The Eternal Value of Family Time

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I like to laugh. I like to be silly and joke around… life is hard, so I want to be a Proverbs 31 woman who “laughs at the days to come.” But I’ve lived long enough to know that there are times to be serious. Take a moment to consider this: What if you don’t teach your children about Jesus at home? What if you don’t learn the Bible together? What if you neglect praying as a family or never memorize scripture?

Well, to be frank, you’re being disobedient to God. That should be reason enough to shift our focus to these important spiritual disciplines. But what does it mean to your children? With out these Biblical values, they will grow up in a home that perhaps looks a lot like the nice, moral family down the street who is far from the Lord. Are you banking on the one hour out of 168 each week they spend in Sunday School? Are you waiting for them to have a conversion experience at a Christian camp or a mission trip when they (finally) hear the Gospel message clearly preached?

Eternity is at stake.

Our kids must hear Biblical Truth and hear it often from us because the lies of the world are coming at them from every angle. The world’s message and the anthem of pop culture is not passive. I’ve heard parents say “my kids will figure things out when they are ready.” Well guess what? By then, it may be too late. They’ll likely be indoctrinated with the “me” centered cultural norms, attempting to instill Biblical Truth when your son or daughter is 17, 20 years old or even older is much harder.

Eternity starts now. Once we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior we have the treasure and promise of an eternal heaven with him. The sooner our children can learn and accept this beautiful truth, the better. It will save them heartache, consequences, and frustration now and give them hope for eternity in their hearts.

Remember that salvation is a one time event – believe in the Lord and be saved. But the process of sanctification is a lifetime pursuit – we learn and grow until we enter into eternity. Take this journey together as a family and trust God that your work and faith is not in vain.

He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it.

Overcoming Hurdles to Getting Started with Family Worship at Home

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Whether a family has one, three, or seven kids… If they have a two year old or a 12 year old… If they home school or public school… live in the city or the country, EVERY family has hurdles to overcome if they are serious about starting a regular family worship time.

At Family Time Training, we always encourage families to set aside 20 minutes once a week. Our family Bible activities are designed to take about that much time. But whatever method you decide to use, there are four main components: read the Scripture, discuss, pray and sing. It’s very similar to a regular corporate worship service (hear the Word preached, pray, sign, and take the Lord’s Supper) and you should feel free to adapt to your family while keeping to the key components of worshipping the Lord.

I want to address two primary areas that keep us from getting started: the planning and the doing. You need a plan and then you need to implement that plan. It would be impossible to create an all-inclusive list of potential hurdles and their solutions, so I’m suggesting 9 ways to overcome your hurdles and praying that God uses them to help you get started.

1)     Make the decision. The rest of this list is a waste of time if you haven’t decided that this is God’s Plan and therefore the most important part of your family’s routines. Once you make the decision, ideally both spouses together, tell the kids and even tell some friends. Ask them to hold you accountable to having family worship every week.

2)     Put it on the calendar. Be certain that you have a day and time that works for you family each week. Maybe it’s Tuesday nights or Friday afternoons. It could literally be any time that works for your family’s schedule. Use your smartphone to create a recurring event on your calendar so the time is blocked out before you schedule other things. Then, use a paper calendar to hang in a prominent place in your home some everyone can see this is a priority and be reminded.

3)     Plan in advance. I highly recommend taking time once a month to plan your family worship time. Decide what topics or activities you want to do.

4)     Gather your supplies. The last thing you want to do is make the commitment, put it on the calendar, and then not have everything you need when it’s time for family worship!

5)     Limit distractions. Your kids are easily distracted. YOU are easily distracted (Surely you realize how the simple act of searching on your phone for that book you’ve heard so much about takes you down an endless rabbit trail.) Put phones away. Clear away clutter.

6)     Let older kids help. Younger kids are eager to have your undivided attention. They love to be with and spend time with you. Sometimes older kids need a bit more persuading. Let them take the lead! They can pick out the theme, the music, or supplies. If older kids feel like they are needed, they are more likely to desire to participate.

7)     Keep it short… or long. Follow the lead of your kids! I told you that our Family Time activities are designed to be done in about 20 minutes once a week. We really mean that. There’s no special amount of time that is the “right” amount of time. If at 10 minutes someone is crying or the kids are arguing over who gets to read, it’s probably going to be a shorter family worship. If kids are asking great questions or want to do the activity more than once, you may have a 45 minute family worship on your hands. It’s okay.

8)     Be flexible. It’s okay to change the format, the day and time, or even where you do your family worship! As #7 illustrates, your family worship won’t look the same every week and that is actually a good thing! Fight the urge, if you’re like me, to be legalistic. You want your kids to remember that family worship was fun and that you made time just for them to learn God’s Word together.

9)     Don’t expect to be perfect. You won’t know all the answers to your kids questions (But spoiler alert: You can find the answers!). You’ll miss a week… or three. Don’t give up! Remember that Jesus is the only one who is perfect. He gives us grace. And this is his plan.

Any hurdle can be overcome by our powerful God – trust him to help you to get started leading family worship in your home.

Parents and Leaders as Partners

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I hope you were inspired by yesterday’s post. What God has called us to as parents matters so, so much. Our kids are counting on us to love them and educate them. What could be more important than loving them and pointing them to Jesus?

And it is a joy and privilege to bring any soul to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, but allow me to shine the spotlight on what is already a glaring problem in many churches.

Last year, I was with a group of children’s and youth pastors. As I was sharing my heart for families and helping churches to see a vision for equipping and supporting home discipleship, one children’s pastor said with a quiver in her voice, “That is exactly what we need! For years I’ve felt the pressure of bringing kids to salvation. I’ve been treated by parents as if this is part of my job description – they bring their kids to me and expect me to make sure they are saved.”

Wow. I hope you know this is not the job of your children’s or youth pastor… or any pastor. Yes, we are blessed to be in churches where the Gospel is proclaimed and discipleship is taken seriously. But we cannot and should not expect these leaders to bring our children to salvation. In fact, we should desire as parents to have this awesome opportunity!

So how do we work together? I don’t have all the answers. And I don’t know your church context or family situation, but here are 3 simple ways I believe the church and the family can work as partners to raise up the next generation in Christ.

#1 – Committed relationship. Parents, it’s hard for your pastor when you aren’t at church every week. It’s hard for them to know you and your family. (Not to mention, corporate worship is a huge part of our individual spiritual development.) You can negatively multiply this impact for kids. They are missing out on making Christian friends and engaging in Biblical teaching with their peers during critical years of development. Be committed to your local church. No church is perfect, but neither are you so it kind of works out. 😊

A word to children’s and youth pastors… you probably know the sad statistics around how long you stay at one church. It’s dismal. Be committed to your church and the families you are serving even when things get hard. You won’t ever get to see the fruit if you don’t stay around long enough.

Parents and pastors, encourage one another! Partners make the load lighter and we know that “a cord of three strands is not easily broken.” God desires us to work together in a committed relationship for the sake of our children.

#2 – Two-way communication. I’m going to brag on our family pastor for just a minute. Each and every week he sends a thoughtful, educational, and encouraging email to all of the families of teenagers in our church. Sometimes he’s sharing a resource for home discipleship, other times he’s informing parents on a topic they need a deeper understanding about, or he is simply sharing the upcoming teaching schedule or activity calendar. At the end of each email, he offers parents to respond in some way, “Tell me how the discussion goes!” or “Let me know how I can be praying for your family.” Or “If there’s a topic you want me to cover, give me a call.”

It would be easy to write this off as being part of his job. But I’m guessing if you have a teen you aren’t getting an email like this. If you’re a pastor, consider how this sets your families up for success just by communicating with them.

Now parents, shame on us if we aren’t responding to these kinds of messages! Your children’s, youth, or family pastor can only know you as well as you let them. Do you ask your pastor to pray with you about what’s going on in your family? Do you encourage them when your kids come home talking about how much fun they had in one of their programs? Do you invite them over for a meal to get to know them better? Do you pray for them… and tell them you are praying for them?

These are critical components of two-way communication that benefit your family and your church. Not only that, but they truly honor the Lord.

#3 – Shared tools and strategies. Parents, please hear me out. You may be relying too heavily on church programs to teach your children. What is instead of heading off to a mid-week program at church that divides up your family, you were willing to carve out that same time at home to spend in family worship? Or what if instead of dropping of your teen to participate in a service project, your youth pastor coordinated a service opportunity for families to do together? It is possible and the results have a fantastic impact.

Similarly, your church probably has a wonderful curriculum for kids and teens. It may even have a curriculum that allows all ages to be studying the same scripture at an age-appropriate level. Fantastic! It’s time to make the connection between what’s happening in the church and what is happening at home. Many curriculum developers are already including a take-home piece that parents can use for activity, discussion, and deeper learning at home during the week. Please take advantage of these resources.

Working together in partnership, the church and the family, gives our kids the best of discipleship both in our homes and in our churches. Not only will our children benefit, but I truly believe our churches will be more harmonious places that bring glory to God.

**This blog was written by Famtime.com. For more information, visit their website!

Parents, Let’s Build Faith and Truth at Home

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How did you learn to ride a bike? Brush your teeth? Play the piano? Read a book? Someone taught you, of course. Or maybe several “someones” taught you in these areas. “It takes a village” as the African proverb says. But as a parent, you were probably the first one to teach these things and brought other trusted individuals into your child’s life to help cultivate them as they grew.

Now consider this: how did you learn about Truth? Right and wrong? A Biblical worldview? Sin and forgiveness? Salvation and heaven? Surely someone taught you these things as well. If you grew up in a Christian home, you can probably remember learning these things from a Sunday School teacher, at a Bible camp, at Vacation Bible School, during a sermon, or from a Christian mentor.

If you weren’t born into a Christian family and God used a faithful disciple to share the faith with you, what an awesome testimony you have as well!

Sadly, those who grew up in Christian homes rarely have a testimony of learning the faith in their homes… from their own parents and grandparents as the Bible instructs. They, like me, grew up with an example of what a Christian does and doesn’t do (you do go to church, you don’t do drugs; you do say prayers at the dinner table, you don’t steal or cheat).

Now you are reading this today because we serve a sovereign God of grace and mercy. He loves us and calls to us even in our sin and rebellion. He draws individuals to himself even when we are running the opposite direction. God’s plan never fails.

Once we are saved, don’t we want to be obedient? Don’t we desire more and more of God and less and less of this world? So when we learn God’s heart, his intention, his plan, we should want to get on board, follow his lead and trust his goodness!

This is why building faith and knowledge in Truth in our homes is so critical. We make investments into our child’s learning in areas such as sports, academics, the arts, physical health and wellbeing. So we must ask ourselves the hard question: Am I putting the same effort (or any effort) into building their spiritual health and development?

As Christians, one #1 goal is not for our children to be happy, popular or wealthy. Our first priority, Biblically, is that they know God, know the Bible, and ultimately, by God’s grace, come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Are you in? I hope so. I’m so excited for the next 2 weeks together. On our last day, I’ll be answering some of the most common questions about home discipleship. If you have something you want me to talk about, please leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to compile a complete list for us.

**This blog was written by Famtime.com. For more information, visit their website!