After working in Church ministry for more than a decade, you can imagine that I’ve had the opportunity to work with lots of different folks. I’ve spent time with people from all kinds of family makeups and backgrounds. And lying underneath many of the relationships that I’ve had with people in the church is the lie that so many families have bought into: “Church is just ONE of the many things my family does each week”.
For many families, attend church together has about as much relevance as attending a movie or baseball game. These families attend church passively with an expectation to be served. Perhaps this has been your mindset at Church. “Song leader, sing to me.” “Pastor, teach me.” “Children’s Minister, lead my kids to Jesus.”
I actually believe there are families who are completely dependent upon the church for their personal spiritual growth. In fact, there are many people who if they missed attending Church one Sunday, they would miss out on everything spiritual in their lives that week. Here’s how these families subconsciously view the Church: Just like its become the hospital’s responsibility to keep people alive, and the school’s responsibility to make kids educated, it’s the church’s job to ensure people go to heaven.
The Family at War
Here’s why I believe this lie is so prevalent among families in the Church. Satan has deceived families into thinking it’s no longer their responsibility to disciple one another. Satan has used the Church to convince people that they can leave all of the Bible teaching and prayer times at the Church (as if the church is a location and not a group of people). Satan is really good at lying and we’re really great at believing him. Jesus called Satan ‘the father of all lies’, and He taught that ‘lying is Satan’s native language’ (John 8:44).
Satan has been attacking the unity of the family since the very beginning. Do you recall what Satan’s plan of attack in the Garden of Eden was? He not only deceived Eve, but he kept Adam quiet when Adam knew the truth about that fruit. Satan divided the unity within the first marriage relationship with a lie.
Satan is successful when he gets families so busy that they don’t have time to disciple one another. (Tweet that) Satan loves that soccer tournaments are scheduled for Sundays and he loves it when dads are too tired to read the Bible to his kids. Satan loves it when women are the spiritual heads of the house and when fathers and husbands would rather play golf than go to church with his family. The family is under spiritual attack and we can’t sit idly by waiting for the church to come to the rescue. We need to take spiritual responsibility for our own and intentionally make disciples within our family. (Tweet that.)
When Moses was preparing the second generation of Israelites to leave the desert of wandering and move into the promised land, he took time to remind them of this principle of family discipleship. Did they have a community worship center? Yes, the temple. Did they have religious leaders? Yes, the priests. But the primary method of bible education and prayer times was centered within the family. Here’s what Moses taught: “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
Discover Your Family’s Weekly Rhythm
For many parents teaching the Bible seems like a daunting task. And believe me, it is. We’re talking eternity on the line kind of stuff. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. You can create a simple system that uses the regular rhythms of your week to bring the Bible, prayer, worship, and conversations about your faith into everyday life. Using the pattern Moses taught the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6:6-9. here are four practical steps you can implement into your life today:
1. “When sit at home” = Quality Family Time
In our home this is dinner time or down time after dinner. When we sit at the dinner table to eat (4-5 times a week), we all sit at the table until everyone is finished. We don’t allow anyone to “eat-and-run”. After dinner we might watch a family friendly show together or read a book or play a game. Whatever it is, we do it together. And during this time we engage in conversation about life and whenever possible we talk about our faith.
2. “When you walk along the road” = Drive Time
We sit in a car together for several minutes a day. Either it’s going to school, to the store, or out to eat. And we don’t turn on the DVD players just to keep the kids quiet. We use this time to coach our kids for what’s coming up next. If we’re headed to school, we talk about how we treat our friends. If we’re driving to Church, we express why worship is so important to our family. Often we will sing together too!
3. “When you lie down” = Bed Time
Bed time is one of the most intimate times of the day for us. This is when we pray with our kids and read the Bible or other story books together. We always affirm our love for one another before bed and we always try to resolve any disagreements to make sure we don’t go to bed angry (Ephesians 4:26)
4. “When you get up” = Breakfast Time
In the morning we always eat breakfast before we start our day. So while we eat breakfast (and while we’re waking up) we simply express how beautiful a new day is to us. We set high expectations with our kids that today is going to be awesome. We don’t allow a new day not to start out on a good foot.
What if I Don’t Have Kids?
“But Ashton, I’m single and don’t have kids yet.”. If you don’t have kids yet, start applying these principles into your personal life’s rhythms. Join groups where these conversations can happen. If you’re not practicing them while your alone, it will become much more difficult to start after you’re married and have had a few kids.
“We’ve raised our kids and now we enjoy an empty nest.”
Now you get to focus on yourself. Or better yet, use the experience you’ve gained raising your own kids and help raise someone else’s. I’m grateful for the spiritual guidance of my pastor and his family where I could go and observe how a family incorporated Jesus into their everyday life. Invite a teenager to join you for dinner to enjoy your quality family time together. Invite your grand kids over to spend the night and read the Bible with them before they go to bed. You’re not finished just because you’re kids are grown. There’s another generation that needs your experiences!
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