New Family Traditions

It has been a week of really, really wishing our sweet baby boy was home in our arms. These last several months have been so great for us! We have had so many awesome conversations about the upcoming start of our family! One of our all-time favorite Pastors, Mark Driscoll, just started a new sermon series on 1st and 2nd Peter. We tune in every week for his sermons and are also going through the 200 page study guide he wrote for the series. One tradition that he mentioned back during his Song of Solomon series had to do with his dinner table. This is one tradition we do as a couple now and are excited to continue it, and further develop it as we add children around our table! Check out this introduction to the Family Resources section of his study guide. (He provides questions from his sermon for use during the week as parents train their children).
Dinner is one of the great highlights of my day. Why? Because I get to sit in my
home with the woman I love, laughing, chatting, and eating with our five children
whom we deeply love and enjoy. Every time I sit at the table with my family I am reminded of the words of Psalm 128:3–4, which says, “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD.” As Scripture says, I am blessed. Some months ago we started a new tradition at the Driscoll dining table that
has also been a blessing. Whoever is taking their turn setting the table ensures that
our “dinner Bible,” as the kids call it, is sitting in front of “Poppa Daddy,” as the kids
call me. Throughout the course of our dinner together, we chat about how the day
went, how everyone is doing, and whom we can pray for, and we discuss a section
of Scripture. Over the years we have always made it a point to read Scripture to
the children when they were little (especially at bed time), and help them develop
personal daily Bible reading habits once they learned to read for themselves.
However, we struggled to find a way to do regular family devotions with five children
of different ages and attention spans. Still, the dinner Bible discussions led by Grace and me have been a huge hit. Every time we sit down for dinner the dinner Bible is in its place on the table, opened to the section of Scripture we will discuss that evening by one of the enthusiastic kids. We often have some really insightful conversations around the dinner Bible as the younger kids, especially the boys, seem to be able to handle longer and more reflective discussions when their hands are busy as they eat. Also, with the casual conversation over dinner I have noticed that everyone gets an opportunity to speak as we take turns chewing our food, and our dinners last longer than they had before because everyone is engaged. The following steps are offered based upon my experience with our children over dinner. These steps are intended to help direct theological discussions between parents and their children while also building the children’s theological vocabularies so that they are increasingly familiar with biblical concepts.
Step 1. Eat dinner with your entire family regularly.
Step 2. Mom and Dad sit next to one another to lead the family discussion.
Step 3. Open the meal by asking if there is anyone or anything to pray for.
Step 4. Someone opens in prayer and covers any requests. This task should be rotated among family members so that different people take turns learning to
pray aloud.
Step 5. Start eating and discuss how everyone’s day went.
Step 6. Have a Bible in front of the parents in a translation that is age
appropriate for the kids’ reading level. Have someone (parent or child) open the
Bible to the assigned text and read it aloud while everyone is eating
and listening.
Step 7. A parent then announces the lesson’s “Word of the Day,” reading
the corresponding definition and/or paraphrasing the meaning at an age-
appropriate level.
Step 8. Ask the discussion questions written for each day’s lesson. If your kids
are older (i.e., junior high and up), you might consider using the community
group questions (beginning on p. 21) if they are better suited for your children.
Step 9. Let the conversation happen naturally, listen carefully to the kids, let
them answer the questions, and fill in whatever they miss or lovingly and gently
correct whatever they get wrong so as to help them.
Step 10. If the Scriptures convict you of sin, repent as you need to your family,
and share appropriately honest parts of your life story so the kids can see Jesus’
work in your life and your need for him too, which demonstrates
gospel humility.
Step 11. At the end of dinner, ask the kids if they have any questions for you.

The following discussion questions are offered in hopes of helping you and
your children grow in relationship with each another and Jesus. They are meant to
be supportive and not constraining. Therefore, do not feel bound by any questions
or pressured to follow the steps too rigidly. Follow the Spirit’s leading and don’t be a
religious parent who is rigidly inflexible, thereby making this sort of thing something
they must be do in duty rather than something they get to do in delight. If you miss a night, or if conversation gets off track, or if your family occasionally just wants to talk about something else, don’t stress—it’s inevitable. For your children, the point is to learn what they are thinking about God, to help them know and love Jesus as God and Savior, and to teach them how to articulate and explain their Christian faith. For parents, the point is to lovingly instruct children and each other, thereby creating a family culture in which every member freely and naturally talks about God and prays to him together. In short, the goal is simply that your family would open the Bible and grow in love for Jesus, one another, your church, and the world. Finally, remember that family Bible study requires a sense of humor. Be sure to have some fun, enjoy some laughs, and build some memories.
So there it is! I guess one way to pass all this waiting time is to start making new traditions and revamping old ones! We'd love to hear if you have any special ways that your family teaches your children about God.


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Mark and Cassie said...

Hello! Just found your blog and love it! We love Mark Driscoll and live just down the street from your agency! Check us out too! Blessings! Cassie