Many families in our church are hyperbusy and rarely have time for family devotions. How can our church encourage families to build good practices for faith to grow?
There are a lot of families that struggle to find time to be together. Reasons for this busyness vary from family to family, but one reason is we don’t want to miss out on anything. There are too many good options available to all of us. And, let’s face it, some of the things we’re flying off to are really good things: church meetings, volunteer opportunities, night classes, even prayer groups or Bible studies. They’re good things, but they all take time, and that is what is often driving this sense of extreme busyness.
The first thing your church can do is to encourage these families to attend church whenever they can. For some families that is also a challenge (for a variety of reasons), but we need to make them feel welcome and part of the group whenever they do come. The more we miss worship, the easier it is to feel disconnected from the community and from God.
We also want to give parents resources to help them build faith practices into the “in-between times” of their lives. Perhaps they can have faith conversations in the car when they’re driving to sports practice. One mother has the small book Everyday Faith in her car. She hands it to one of the kids and asks them to read one of the questions in it. That’s what they talk about as they drive 20 minutes to school.
Invest in Bible story books and begin to make those stories part of your lives. Read Bible stories at mealtimes, bedtimes, or first thing in the morning, and then talk about them. Use devotional books like Teach Us to Pray and include some of the rituals suggested there.
Finally, spend some time listening to families about why they’re so busy. Are they afraid of missing out on something? Are they letting urgent things push out important things? Don’t be judgmental in these conversations. It could be that they’re busy due to things outside of their control, such as finances or caring for an aged family member. Perhaps your church members could step up and help them.
There is no easy answer to this question, but encouraging families to be deliberate and intentional about their faith practices is a great way to start.
About the Author
Laura Keeley is a regional catalyzer in faith formation with Thrive, the ministry agency of the Christian Reformed Church. Robert Keeley is a professor emeritus of education at Calvin University. The Keeleys recently retired after 31 years as directors of children’s ministries at 14th St. CRC in Holland, Mich.