on their doorpost, the Angel of Death will “pass over” their home. Jesus died on a cross, so that God will pass over (forgive) the things we do wrong. What similarities do you see between these two stories?
- This week’s story is filled with people who point others toward Jesus. John points people toward Jesus. Andrew points Peter to Jesus, and then Philip points Nathaniel to Jesus. Who are some people who are pointing you toward Jesus right now? Take a moment to say a prayer for those people today.
- People were told to “come and see” Jesus. What are some ways that we can invite others to “come and see” Jesus today? (You might want to talk about the fact that 88% of those who visit a church for the first time are brought there by someone that they know.)
Week 12 – John 2:1-11
- Have you ever been to a wedding reception? What are some things that you remember about it?
- How do you think someone who invited a lot of people to a birthday party would feel if all of the food was eaten by the guests before the party was over?
- Jesus tells His mother, “What concern is that to you and to Me? My hour has not yet come.” What do you think Jesus means when He says that? When is Jesus’ hour?
- The steward at the wedding in Cana of Galilee said, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” What do you think the steward means when he talks about the water that Jesus turned into wine in that way?
- In the story of the wedding in Cana of Galilee, Jesus turns something ordinary into something really good. What is something that Jesus could to turn into something really good in your life? Maybe you could pray about that and ask Jesus to help.
Week 13 – Luke 4:13-30
- Jesus went to a synagogue on the Sabbath. Synagogues are places where people come each week to learn about God. Name three reasons why people come to Sunday School and worship on Sundays.
- Jesus said that He came to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom to captives and to bring a message of freedom to those who are hurt by people who are more powerful than they are. What are some of the ways that our church is doing that today?
- Why do you think people who were listening to Jesus got mad when He talked about God helping people that they didn’t think are as “good” as they are? (verses 25-28)
- What do you think Jesus meant when He told people: “No prophet is acceptable in his own hometown”?
- We usually think of Jesus as a man who was kind and loving. Why would people want to throw a person like that off the top a cliff?
Week 14 – Mark 1:21-34
- Have you ever stood up to a bully (or to someone else) who was making another person’s life difficult? Why do you think Jesus tells the impure spirit to be quiet? Would you ever be that brave?
- Jesus told an impure spirit to leave a person who was being troubled by it and the impure spirit listened to Him. What do you think this says about Jesus’ power? Can you think of a place in your life (or in someone else’s life) where Jesus’ power is needed today? Take some time to pray about that.
- Have you ever been sick? We see Simon taking care of someone who is very sick in this reading. Who helps take care of you when you are sick? How do other people help you to get better? Take some time to pray for someone who helps take care of you today.
- Jesus healed many people who were sick and whose lives were being ruined by impure spirits. Do you think it’s fair that some people were healed and others were not? How do you think Jesus decided who to help?
- Can you think of a few people who need Jesus to heal them today? Take some time to prayer for those people.
Week 15 – John 3:1-21
- Nicodemus came to talk to Jesus “at night.” Why do you think Nicodemus didn’t just come to talk with Jesus in the middle of the day?
- Have you ever had a time when you really liked someone and wanted to be his/her friend but were afraid to be that person’s friend because you were afraid that your other friends wouldn’t like you anymore?
- Jesus tells Nicodemus that people need to be born again. If mothers do all of the hard work to give birth to children and babies do nothing at all, why do you think so many people believe that being “born again” is about making a choice or doing something for ourselves?
- Take a few moments to read Numbers 21:4-9. How can this unusual story from the Old Testament help you to understand why Jesus died on the Cross?
- This week’s story tells us that God did not send Jesus into our world to condemn it. God sent Jesus into our world to save it. What are some things that we need to be saved from today? Take some time to pray that.
Week 16 – John 4:4-42
- What do you think it would be like to live in a place where you need to walk many miles every time you need water?
- Sometimes, when we have a lot of something and are not afraid that what we have will run out, we can become very wasteful. Can you think of a way that you waste water? How could you stop doing that?
- Our church provides equipment and supplies that people need to dig wells in a place called Madagascar. Can you find Madagascar on a map? Why do you think our church is digging wells for people in other countries?
- Have you ever been really thirsty? What does it feel like when you’re thirsty? How do you feel after you drink a large glass of cold water?
- What do you think Jesus means when He tells a woman that He’ll give her “living water”? What is “living water”?
- Can you think of any ways God is providing something you need? What if God never made water for us?
- Can you think of something God gives to you that will last forever? What is it? How does it make you feel when you think about what God has given to you?
What is “Eternal Life”? Where does it come from?
Week 17 – Matthew 8:5-13
- Have you ever prayed for another person? Why do you think people pray for others when they’re going through hard times? Is there someone you could pray for today?
- A centurion is a Roman soldier who commands a group of 100 soldiers. Centurions tell other people what to do. Why do you think that the centurion did not simply tell Jesus what to do? Have you ever tried to tell God what to do? Did it work?
- Sometimes when we pray, we tell God what we want God to do. What can we learn from this story about prayer and about how to pray for other people?
- We don’t know if the centurion’s servant knew that he went to Jesus to ask for help, or not. Have you ever prayed for someone secretly? Can you name some people in your life who might be praying for you without letting you know?
- Make a list of people that you can pray for this week. And then, divide your list into seven groups. Pray for one of the groups of people each night before you go to bed.
Week 18 – Matthew 8:23-27
- Have you ever been in a boat? What are some things you remember about being in a boat (Did it rock back and forth? Did it make your stomach feel weird? How did it feel when you got out of the boat and started to walk on the land again?)?
- A great storm arose on the sea and the disciples were afraid. What are some things that scare you? What does it feel like when you are scared?
- The disciples were very scared when the storm arose, but Jesus was asleep. Have you ever slept through a storm? Have you ever been unable to go to sleep because of a storm? If you couldn’t go to sleep during a storm, why couldn’t you do it?
- After the disciples awakened Jesus, He said to them: “Why are you afraid? Don’t you have faith?” How can trusting in the fact that God is going to take care of you help you when you are afraid? If you’re scared about something right now, take a few moments to say a little prayer and to talk with God about it.
- Why do you think the disciples were amazed when Jesus calmed the storm? Can you think of a time when Jesus took away something that was scaring you? How can remembering that God was with you help you to face other scary times?
Week 19 – Luke 8:40-56
- Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came to Jesus to ask Him to help his daughter, who was very sick. Have you ever prayed for someone who is sick? Why do you think people pray for people when they are sick?
- While Jesus was on his way to Jairus’ house, another woman who was sick secretly touched His clothes. Why do you think the woman did that? Why didn’t she just ask Jesus for help?
- When Jesus said that He knew someone had touched His garments because He had felt power go out of Himself, why do you think the woman was afraid to admit what she had done?
- While Jesus was still traveling to Jairus’ house, a messenger arrived to tell Him that Jairus’ daughter was already dead. Why do you think Jesus didn’t just turn around and go back home? Why did Jesus continue to travel to Jairus’ house?
- What would you say if someone told you that a person who is dead is just sleeping? Why do you think you would respond in that way?
- After Jesus brought Jairus’ daughter back to life, He told her parents that they were not allowed to tell anybody about what had happened. Why do you think Jesus told them that? Why wouldn’t Jesus want them to tell everyone else what happened? Would you have trouble keeping a secret like that?
Week 20: John 6:1-15
- Can you think of a time when a lot of people came to your house for a meal? How many people were sitting at the table? How much food needed to be prepared? Was there any food left at the end of the meal? What happened to the extra food?
- Jesus used the five barley loaves and two fish that He got from a little boy to do a wonderful thing. Can you think of something in your life that Jesus could use to do something great? What is it?
- A denarius (plural: denarii) was the amount of money that a worker was paid for an entire day’s work. (see: Matthew 20:2) And thus, when Philip spoke about 200 denarii, he was saying that almost 7 months of an average worker’s wages would not be enough money to buy a little bit of food for the people who had gathered. How many days each month do the people in your family have to work to buy food for you to eat (you may need a calculator to figure that out)? What would happen if you didn’t have enough money? Do you know anybody who doesn’t have enough money to buy the food that they need? How could you help that person?
- We sometimes don’t think that God can use our gifts, talents and financial resources to do much. And yet, the story of the feeding of the five thousands reminds us that God can do wonderful things with whatever we have. How can this truth encourage you to share whatever you have? What is something little that you can do this week that God could use to make a big difference in someone else’s life?
- The people who saw Jesus feed five thousand people wanted to make Him a king, but Jesus didn’t want them to do that. Many people would like other people to call them their king. Why do you think that Jesus didn’t want to be their king?
- What is something that you could do this week, quietly and secretly, that would help another person – without calling attention to yourself?
Week 21 – Matthew 14:22-33
- Jesus was a very busy man, and people wanted Jesus to do things for them almost everywhere He went. Why do you think Jesus withdrew from the crowds and “went up on the mountain by Himself”? (Matthew 14:23) (It might be helpful to remember that, in the Bible, God often speaks to people while they are on the top of mountains.)
- Do you have a regular time when you withdraw from the busyness in your life to spend time alone with God? What do you do during that time?
- Why do you think the disciples thought Jesus was a ghost when He walked toward them on top of the water in the middle of the storm?
- Jesus tells His disciples, “Do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27) Is there something that is scaring you right now? Where do you find strength during the times in your life when you are afraid?
- When Jesus told Peter to get out of the boat and walk on top of the water, He was asking Peter to do something that people can’t do all by themselves. Has God ever called you to do something that you didn’t think you could do? Why do you think Peter stepped out of the boat when he knew that people can’t stand on top of water? What is faith?
- Why do you think the disciples worshipped Jesus and called Him the “Son of God” after they saw Him walking on top of the water and calming the storm? Do you believe that Jesus is the “Son of God”? Why?
Week 22 – Luke 9:18-27
- Sometimes we pray when we are alone and sometimes we pray with other people. Do you have times when you pray alone? Do you think it’s important to pray with other people? Why, or why not?
- People were confused and said all kinds of things about Jesus. What did Peter mean when he said that Jesus is “the Christ.” What does the word “Christ” mean?
- Jesus told His disciples that He was going to suffer and be rejected and be killed and be raised on the third day. What are some things that we do in the Church during the seasons of Lent and Easter to remember that?
- Many people call the hard times in their lives their “crosses to bear.” And yet, Jesus says that our cross is something that we “take up.” Have you ever done something for someone else that made your life more difficult? Is there someone that you think God wants you to help right now; and yet, you are afraid that, if you do what you think God wants you to do, it might make your life more difficult?
- We all like to play it safe and live our lives in peace. What do you think Jesus means when He says: “For whoever loses his/her life for My sake will find it”? What do you think Jesus meant when He said that?
Week 23 – Matthew 17:1-13
- In this week’s story, Jesus takes the disciples to the top of a mountain. Why do you think that this story takes place on the top of a mountain? (You might want to, also, read: Exodus 3:1-6, Exodus 19:1-6, and Matthew 5:1-12) What happens to people when they are on the top of a mountain in the Bible?
- Have you ever had a time in your life when you experienced God’s presence in a way that you had never experienced it at any other time? What happened? Have you ever shared what happened with another person?
- Why do you think God spoke from a cloud? (see: Exodus 20:1-19)
- Have you ever been asked to keep something that you saw a secret? How do you know when it’s OK to keep secrets and when you need to share things that you are keeping secret with another person?
- Why do you think that Jesus didn’t want the disciples to tell other people what they had seen until after He had been raised from the dead? How do you know when it’s OK to share a secret that you know? Do you have a secret that you think you need to share with another person, right now? What is stopping you?
Week 24 – Matthew 18:1-6
- How would you define the word: Great? Can you think of someone that you think is great? What makes you think that person is great?
- Why do you think Jesus called children great? Can you name some of the things that children lose as they grow older? Why do you think it’s easier for children to trust other people than it is for adults to do the same thing? Why do you think children can so easily forgive each other and remain friends with other children even after they’ve been hurt? What can a child teach you about how to live as an adult?
- What is a millstone? How much do millstones weigh? What would happen to you if someone tied a millstone around your neck and threw you into deep water?
- Why do you think Jesus is so serious about how adults care for children?
- What are some ways that adults teach children to sin? What would a child learn by watching how you treat others? What would a child learn by listening to the words you use when you speak about other people? Why do you think it’s so important for adults to be role models that children can imitate as they grow? What’s something that you want little children to learn from you?
Week 25 – Luke 10:25-37
- Why do you think the man who questioned Jesus wanted to know what he needed to do to inherit eternal life? (Luke 10:25) Have you ever wondered about that? Do you believe that you need to do more good things than bad things in order to go to Heaven when you die? What do you think St. Paul means when he tells us that we are made right in the eyes of God, despite what we’ve done, because of God’s great love for us? (Romans 3:23-24) Do St. Paul’s words challenge what you think?
- What do you think the Bible means when it says that the man who questioned Jesus wanted to justify himself? (Luke 10:29) What does the word “justify” mean? Why do you think people believe that they can make themselves right in the eyes of God?
- Why do you think that people walked past the man who had been hurt by robbers and who had been left alone on the side of the road? Why do you think that people sometimes don’t help people who need help from someone else? Have you ever not helped someone? If so, what stopped you from helping that person?
- Samaritans were considered to be outcasts in traditional Jewish circles. How do you think people felt when Jesus said that an outcast was willing to help a man that the religious people were not willing to help? Why do you think the religious people in this story didn’t help the injured man? What does it mean to be “religious”? Do you think people can be “religious,” but not do what God wants them to do?
- What does it mean for us to be a neighbor to each other? How could you be a better neighbor, right now?
- How do the words of Jesus at the end of this story challenge you? How is your faith challenged when Jesus tells you to go into the world and show mercy? (Luke 10:37)
Week 26 – John 11:1-46
- We often expect God to listen to our prayers and to give us the things that we ask God to give us very quickly. Why do you think Jesus didn’t immediately rush to the bedside of Lazarus when He heard that Lazarus was sick? (John 11:4-7) Have you ever wondered why Jesus didn’t help somebody that you know who was sick?
- Lazarus was already dead by the time Jesus arrived. Have you ever known a person who died? What does it feel like when someone that you know dies? Why do you think people came to comfort Mary and Martha after Lazarus died? (John 11:19)
- Have you ever gone to a funeral home? Why do you think people do that?
- What is grief? What is something that you could say someone who is grieving?
- Why do you think Jesus cried when He got to the tomb of Lazarus? (John 11:35) Did you know that Jesus was a man who sometimes cried? What does the fact that Jesus was a man who cried tell you about Him? Do you think it’s OK for you to cry?
- Jesus promises us that God is going to raise us up and take us to Heaven after we die. What does “resurrection” mean? (John 11:25) What do you think Heaven is like? How can the fact that Jesus has promised to raise us from the dead help you when you’re grieving?
Week 27 – Mark 10:13-16
- Christian adults talk about children being “the future of the Church”; but, in this story, Jesus invites children of all ages to come to Him. Do you think children are a part of the Church, right now? If so, what’s one way that you (or your church) make children feel welcome when they attend worship?
- Why do you think Jesus was angry with the disciples when they became impatient with adults who were bringing their children to see Jesus? Why do some people become impatient when parents bring their children to worship, today? Ask a child if he/she feels welcome during worship. What can little children teach adults about hospitality? How can children challenge us to think about the ways that we behave?
- Many Christians believe that it’s important for children to grow up and to become adults who are faithful and responsible; but, Jesus said that faithful and responsible adults need to become more like children. Why do you think Jesus said that? What do you think children could teach you about life, right now?
- What does it mean to “receive the kingdom of God like a child”? (Mark 10:15)
- Jesus shows us that it’s important for us to bless each other. Take a few moments to place your hands on another person’s head and to ask God to bless that person this week. What is it like to bless someone? What is it like to be blessed by another person? How does it feel when someone puts his/her hands on top of your head?
Week 28 – Coming Soon!