5 Critical Elements of a Family Spiritual Growth Plan

christian family stewardship christian parenting general stewardship of family Dec 03, 2023
family spiritual growth

“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.”

 Colossians 1:10


 

Feeling like you don’t know where to begin when it comes to creating a family spiritual growth plan? You’re not alone! We don’t know the exact statistics, but we're guessing that more Christian families don’t have this family spiritual growth plan than do. When your children die, the only thing that will matter is whether they have faith in Jesus as their Savior. If you believe that’s true, a family spiritual growth plan is unequivocally the most important aspect of your family's parenting plan. In this post we will explore 5 critical elements for your family spiritual growth plan.

 

Element #1: Modeling

The following cannot be understated: children are always observing us. They will catch us at our finest moments as well as our worst. The following are some questions to consider when it comes to how you’re modeling a strong spiritual life for your children.

  1. Do your children observe your commitment to strong spiritual practices such as prayer and Scripture reading? Is this done individually, as a couple, and as a family?
  2. Have you made attendance at weekly church gatherings and Bible classes/studies a “practical priority” of your lives?
  3. Does the language you use around your children uplift and edify others, or does it tear people down?  Do they witness you gossiping or slandering your neighbors or brothers and sisters in Christ?
  4. Are you showing your children how to properly handle their emotions such as anger, sadness, and disappointment?  Do you hide these emotions from your children, or do you provide healthy ways for them to acknowledge and work through these feelings?
  5. Do your kids know that God’s best is your highest priority above all?  Have they “caught” you making decisions that reflect that priority, or would they say your work or your smartphone are truly your priority?

Pro Tip: Remember, modeling a Christian example for your children cannot simply be about outward appearances. Our kids are always going to be smarter than we give them credit for. Proverbs 4:23 tells us that the heart is the wellspring of life – as hard as we try to create a clean exterior, our kids will see through it so much more than we realize. If you are parents who have chosen to never disagree or fight in front of your children, consider whether they are still being taught to work through and resolve conflict. Will they be prepared for their own marriages?

 

Element #2: Teaching

You don’t have to be a professionally trained teacher to teach your children biblical truths. With the enormous wealth of information available to us via YouTube, podcasts, webpages (not to mention old-fashioned books!), it is easy to re-define your role as a parent who is “serving and plating” this information for your child rather than having to cook it up yourself. Time of Grace Ministry and Saddleback Kids on YouTube are a few of the online resources we regularly use in our home.

It can still be difficult to know where to start, but this is where we will reiterate how important it is to be committed to your own spiritual journey first and foremost. Here are some ideas of how to incorporate teaching into your family spiritual growth plan:

  1. Have a time of regular Bible reading and/or devotions together.
  2. Pray together, and teach your children about the purpose and gifts of prayer.
  3. Talk about the basic truths of the Bible. The dinner table and the bedside are two excellent places for these conversations. D. T. Niles once said that “Evangelism is just one beggar trying to tell another beggar where to get food.” It applies to our posture of sharing the Bible with our children as well. This time of teaching around the table does not need to be staunch and rigid – it should be founded on real-life experiences and couched in love.

 

Element #3: Corporate Worship

Worshiping together as a family is critical. If children see their parents (especially their father) attending church regularly as part of the family spiritual growth plan, they are much more likely to do so later on in life. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind regarding church as a family:

  1. The teaching your children receive at church should be in addition to what they are receiving at home, not instead of. Family relationships are so critical, and kids need to know that biblical truth is something their parents have a passion for sharing with them as well.
  2. Whether or not you’re a part of a Christian tradition who follows the liturgical calendar, consider learning about the seasons of the church year with your family. This can be a great way to help your children anticipate the seasons to come from a Christian perspective rather than simply a worldly perspective.
  3. Take a look at some traditional Christian hymns. Maybe your congregation sings hymns regularly, or maybe it is geared more toward popular praise music. Either way, taking a look at some traditional Christian hymns together as a family can be a beautiful practice of learning theology, church history, and even poetry.

 

Element #4: Talk about the Lord!

If we truly believe that the Lord is at the helm of our life, that prayer is important, and that the Scriptures hold the truth we need – we should be talking about it! Luke 6:45 says that what is in our hearts will come out of our mouths. Here are some questions to provoke your thought:

  1. When something exciting happens in your family, are you quick to give the credit to the Lord?
  2. When something difficult happens, such as a major disappointment or death in the family, do you point your kids back to what the Bible teaches about those things?
  3. How do your kids hear you speak about one another, them, and your neighbors?  Are your words full of grace and encouragement or criticism?
  4. Do your kids hear you getting excited about new biblical truths that you are learning?

 

Element #5: Create Routines 

Part of your family spiritual growth plan should include what routines you will commit to so that the important things in your life do not get neglected. Some things to remember:

  1. Kids thrive on routine. Predictability is such a gift for them. If you have a regularly scheduled time for a daily devotional, family prayer time, etc., they are much less likely to show opposition.
  2.  Living out your family spiritual growth plan does not need to be a chore, and it should not be – our Christian lives should be marked with joy. If they are not, it provides us a great opportunity for personal reflection to discover what is getting in our way of a contagious spirit.
  3. Make it fun! Nothing in the Bible says we can’t have fun when praying or learning about God. Keep your conversations lighthearted (when appropriate) and don’t feel like you have to keep an overly serious or contemplative tone at all times. Try to keep a good balance when you’re trying to keep kids on track. Discipline and attentiveness is important, but you also do not want to create a precedent that this time together is to be dreaded.

 

Personal Story

Our youngest daughter, Lily, sometimes asks deep spiritual questions. We hope that this is at least in part due to the high priority we have placed on making life with God an important part of our family routine. She asks questions about creation, death, heaven, hell, the devil, the flood, David and Goliath – something new every day! 

These conversations often come up at bedtime. We believe that one-on-one bedtime with our children is almost a sacred time.  We all slow down long enough to really hear one another and reflect on the important things in life. Lily feels comfortable asking these questions because we have made conversations about God and Bible stories a regular part of our family life. Again, we aren’t perfect!  But our prayer is that you might join us in seeking the Lord together to see what He might have for our families.

 

Key Points:

  •  The spiritual growth plan is the most important aspect of any Christian parenting plan and vision.
  •  A family's spiritual growth plan should be fun and easy for both the children and the parents.
  •  Your family's spiritual growth plan should be taught and modeled at home and prioritized alongside formal church worship.

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