Home Church Snapshot
"Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church,
consecrated to Christ, and wholly influenced and governed by his rules." - Jonathan Edwards
In Deuteronomy we are instructed to teach our children diligently as we sit in our house and walk by the way – when we lie down and when we rise up, but how do we do that? What does discipleship look like in modern households and how do those routines change/adapt as kids grow and we enter new seasons of life? These are questions we are constantly trying to answer. We don't always get it right but over the years we have found some solid routines that help to ensure the most important things are being scheduled into our daily lives.
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Duet. 6:6-7
I blogged a lot about at-home discipleship several years ago but I thought it might be helpful to give a "snapshot" of our current routines now that our kids are a little older - currently almost 9, 7 and 4.
We mix things up for holidays (like Advent) or to accommodate weekend activities etc., but for the most part, we are doing the following things every day:
Early Morning – My husband and I have our own time in the Word most mornings before the kids wake up. We both enjoy those quiet moments with coffee and the Lord before diving into the day. The kids often wander downstairs while I'm finishing up and I am pleased that they see me starting the day with a Bible in my lap. (I used to read Scripture on my phone but was encouraged to read from my actual Bible so the kids would understand that I'm not just surfing social media. I thought that was good advice!)
Breakfast – Homeschooling offers us the option to have a more leisurely breakfast during which I read our History lesson (from a Christian world-view) and lead the kids in a prayer for the day.
School – As part of their schooling, the boys are assigned a specific Scripture passage to look up in their Bible to be copied for handwriting. They are slowly learning to navigate their Bible and occasionally they will come across a verse they have heard or memorized before and it's cool for them to see the verse in it's larger context.
Scripture Memory – 2 years ago I developed an ABC Scripture Memory system that you can download and print here. We used to learn and rehearse these at the breakfast table but now keep them in the van and practice them once a week while driving back and forth to Ninja class. (It seems appropriate to practice your "fighter verses" on the way to Ninja...right?)
Quiet Time - This is an hour and a half in the middle of the day when all the kids go to their own rooms with books and toys and I read and drink coffee and recharge for the second half of the day. To kick off this time we all lay on the floor and listen to a classical song for 5 minutes and practice the art of "being still". Scheduling quiet is important for my introverted self, but it benefits the entire family in that we are learning to be comfortable with silence and solitude and margin; all of which are important spiritual disciplines. Think about it, we teach our kids that's it's important to read the bible, talk with God and listen to God and then we pack their schedules so full of noise and activity that they don't have any time to practice these spiritual disciplines! And the same could be said for us parents. We all need moments of quiet scheduled into our days to think and meditate on scripture and rest - moments where we can be still and know God.
Dinner – While we sometimes only have 20 or 30 minutes to be all together in the evening, dinner time is a priority - a hill I'll die on. We say ‘no’ to many activities that would compromise this time and work hard to sit down together 5 or 6 times a week. Family fellowship is the goal and, when time allows, I try to make dinner seem like a special “event” by serving it in the dining room, with candles or music or a bowl of questions to keep conversation flowing. Because our kids are still young, many dinners still involve someone crying over a particular food they don’t enjoy or someone being sent to their room for fussing or someone falling off their chair and needing medical attention. While dinner time is not always the “beautiful moment” we dream it will one day be, we are laying the foundation during these early years by establishing the routine and expectation that our family will sit down and break bread together and pray and talk every day. (If your dinner situation is currently wrought with drama and tantrums, don’t give up! Better times are coming!)
Bedtime – At 8:30pm everyone gets ready for bed and piles into whichever bedroom has the cleanest floor for family devotions. For many years we read from devotionals. (You can see some of our favorites here.) Currently we are simply opening the Bible and reading through the book of John. (A few verses each night.) Monday through Saturday we have prayer all together – each family member taking a turn praying - we sing a worship song (which usually involved some dancing) and then it's off to bed. On Sunday evenings, we skip our devotions and Ben and I meet each child in their bed to pray over them individually. Hearing our kids pray gives us wonderful insight into what is going on in their hearts. What is worrying them or occupying their thoughts? And when our children hear us pray they are learning God’s language. They are learning to pray by hearing it modeled each night.
All of these routines are short and simple which is key for longevity. When you establish spiritual rhythms in your home your children will grow in wisdom and knowledge AND they will also benefit from the example of consistent, day-in, day-out discipleship. We pray these spiritual habits will serve them long after they have left our home!
What about you? What spiritual rhythms or routines are working in your current stage of life? I'd love to hear from you! firstname.lastname@example.org