family-on-couch

Honestly, Do Your Family Devotions Ever Look Like This?

Parenting //

I came across this blog post and could not stop laughing as I pictured the various actions and words being spoken. With permission, I have reposted this article by Sankie Lynch, Pastor of Families at New Beginnings Church in Bixby, OK.

Come follow us for a look at a typical Lynch Family Faith Talk!

Many times we move through five stages of progression:

  1. Beginning
  2. We’ve Gone Slightly Off Track
  3. Heated Escalation
  4. What I like to call “Faith Talk Failure!”
  5. Finally to Repentance (by the somewhat frustrated though well-intentioned parents)

Take a peek at us around the table.

1. Beginning

Dad (me): “So boys…why did these people pray to and worship false idols instead of God?”
Jackson: “God.”
Owen: “No…not God. That’s not the right answer Jackson!”
Sankie: “Because…cause…cause…uhhh…cause we’re supposed to love God most.”
Dad: “Right Sank. God is the only true God who is worthy of our love and devotion. Other things distract our hearts and begin to capture our love and affections in ways that were only meant to be towards God.”
Jackson: “God.” (head drops below the table as he falls off his chair)
Dad: “Jackson, get back up in your chair and listen. Stop dropping off your chair.”
Dad: “What are some things that attract our eyes and cause us to desire them?”
Owen: “Umm…Umm…the other day on Wild Kratts there was a bug that ate another bug and…”
Sankie: “No. That’s not what we’re talking about! That’s not an idol…and it wasn’t even a bug. It was a…”
Owen: “Yes it was! It was a beetle bug and it had a hard shell and…”
Jackson: “Bug? Bug?……..Bug bug bug bug. I like bugs…buuuuuugs.” (drops off chair again–hits chin and bites tongue–starts crying–Owen acts out same action to show us what Jack did when he hurt himself–Sankie and Owen start mock crying–cue even-more-frustrated Jack)

2. We’ve Gone Slightly Off Track

Dad: “Ok…ok…let’s think back to our question! What are some things that attract us that may become idols in our hearts if left unchecked?”
Sankie: “Video games…movies…”
Owen: “Yeah, yeah…tv and candy. I love candy. Mom, can I have a Reese’s?”
Mom: “No. Owen pay attention.”
Jack: “Me too…I want a Reese’s.”
Dad: “No. Nobody’s getting a Reese’s.” (cue crying by Jack)

3. Heated Escalation!

Sankie: “See, you love candy more than God, Owen.”
Owen: “No I don’t! You love video games more than…”
Sankie: “No! I love God like I’m supposed to. You don’t!”
Jackson: “I love God candy. Can I get down now?”
Dad: “No! Everyone needs to just calm down and sit still. We’re finishing this faith talk! So just sit down and shut it!”
Dad: “Now where were we?? Ok, what is something people love more than God?”

4. Faith Talk Failure: Completely Lost It!

Owen: “Are we finished yet?”
Sankie: “Can I play the Wii?”
Dad: “Boys, we’re in the middle of our faith talk. We haven’t even finished our questions or started the activity time! Everyone sit down and listen!”
Owen: “No! It’s my turn to play…you got to play a long time…”
Jack: “I want to play…” (falls off chair under table again–Owen walks off)
Sankie: “Hey…you can’t leave…you can’t play the Wii.”
Mom: “Jack get back in your chair and Owen get back over here!”
Dad: “That’s it…everyone’s in timeout!! No one’s doin anything fun for the rest of the night! And if you complain or move all the stuffed animals are headed to the trash! You boys can’t sit still for ten minutes without…(long pause)…well let’s close in prayer.”
Jack: “God.”

What follows is a close resemblance of either the prayer at the dinner table in National Lampoon’s: Christmas Vacation or the prayer by Clark after the dog and squirrel had chased through the house destroying his dreams of the perfect family togetherness.

5. Repentance (by the parents failing the faith talk)

We, the parents, sit with a glazed over thousand-yard stare that only trained snipers should have. The thoughts of “if only” and “why can’t our kids be _______” running through our heads. Add the guilt of “what am I doing wrong?” and “what if we never get this parenting thing down?” fill our hearts. Again, fear and frustration take over. Enter the grace of Jesus Christ. Repentance granted.

Do you ever start out with good intentions with your family and end up frustrated and breathing heavily? What correlations does parenting have with high blood pressure and barely missed strokes? What used to be relaxing, calm vacations have now turned into “Survivor: Family Mode.” Do you ever think up plans of being intentional with your family only to have them ruin it? Yeah, that seems to be part of God’s plan. For whatever reason, He decided to show us our continual dependence upon Him as we parent instead of allowing us to have perfect little robots who impress the socks off those around us. Or at least that’s the case with us.

We don’t have a perfect family. We don’t have perfect kids. They don’t have perfect parents. We’re not in the ballpark. Not even the region of the ballpark. Not even close. Life is messy. Parenting and discipleship get real messy. We continue to set goals and try really hard–but it rarely works out as it did in my mind before we started. I’ve got to be ok with that. I don’t want to be such a rigid parent that my children are perfectly still little robots who are possibly learning to fake external behavior (because daddy is bigger and enforces rules) while never understanding the heart change needed and provided through the gospel.

This past Thursday, I was with some of our pastoral staff in Dallas at the D6 Conference for family ministries. Dr. Timothy Paul Jones, who is one of the most influential and experienced thinkers in current family ministry led some workshops and the last main session of the conference. One of the most impressive things to me is not his expertise in this area–but his humble way of communicating our need for intoxicating grace and fixed dependence on what Christ has already done–instead of our own pragmatic performance. In one of his books, Family Ministry Field Guide, he states that people all over want to know what steps to take to make family equipping take off in their churches. His answer is not very popular. He first asks the leaders, “What have you done the past seven days to disciple your family in your own home?”1

Dr. Jones goes on to say that leaders MUST be trying to live this out in their own homes–not just telling others that they should do it. The point is to “be” before you “do.” Family equipping doesn’t start in board rooms or administrative meetings, but in the homes and living rooms and dinner tables of those who want to lead their families towards Christ. Pastors and leaders who don’t want to disciple their own families in the home are like mechanics who never work on their broken down car or plumbers who never fix their own leaky faucet.2

I tell you that to let you know that we are sold out to this idea of family equipping–not because you have to do it to be on staff here–not because its the newest idea for church growth–and not even because of the trend of youth leaving the church after graduation. We do it because we believe Jesus is worthy of dedicating time to Him in our homes in the same way we worship Him on Sundays. We also believe that this is in obedience with what we see in Scripture. But as we do it–we fail to make it perfect. Our kids act out and sin. And sometimes we act out and sin along with them while trying to lead them. So please know that we’re down in the trenches with you–struggling with you–and failing often with you. So come…follow a fellow failure! But there is an all-sufficient Jesus who can take our lame failures and captivate hearts.

Let’s be found faithful in pointing them to Him!

1.Timothy Paul JonesFamily Ministry Field Guide (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing, 2011) 138.
2.Ibid, 139.

Sankie P. Lynch
Pastor of Families

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About the Author

I've been married for 9 years to Amanda Mavis and we have two daughters named Sari andMacie. We live in Hayward, WI and I serve as a Pastor with Youth and Children and their families @ Hayward Wesleyan Church. In conjunction with my role as a pastor, I work for The Wesleyan Church denomination and the division of Church Multiplication and Discipleship in Children’s Ministry. I serve as the interwebs expert. Together we connect, train and resource anyone who disciples kids.