We just got back from our second-annual family retreat! This year, with our kids being a bit older, we changed some things. Beforehand, I read The Five Love Languages of Children, by Gary Chapman, and we based our Bible study time on these. I couldn’t find anything like this on-line, so I’ve outlined it below.
Many things didn’t change from last year. We used no electronic devices except for reading (Kindles and tablets). Everyone again chose an activity to do together (tennis, watching a sunrise, Zumba, etc.), and everyone led devotions one night. Both of our children (7 and 10 years old, by the way) did a wonderful job of relating their devotions to the theme of love! We continued to have discussion questions at meal times. Here are some of the best questions we had for generating good discussion.
- How have we changed since last year? Physically, emotionally, relationally (within the family), etc.
- What do you want our family to do/accomplish/finish in the next three months? (One child said we should go to the pool more. Okay . . .)
- What are we doing that we need to stop or change?
- How do you feel about [an upcoming major event or change for our family]?
What I like so much about these discussion times is that the children feel free to express positive AND negative ideas without fear of criticism or punishment. Differences of opinion are discussed with respect, not ruffled feathers.
After doing the 5 Love Languges quizzes on the first day (available on-line at the link above), each Bible study time involved one language. We looked at how God/Jesus expressed that “language” in the Word, we briefly (like 2 minutes) discussed that “language”, and we brainstormed ways for us to express it to others–within the family and outside. We wrote all of our ideas on a big piece of paper, which I hung on the wall when we finished. We emphasized that speaking someone’s “language” is about showing love, not demanding love from others. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others (Phil 2:3-4).
These are the Scripture references that I used with each “language.”
- Words of Affirmation – Jeremiah 29:11, Matthew 25:21, Joshua 1:6, 9.
- Gifts – Ephesians 2:8, James 1:17.
- Quality Time – Luke 24:13-32, Genesis 3:8, Mark 1:35.
- Acts of Service – John 13:1-15, Matthew 14:13-21.
- Touch – Luke 4:40, 5:13, 8:54, 13:12-13, 18:15-16, 24:38-39. All of these except 24:38-39 just show that Jesus wasn’t afraid to reach out to people and touch them regardless of their physical condition–beautiful!
The brainstorming papers are now hanging on the wall in our kitchen. They remind us to follow through on what we learned. We also coined a term which we shout whenever we see a family member showing love in one of these ways: “Love Alert!”
**This post originally appeared on Not About Me in June 2013. The author moved it to this site.**