During COVID, the majority of Americans ate more, drank more, watched more TV, worked out less, walked less, read the bible less, served less, and went to church less.
You would think that with less travel, more time at home, and less meetings at work that most would emerge from COVID with greater discipline, fitness, and family connection. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.
During this season, many people will have the opportunity to create a new schedule, new rhythms, and new habits. This article will focus on 5 family discipleship traditions we can choose to start now before the pandemic ends.
1. Eat together five nights per week as a family.
Five is an arbitrary number, but the act of eating together, talking with intentionality, maybe even cooking together, is a tradition worth fighting for. Ok, so maybe it’s 3 or 6 days a week? What matters most is not quantity but consistency.
Moms and dad, make a list of interesting and insightful questions that you ask at each meal. Since every family is very different, I won’t even begin to make a script. But, here are some wonderful principles:
- Pray at the beginning of each meal.
- Mom and dad, share what God is doing in your life or a verse He has taught you.
- Share a story about your life or childhood that makes a spiritual point.
- Ask one of your kids to share a verse, a story, a question, or something spiritual with the family.
- Make sure no one leaves until mom and dad say the meal is done.
2. Pray for each one of your children every night before they go to bed.
Bedtime is one of the most vulnerable and precious times, even if your kids are in high school. Here are some encouragements to make the time as meaningful as possible.
- Ask them if there is anything you can pray for them about or thank God for.
- Ask them if they would pray for you. Be appropriately vulnerable.
- When you pray, put your hand on their shoulder, head, or hand. It’s only awkward if you make it awkward or let them make it awkward.
- Let them know that you will be doing this as often as you can.
- If your older kids go to bed later than you, go into their room before you go to bed and pray with them.
- If they refuse, let them know you will be going into your room and you will be praying for them every single night. Let them know that when they are ready, you are ready. Healthy parents should seek to be unoffendable by adolescents whose brains aren’t fully developed yet.
3. Watch a Christian movie once per month.
My kids LOVE family movie nights. We don’t always watch Christian movies, but once per month, you could make family movie night non-negotiable because you are watching a movie that points everyone to Jesus.
Not all movies will be great, and that is ok. But the tradition of it will be long remembered and savoured as your kids grow up.
- Pilgrim’s Progress
- The Chosen TV Series
- The Passion of the Christ (for older kids)
- Chronicles of Narnia
- The Bible TV series
4. Engage weekly in corporate worship together.
The author of Hebrews tells believers not to forsake gathering together. Whether online or in person, attend church together every week if at all possible.
The beauty of online church is that we can watch our very own churches even when we are out of town.
One of the best practices for disciple-making families is serving weekly. 10 years ago it was standard operating procedure for Christians to serve weekly. Evangelical culture has begun to reject this notion and sees serving monthly or sporadically as “the new normal”. Unfortunately, this does not allow the needs of the church to be met well, and it fosters an attitude of “I’ll serve when it’s convenient,” rather than an “I am a servant” attitude in us and in our children.
Of course, new moms, parents with very young children, and parents of special needs kids may not be able to do this, and that is okay. But the practice of “serve one, attend one” on a weekly rhythm will be one of the most powerful and unforgettable disciplines you teach your children.
5. Monthly or bi-monthly date night with your kids.
Some kids may push parents away, but deep down in their hearts, God has wired them to need our connection, approval, and quality time. Last fall, I started monthly date nights with each of my kids. Was it convenient to my schedule? Not at all. Does it cost me money? You bet. Is it unforgettable? Indeed!
Not everyone is a “quality time” type of person, but despite our felt need for quality time, the soul of a child is wired for quality time with mom and dad just as the soul is wired for quality time with our God on a daily basis. I would encourage you to be creative with when, how, and who. The point is not to dictate how frequently, but to encourage consistency.
While these traditions won’t solve all your problems or make parenting any easier, they will deepen the relationships you have with your children, and, more importantly, point them to Jesus.