Family life is such a complicated thing. You have individual personalities struggling to assert themselves. You also have individual personalities seeking to engage harmoniously with the other unique personalities that surround them.
It seems that each person has his or her own likes and dislikes, engages and shares in different ways, and requires unique combinations of nature and nurture to survive and thrive in this life.
Our churches are recognizing the complicated and challenging issues of family life. Local congregations are finding creative ways to respond to the combination of family structures and needs that are made manifest in their own congregations and communities.
Even radio announcements and children’s television programming are beginning to be oriented back to the family.
May is Christian Home Month. So let’s celebrate! We spend a lot of time and energy focusing on Mother’s Day. It is right and good to focus on mothers as they are often the foundation of a Christian home.
But what would happen if we expanded our thoughts and celebrations from just one day to 31 days? What would it look like if we celebrated fathers who also are the foundations of Christian homes? What would it mean for our churches and communities if we offered to parents practical tools for building a Christian home?
Here are some thoughts that I offer as we make plans now to celebrate and strengthen the Christian home.
• Meals – Eat together and pray together at least one night a week. Your prayers do not have to be elaborate or fancy. Try saying together The Lord’s Prayer. Share with your child the prayer “God is great, God is good”:
“God is great, God is good
“Let us thank Him for our food
“By his hands we all are fed
“Thank you God for daily bread. Amen.”
As you sit around the table (at home or in a restaurant) share one aspect or event about the day or the week that you have enjoyed.
• Family time – Families need to spend time together, but it takes work to make it happen. Take into consideration everyone’s schedule and find one evening or afternoon to spend time together.
Go bowling, play Wii, go on a hike or nature walk, serve together in mission, pull out a favorite board game or curl up together with a favorite or not-yet-seen movie.
• Car time – The place that all the family is assembled in one place without a lot of distraction is the car. Use this time wisely. On the way home from church talk about what you heard in the sermon or learned in Sunday school. Share where you felt God touch your heart.
Use car time to pray together. What better way to send a child to school then with a prayer in her/his heart and mind. Car time is often a time to unwind and shift mentally from one thing to another. Spend this unwinding time in reflection. Where can you see the blessing of God? Where do you need to confess and receive the forgiveness of God?
• Spiritual formation – The church, Sunday school, small groups – all of these are places established to supplement our spiritual formation.
Spend time together reading and studying the Bible. Start with a children’s or teenager’s Bible (I recommend The Youth Bible) because it often has devotions inserted within the text that help you glean the meaning of scriptures.
• Be open to the spirit — Look and listen carefully for God-given opportunities to encourage families to be and learn and serve as families. Where there is a ready and receptive heart, there God’s Spirit will dwell.
Foster serves on the conference staff. Contact her at 601-354-0515 or firstname.lastname@example.org.