My favorite ways to empower families

Fostering spiritual conversations


by Mark Entzminger/ May 30, 2016

Let’s face it, the church has not cracked the code on how to help Mom and Dad feel confident in having spiritual conversations with their children.

However, if we are going to change the story for this generation of children’s children, then we need to do something that will begin to bridge the gap.

No parent likes the feeling of knowing less than their child does. I mean, let’s be real, have you had to ask your elementary child to help you fix your smartphone? It’s a bit humiliating. Not to mention trying to have a spiritual conversation about a story from a 2,000 year old book when they had a 90-minute lesson about it and all we have is a handful of questions.

So how can we fix it?

There are a couple activities that I think help bridge the gap. Some of them you could implement immediately, others may take a bit more work and planning to fit into your church environment.

  1. Pre-Teach: If we truly believe that the home is the birthplace of discipleship, then we should be empowering the home to have the INITIAL conversation about the spiritual topic and lesson. Most curriculum resources have a take-home resource that has follow up questions and even a passage of Scripture to read. By sending this home the week prior, parents have the opportunity to introduce the topic to their child rather than follow up on the lesson.
  2. Homefront Magazine: My friend Michelle Anthony (children’s pastor at New Life church in Colorado Springs, CO) has created a monthly magazine that is filled with activities and conversation starters that are designed to fit into the flow of everyday conversation in the home. The goal of this is to move beyond a specified time for conversation, and to have those faith-filled talks at any time.
  3. Zoos and Science Centers: Do you know what the red-tailed, ring-neck, Madagascar lemur eats? (Not even sure that’s a real animal.) Most parents don’t either. But when you go to a zoo, you’ll find that they help parents and kids learn together by being involved in active learning (as opposed to passive, sitting—environments). Usually the parent walks over to the information card to get the inside scoop and then asks the child a question or reads it to them. Couldn’t we model the same kind of approach? What if a church created an experience where families explored the Beatitudes, or creation, or the launching of the early church in a way that allowed them to journey through the learning environment much like a zoo or science center?
  4. Conversation Starters: Sometimes all that parents need is an idea and a challenge. What if you challenged every family to set aside Tuesday night as family night? Encourage family dinner (made together), eating together, no technology, etc., and then provide them with a selection of conversation starters, like these:
    1. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
    2. If you could have a meal with anyone in the world, who would it be?
    3. If you could fix any problem in the world, what would it be?
    4. If you could meet any character in the Bible, who would it be and why?
  1. Encourage Blessings: Your words are more powerful than you realize. I’m sure without much effort you can replay a statement that someone made when you were a child that still echo in your head. Why not create a movement where parents determine to use their words to bless their children? Let’s set the example of a home where kids expect life to flow from the mouths of their parents rather than one where they tune them out.

These activities and dozens more can help you get to know your kids and begin a new conversation in the home.

The goal of empowering families is to help create environments where talking about faith and spiritual matters takes place every day in the normal flow of life.