Today, Erin, aka The Social Butterfly Mom, is sharing her perspective on how churches can support parents practicing faith at home. Erin is one of the super-engaged moms in our church and in our community. She brings fresh honesty, insights, and ideas to our children’s ministry. And, she sends me adorable videos of her two-year old reciting the Lord’s Prayer in her minivan! Not only a fantastic mom to two spunky boys (who love our kaleidoscope windows), she is also a cabaret performer, fundraising event chair, top-notch cook, and French teacher. Note to all my fellow Christian educators, recruiting her is forbidden. But, do visit her blog!
Erin, the other day you mentioned that you would be using the children’s Bible the church gifts to all of our kindergartners in your family meetings. I’m curious, what is a typical family meeting like?
Our typical family meeting is every Sunday morning as we eat breakfast. (But we even had this past week’s in the car, because, well: life happens.) They can run as short as five minutes and as long as 15…although the three year old has wandered from the table by then. We start with a Bible verse, respond to/discuss it, do individual check-ins, look forward at the coming week’s plans, and end with The Lord’s Prayer.
How did you get started doing family meetings?
The book that really inspired me was “The Parenting Breakthrough” by Merrilee Boyak. She raised four boys, and much of the book focuses on teaching her sons to do chores/life skills, and how to build a strong family unit. As with most parenting books, I did not agree with everything she had to say, but I did like the family meeting. She stressed that you didn’t want to wait until the kids were teenagers, and you had real issues on your hands, to start holding a family meeting; get into the habit at a young age. From there, I read the book “Passing It On: How to Nurture Your Children’s Faith Season by Season” by Kara Lassen Oliver. I followed Oliver’s format to create our own for family meeting (what you see above).
What are some of the challenges you encounter incorporating faith prac
tices at home?
I feel pretty clueless at times. My husband and I were raised Catholic, and we feel that we just went through the motions. The six year old will ask questions- good questions- that I don’t have the answers to. Sometimes, it’s merely a question of remembering to say grace at dinner, or do that Advent reading, because we fill our life with so much other “stuff.”
Can you share a story of a time your kids surprised you with a question about God?
“Who is God?” was a question that my oldest asked me. There are so many ways to answer this question. To buy myself time to think, I did what I normally do, which is to respond with, “Who do YOU think God is?” We discussed it together, and also asked the pastor the following Sunday. (“Let’s ask the pastor/youth director” is also a great way to get your kids approaching adults that they may normally not approach.) Although more Jesus-related, we also had one family meeting where we had a really good
discussion about the word “integrity,” which is not easy to explain. My husband and I use storytelling a lot to illustrate concepts like this.
I’m hoping you will be honest with me here, how has our church supported your family’s faith at home?
Our church has absolutely supported and encouraged my family to pray, read the Bible and serve others, outside of church Sundays. Every night before bed, we sit together and say our “thankfuls” from the day. While we’re only reading the Bible together once a week, it’s one more time than we were six months ago. (Mental note: what’s a good daily devotional for little ones?) Our church organizes age-appropriate service activities, which are accessible for my children. These events are more fun for my kids (and me, too), because they have friends who also participate.
What else can I and/or the church do to help you with the challenges you mentioned above?
I’ve said this before, but I truly mean it: just keep hounding me. As parents, we all have good intentions, but we’re living in a time when we fit too much in. I really appreciate the reminders via email or text about what’s going on in the life of our church. As for the questions that I feel I can’t answer, it’s great to have a living resource- YOU!- who I can go to and ask questions that may have just been posed to me. Participating in the adult Bible study that was offered also furthered my own understanding of faith, which then I can pass on to my children.
Erin, thank you for the real conversation about family and faith. I know many Christian educators are looking for ways to help busy, engaged, and dedicated parents like you. I hope that our chat will inspire more conversations between children’s ministers and parents. Be sure to send me the next super-cute video of your boys!