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Hausvater: /HAUS-fah-ter/
noun (German)
1. Housefather.
2. Spiritually responsible head of household, including the housefather as assisted by the housemother.
>> Example: "As the Hausvater should teach it [Christian doctrine] to the entire family ..."
(Martin Luther, Small Catechism, 1529)

Over the years, we’ve given and received a variety of faith-building gifts. Here are some ideas for your family or for your Godchildren.

Christmas Gifts

  • Ornaments
    (Start a tradition of giving one each year. Also a great gift for teachers.)
  • Nativity Set
    (This idea has endless possibilities. Choose a resilient material for younger children, or a porcelain set for those who are more responsible. Give it all at once, or one piece each year.)
  • The Messiah: The Greatest Sermon Ever Sung, by Tony Pittenger and Jonathan Mayer
    (Add the CD to this book for a wonderful visual and aural keepsake, to be treasured again and again.)
  • The Christmas Connection, by Karyn Lukasek
  • Christian T-Shirts
    (A visible reminder, and a public declaration, of the faith into which we were baptized.)

Baptism Gifts

Confirmation/High School Graduation Gifts

  • Bible or Hymnal
    (Consider engraving it with the child’s baptismal and/or confirmation date.)
  • Lutheran Confessions
  • Studying Luther’s Large Catechism
  • Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance
  • Adult Devotions:
  • Ussher’s Chronology
    This 17th-century masterpiece of scholarship centers upon the Hebrew Old Testament while incorporating secular sources through a methodology that seeks to remain faithful to Scripture as God’s inspired, inerrant Word. It is a handsome volume sure to delight a child’s curiosity in ancient history, while also offering much meat for adult learners. FYI, more recent research by Floyd Nolan Jones, who shares Ussher’s high regard for Scripture, has supported most of Ussher’s conclusions, while fine-tuning a few of his dates. Consider buying Ussher for the children as they enter junior high and buying Jones for your pastor or an avid lay theologians on your gift list.)

Wedding Gifts

Children’s Devotions

  • Story Bible
    (The text comes directly from the Bible, with illustrations that attract and sustain children’s attention.)
  • 365 Bible Stories for Young Hearts
  • 100 Bible Stories
  • A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories
  • Jesus Storybook Bible
    (This book emphasizes the foreshadowing of Christ in the Old Testament, with both the Old and the New Testaments harmoniously and emphatically proclaiming God’s abundant love for sinners through His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. This book may especially be helpful in assisting an unchurched child to see the “big picture” of salvation history. However, being written by a non-Lutheran, it substitutes represents for is when discussing the Lord’s Supper, so apply some white-out and be prepared to explain the real presence.)

Other Books


When Tragedy Strikes

  • If God Is Good, by Randy Alcorn
    (“Those without a biblically grounded theology of suffering are always just one accident, disease, natural disaster, or combat fatality away from losing their faith.” On the other hand, those who understand from Scripture that God works all things for the good of His children [Romans 8:28] will experience hardships differently—rather than losing their faith, they will grow in their trust that God is almighty, that God is gracious, that God is in control, and that even when the evils and tragedies of this world do not make sense to us—why would a loving God permit such suffering?—God and His saints ultimately will overcome and obtain the victory. Alcorn connects a wealth of Scripture passages, wisdom from the great theologians of the ages, and the raw experiences of people who have suffered greatly in order to provide comfort, courage, and above all Christ to readers who are struggling with hardships and temptations. We wish he would have acknowledged the Means of Grace on p. 490, rather than referring to human acceptance of God’s gift of salvation, but we also interpret that reference in the context of longer discussion in an earlier chapter, in which he rejected decision theology when discussing Arminianism. His critique of the Prosperity Gospel in favor of the Theology of the Cross resonates well with Lutheran theology.)
  • My Brother Lives With Jesus, forthcoming in Spring 2017, by Sam and Anna Gullixson
    (From a true account, follow a little boy as he tries to make sense of the death of his baby brother. Through questions to his parents this little boy is guided by God’s Word and His promises and finds comfort in the salvation won for him, and his brother, through Christ. This book simply and clearly explains the relationship between sin and death, baptism, forgiveness, and salvation won by Jesus on the cross. This comfort is also for you and your children.)


  • Notebooks, Journals, or Sketchpad with Bible passages
  • Calendars with Bible passages (custom made at VistaPrint or ShutterFly to include confirmation verses, etc.)
  • Bible Outburst and other games that remind people of Scriptural themes
  • Children’s Bible Trivia
  • Go Out for Breakfast with Daddy/Godfather
    (Ryan enjoys this annual one-on-one time marking each child’s birthday. He takes his Bible along for a special devotion, they chat, and the waitress takes their picture.)
  • Church Quiet Activity Book or Bag
    (If parents approve of activities in the sanctuary, consider My Quiet Book, or create your own.)
  • Music Lessons
    (This experience may prepare gifted children for service as accompanists in the congregation, while those who merely learn to plunk out a one-finger melody on the piano can at least share that talent for home devotions.)
  • Playmobile Luther
    (Why not?)


Dr. Ryan C. MacPherson is the founding president of The Hausvater Project. He lives with his wife Marie and their homeschool children in Casper, Wyoming, where he serves as Academic Dean and Professor of History and Philosophy at Luther Classical College. He previously taught American history, history of science, and bioethics at Bethany Lutheran College, 2003–2023. For more information, visit


Mrs. Marie K. MacPherson lives in Mankato, Minnesota, with her husband Ryan and their children, whom she homeschools. She is a certified Classical Lutheran Educator (Consortium for Classical Lutheran Educators), author of Meditations on the Vocation of Motherhood (2018), and editor of Mothering Many: Sanity-Saving Strategies from Moms of Four or More (2016).

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