Families today are stretched more than ever.
Activities of all kinds compete for the time and attention of Dads, Moms & Kids. In this fast-paced world, how can we slow down enough to grow our family’s faith?
Going to church is an obvious first step. But how do you augment your family’s faith day-to-day? My suggestion is to start with meal-time.
Meal time in your home can become a daily touch-point for your family. With a little bit of effort, you can grow your family’s faith, as well as your connections to each other. Over time, this powerful dynamic can, quite literally, change the course of your family’s future.
Here’s 7 Steps to Make Family Meal Time God Time
1) Pick a Meal Time
If the thought of choosing a daily meal time where everyone can sit down together induces panic, then it might be time to rethink your schedule. Sure, some families work different shifts. And even my family misses this connect occasionally. But as a rule of thumb, if you’re so scattered that one meal a day is out of reach routinely, maybe it’s time to make some space to connect.
2) Ban Devices from the Table
I’m an iPhone junkie. So is my wife and our oldest daughter. So we ban phones, iPods, Leap Pads, all devices from the table. If we have them in our hands, on our seat, or in our pockets, we will look at them. It’s that simple. In order to respect the rest of our family, we don’t answer calls, texts, or any other notifications during meal time. It’s blocked out for face-to-face interaction. We also turn off the TV in the other room so we can minimize distractions.
Some of you may need to look into a 12-step program in order to pry yourselves, or your kids, away from their devices. But believe me, once you rediscover the power of true face-time, you’ll be hooked.
3) Pick a Bible
Choose a Bible that’s easy to read and that you don’t mind getting food on. Then keep it on the table. If you keep it in another room, you’ll forget about it within a week. Just make it an ever-present reminder that meal-time is God-time. Our 3rd daughter, who is 6, has the job of opening up to our selected Scripture daily. She’s learning how to navigate the Bible daily.
4) Pick a Book
You don’t need a complicated reading plan. Just start with one small section of one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John). We started with Matthew. Reading one small section daily only took a couple of minutes daily over several months. But we were surprised with how quickly the kids expected the reading and looked forward to it.
5) You Go First = You Go Last
At our table, we pray (our 5 year old leads us), and then I read the Bible out loud while Mom serves the kids and herself. Waiting a few more minutes to eat is a small price to pay in order to make sure my family gets fed spiritually. I admit that most of the time I’m so hungry I just want to take a bite. But the short wait is worth it. I hope it communicates to my wife and children that providing for them spiritually is a top priority for me.
6) Keep it Short
I love God’s Word. I love reading it, studying it, teaching and preaching it. But this short God-time at the table has to be kept short. Sure, once in a blue moon the older kids will linger after dinner, curious about God’s ways as displayed in His Word. But this is a rarity. In order to keep it consistent, I have to keep it brief. If I make it a drudgery, it will turn from a blessing into a burden.
7) Let Conversation Happen
You know what my favorite part of this is? It’s when I get done reading and start eating. No, it’s not just because I’m hungry. It’s because as I let God’s Word register with my children, they will inevitably ask questions and make observations that would never have occurred to me.
God’s Word is “alive and active”. I get to see this truth come to life often as I shut my mouth and listen to my children. Then I can respond to their questions, encouraging them to think clearly about who God is and how He relates to us.
I hope you can turn meal-time into God-time.
If you do, you will step into the ancient flow of faith being handed down from one generation to another. As you leverage the seemingly fleeting moments of your day, you will chart a path of faith for your family that will endure through the ages.
As Moses told the families that made up the nation of Israel:
6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 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. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.(Deuteronomy 6:6-9)