FamilyThis is the nineth post in a series of reflections on a Children’s Ministry White Paper written by Doug Paul from Eikon Community.

To me, this is my favorite post in the series.

Why? Because it gives me a window into some practical, engaging practices that I can do with my family. It takes the abstract philosophy and brings it to my everyday life. That’s not to eschew the under-girding beliefs of a parents’ primary role, but the practical routines and rhythms help me to “live it out.”

Based on our research, we recommend the following family, spiritual rhythms for parents. Parents can certainly do more, but we believe this is a baseline to help actively shape their kids. It is an intentional process that will shape the lives of their kids. You will notice that most of these are not that time consuming and they don’t need to be. They just need to be consistent and real. As you read these, you will see how Classroom, Apprenticeship and Immersion are playing out.

I love that they’re establishing a “baseline.” One can certainly do more, but here are the beginning basics that we are advocating.

I also like that they are called “rhythms!” Meaning: these are things that aren’t checklists kinds of things, but intentional practices built into the fabric of your family routines.

Daily Practices: Two intentional spiritual touch points

1) Scripture reading and prayer together as a family at either breakfast or dinner (use an age appropriate Bible. We highly recommend The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones).

Shaping the family prayer time:

  • Everyone shares something they are thankful to God for
  • Is anyone sick/not feeling well? Pray for them.
  • Is anyone worried or anxious? Pray for them.
  • Pray for our families Persons of Peace. (People who are spiritually open)
  • Pray for your Missional Community.

Read a Bible story together to learn about the character of God in His Word and participate in God’s world via the Scriptures. And then pray together. Here is a list of children’s story Bibles we are compiling @ Wesleyan Kids.

2) Goodnight word and prayer.

  • Tell your kids who they are each night so they go to sleep knowing this. An example: “Do you know who loves you? Mommy loves you. Daddy loves you and Jesus loves you most of all. Do know what you were created for? Love. Joy. Relationships and Adventure. We will always love you and always believe in you and nothing will ever change that.”
  • Prayer: Pray over them each night while they are young out loud, and as they are able to, have them pray.

My family has been practicing this for the last couple of years (ever since I first read this Children’s Ministry White Paper). Read more about that here. It’s amazing to repeat truth to your kids night after night!

Weekly Practices

1) Sabbath.

Have one day a week where everyone in the family is off work and the day is spent playing together. No yard work. No email. No chores. Maybe put their best toys aside and on that one day they play with their best toys. Make their favorite foods on that one day. Find out what they enjoy the most, what gives them the most joy and do those things on days of Sabbath. Sabbath is a day of re-creation, of having fun and enjoying the relationships that God has given us.

Whew! This is tough stuff!

2) Missional Community.

Be on mission together as a family, existing for a purpose outside of ourselves. This language might be helpful in explaining MCs to kids: “Why do we have a MC? It’s because we want to bring heaven to earth and want our friends to experience it too!”

We are part of a terrific small group full of young children. We have incredible babysitters for our children that do a great job of discipling and caring for them while the adults are talking. I know this is different than what this Children’s Ministry White Paper is referring to, but it works really for us right now. I wonder if, as our children get older, if we will transition to doing more and more things with our children more intentionally…

Bi-Weekly Practice

Once your kids are in 3rd grade, begin Huddling them every-other week so you are actively teaching them the basics of following Jesus and engaging with the two central questions of Christian spirituality:

  1. What is God saying to me?
  2. What am I going to do about it?

Answer those questions with them for yourself in your Huddle with them. These Huddles can be led by the parents of the kids or by another adult in the Missional Community (again, research showed a very high importance on adult relationships outside of just parents). Both are very effective in discipling kids. The crucial element is in it being a person they interact with outside of the context of just Huddle. They need to be able to observe their life outside of “God time.”

This seems to be more intentionally organized once every other week, which is good scheduled time. I like the idea of “huddling” as being when the teachable moments of life come about. When lies are uncovered. When contentment is challenged. When character needs to be refined and shaped. And don’t think that I am just talking about children here. As you disciple your children, I have found, at least in my experience, that my character is shaped and molded just as much as theirs is.

Organic Practice:

Regularly talk about what God is doing in your life with your spouse in front of your kids. Don’t do it so that you’re doing it “at them,” but so that they are overhearing a conversation and are almost getting to eavesdrop and listen in. This allows them to see that this is simply “normal” for their parents to talk like this (and hopefully it is normal).

More is caught, than taught.

My wife, Amanda, has cautioned me (chided me, at times) on the way I treat and talk with her, because our girls are watching, and how I treat Amanda is modeling to the girls what to expect from a man on how they are to be treated. Woah!

I know our children are watching us, but there are times when I don’t realize how much they are picking up on that I don’t realize.

Make this time count!

Your thoughts, critique and questions are welcome in the comments below!