“So, if someone came up to you and said that they had never done anything with discipleship in the home; never talked about God or had intentional faith-focused moments, where would you tell them to start?”
Such a good question. And one that I got asked today.
Where would you start?
There are a lot of great books out there for parents, amazing devotionals designed to bring families together, and outstanding resources to equip the home for faith formation. But if I had someone with no experience talking about God with their children…I probably wouldn’t recommend any of them.
Not because they aren’t amazing and not because they won’t find them useful in time, but if I were going to “get them started” I would point them to four moments; four unique moments outlined in Deuteronomy 6:7, everyday occurrences where God says, “In these moments, talk to your children about Me.”
What I love about these moments is that they aren’t mysterious and they aren’t unusual. They are things like waking up and going to bed. Sitting down at home and heading out on the road.
Simple moments that happen to everyone, all the time, everywhere in the world.
So, if I had the chance to speak to a parent who has never experienced faith formation in the home or been intentional about discipling their kids, then I would take them there.
I would ask them to make a list, to write down as many of those moments that they could think of.
For instance, when does your family sit at home? Perhaps dinner time or movie night, playing video games or board games, playing with play dough or reading a book. The times where seats are in seats and your family is together.
What about when you are on the road? Driving to soccer practice, headed to church, shopping at the grocery store, or eating at a restaurant.
Bedtime? Do you read stories or brush teeth or have some snuggle time?
And in the morning? Do you eat breakfast, drink coffee, follow a routine?
All of these everyday moments…these are the times God said, “Talk about Me.”
Such simple times, such ordinary moments, but they become extraordinary when God enters the picture.
Once they’ve got their list, we talk. I’d ask, “How can you invite God into those moments?”
I’m a firm believer that discipleship at home doesn’t mean you have to add more to an already busy, already full life but it means you get to intentionally welcome God into what you are already doing.
That list that they’ve created represents moments that are already happening, things that are already part of the family life and routine. It is into those physical moments that we can inject the spiritual conversation and use them to create a framework for faith and discipleship on which to build.
Here are some ways that our family has invited God into those moments:
In the morning, we pray a blessing over our children before they go to school. It doesn’t take long, just a few seconds, but it sets a tone for them and let them know that God is with them, they are loved, and this day is in His hands.
In the evening, we pray before they go to bed. I pray a prayer that reflects the meaning of their name and reminds them of their identity in Christ. My husband prays prayers of affirmation and blessing. The other day, I had gone to bed early with a headache and my husband was out of town, but I heard my 9-year-old ask my 12-year-old to pray for her before bed…because that’s what we do.
While we sit at home during movie nights, we eat way too much popcorn and pizza, but we also ask some questions like, “Did that character make the choice you think God would want us to make?” and “Does that story remind you of any stories from the Bible?” (PS. Almost every superhero movie mirrors the metanarrative of Scripture – good vs. evil – great stuff for discipleship at home)
In the car, we love to listen to the radio and sing along. When the kids were younger we listened to lots of Adventures in Odyssey stories (see Focus on the Family for these wonderful adventures in faith). But one intentional habit that has stuck with all of us is that we pray whenever we hear a siren; we pray for the victims, for the emergency personnel, and for any medical staff.
(For more practical ideas on inviting God into these moments, check out this link)
These are just a few ideas of how we have invited Jesus into our everyday. And these ideas, these very personal, very real moments are just that – realistic and do-able for everyone.
If I were having that conversation with a parent who wanted to start bringing faith into their home, I would tell them my story and help them find theirs. In time, I would offer resources like books and devotionals. I would point them to blog posts and give them tools, but first, I would help them find their moments.
And I then would walk the path with them, supporting and encouraging, as their moments become their story and their story becomes their faith. These moments, given by God, experienced by all, are where I would tell them to start.
Deuteronomy 6:7 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.
What are some ways your family has found to invite Jesus into these everyday moments?
For more information about
- Kids in Worship
- Determining which Type of Family Ministry model works best for your church
- Encouraging the continued conversation through Practical Discipleship at Home
- And much more!
About the author
Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com.