The purpose of faith-talks is to restore Christian parents to their God-ordained role as teachers of God’s Word in their children’s lives. Your ministry may choose some term other than faith-talks, of course. “Family devotions” might communicate the point more clearly in your context; somewhere else, you could go with “family faith-training” or even “family time” or “family night” as the best description for a faith-talk. “Family worship” is a time-tested phrase from the Puritans. I used that term for several years—until I found out that, in the minds of a few parents, family worship implied leading a miniature church service in their house, complete with hymnals and liturgy! Since then, I’ve steered away from calling congregants to engage in family worship. In a few congregations, the venerable title “family altar” still makes sense. And yet, confronted with the idea of an altar for their family, contemporary families are less likely to think about teaching Scripture and more likely to wonder whether their neighborhoods are zoned for animal sacrifices—and perhaps whether the neighbor’s cat could constitute a kosher offering.
The name that you assign to faith-talks is negotiable; the practice behind the name is not. For parents to become primary disciple-makers in their children’s lives, parents must become Bible teachers in their homes. This is not to suggest that Christian parents should become their children’s sole instructors in Scripture. After all, the Great Commission to make disciples was given to the whole church as a calling to reach the whole world, including children (Matt. 28:19). Every Christian parent should, however, become a significant and consistent conveyor of God’s Word in his or her children’s lives.
Unfortunately, when it comes to coaching their children in the truths of God, many parents have no idea where to begin—perhaps, in part, because their churches have provided little training and no accountability for such a task. That’s why family-equipping ministry is so crucial. Church leaders who effectively equip families understand that one essential component in preparing God’s people for works of ministry (Eph. 4:12) is training parents to teach their children.
Here’s a simple expectation that I have seen effectively implemented in a significant number of churches: Parents choose a time once each week to lead a family faith-talk. The church encourages the parents, holds them accountable, and provides them with resources for this weekly faith-talk.
Why only once a week? First off, I claim no infallible rationale for leading a family faith-talk once a week. If you or your ministry leaders want to encourage family devotions more often than weekly, that’s something to discuss with God and to adapt to your particular context.
Still, I like the idea of a once-per-week pattern. I like this pattern because it’s rooted in the rhythms of creation itself (Ex. 20:11; 31:17), because it can reflect at home the celebration of Christ’s resurrection that happens every week at church (Luke 24:1; Acts 20:7), and because weeks mark times of worship and ritual throughout the Scriptures (Ex. 34:22; Lev. 23:15; Deut. 16:9–10). I also find once a week to be sufficiently frequent to make faith-talks a habit but not so frequent that parents become burdened with unrealistic expectations if they have never engaged in faith-talks before. In many households, weekly faith-talks eventually develop into daily family devotions.
Interested in attending a family ministry training event with me in January? Click here for more details.
Need further encouragement in pursuing family faith-talks? Click here.