4 Tips for Faith-Focused “Screen-Free” Hours this Summer

Our new normal will not feel normal. In many states across the country, local governments are rolling out reopening plans. This all coincides with school letting out for “summer”, which feels different than it ever has before. After months of being at home completing a half year’s coursework through remote learning during a pandemic . . . what happens now?

One thing that helps us to remain grounded as worries abound is this: This is not God’s first pandemic! We follow behind the One who goes before us, and He is our ever-present help in time of need.

A Screen-Free Refresh

There was a point during the lockdown during which I literally was bouncing among five screens. If it's not the computer, it's the work phone or cell phone. After the day’s work is done, some may want to check email or watch a little Netflix on the big screen. As we phase into what comes next, many would agree that a limited screen summer sounds refreshing!

If the thought of no screens alarms you, that's okay. The reality is that we cannot live without technology and it that is has many helpful uses, especially when physically distancing ourselves from one another. If family and friends are far away, these may serve as a way to connect with others. Instead of no screens, consider some “screen-free” hours. Perhaps, that may be the hour before and during dinner time. Or it may be refraining from screen time within the first hour of waking up.

We are finding that recovery is less of a sprint and more of a marathon! Hebrews 12:1 reminds us to run with endurance the race set before us whilst fixing our eyes on Jesus. We approach the next phase with caution, trusting God to keep us safe and keeping in mind the children in our lives who are itching for different experiences.  

If your parents or caretakers in your congregation would like to explore some “screen-free” hours this summer, go for it!  Have them consider an “invisible box” where phones or tablets are put away for a time and something else is done that is screen free. Use a timer, starting at 30 minutes, and build. 

 Here is a list of screen-free ideas to explore that connect with God and others.  

Crafts or Board Games

Many churches nationwide are hosting virtual VBS programs and those are the perfect place to borrow craft ideas from or join in the fun for the week! Board games are easy to find in local stores or online and there are fun games you can play with Sunday school peers, small groups, or other congregation members while maintaining safe distances.

Walking Bridges, Greenways, and Parks

Consider walking through the different man-made and God-made areas where you live and enjoy! I recently walked across a bridge I usually drive across and got a whole new perspective on how I view my city. Parks are excellent opportunities for prayer walks with kids of all ages. Bring the binoculars, if you have them, as a way to see God's creation beyond what meets the eye.

Make a Time Capsule

This one is an oldie but goodie. Typically, time capsules are done in class during the primary grades, however, they can be quite meaningful as we grow. Make lists, gather pictures and items and put them in a time capsule. Include letters to your future selves and prayers that you leave in God’s hands. If space allows, you can bury it as a fun activity, or if you are in an urban setting and do not own a yard, just store them somewhere out of sight and out of mind. Mark your calendar for a date within a few months or years to open the time capsule and reflect on what God has provided and what you have learned!  

Learn the History of a Culture Different than Your Own

The year has brought many of us an increased awareness of diversity, both near and far. Consider first learning the history of your own culture if you have not done so yet. If you have already, then learn the culture of a neighbor, a fellow church member, or a friend. This can help you to gain new perspectives and see connection points that we are all made by God. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”( Galatians 3:28) The seven elements of culture include religion, customs/tradition, economic systems, language, social organization, government, and arts/literature.

There is so much more to do and explore in the coming summer weeks than just blue lit screens!  Which of these tips will you try?

Create a variety of screen-free habits focused on Christ.

Find an activity book to use

Picture of Deaconess Janine Bolling
Janine Bolling is a Brooklyn-born-and-reared Millennial who is passionate about practical education and connecting people with resources. She works full-time as an admissions recruiter for SUNY, part-time as an adjunct professor of theology at Concordia College New York, and part-time as deaconess at St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Brooklyn. The rest of her time is spent in EdD studies at Concordia University Wisconsin in the Leadership in Innovation and Continuous Improvement Program and with family and friends. Janine is a foodie and WILL fight you about why New York pizza is better than all other pizzas.

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