Thursday, July 23, 2009

Family Meetings

My husband recently instituted family meetings. This is a time that we set aside to come together as a family and grow in the Lord.

We decided to have our meetings each weeknight after baths and before bed. This would allow us to have a set schedule leading up to bed. Also, my husband is currently leaving for work around 6:15am, so morning meetings are not practical for our family.

The reason we call these family meetings is because the two older boys have heard us discuss Dad’s meetings for work or ministry. They know that meetings are very important and very grown-up. They enjoy being a part of something so significant. We add to this importance, I believe, by also keeping it a priority in our schedule. When we skip family meeting it makes it appear less vital than it really is.

We begin each meeting with prayer. This is followed by dispensing rewards to the children for behavior throughout the day. These rewards are awarded for godly behavior exhibited. Attributes rewarded include cheerfulness, perseverance, patience, kindness, gentleness, selflessness. We also reward the children for any progress in ceasing negative behaviors. Examples of this might be an award for not throwing a fit when you don’t get your way; staying calm and not retaliating when you are hit; or using your words calmly and respectfully to resolve a dispute instead of lashing out and hurting someone physically or emotionally. Click here to read more about our "minute" reward system.

Next we read a modern devotional called "Keys for Kids." This is a free publication by CBH Ministries. You can find out more here.

We always look up the scripture references and read from the Bible to reinforce the fact that all of our learning in godliness comes from the Word of God. The devotionals are one way that we open our children’s understanding to the application of the Word. It helps tremendously with the very difficult task of making abstract teachings into concrete wisdom for daily living.

After discussing this story we move to a passage from Little Visits with God: Devotions for Families with Small Children by Allan Hart Jahsmann and Martin P. Simon. We use the 1964 printing of this family classic. I like this version for its use of language and simple lessons. The questions at the end of the lesson are easy for my 5 year old to answer and my 3 year old can often chime in with a question about the details of the story.

I have not studied the newer editions of Little Visits with God. Many editions of this book can be found on Amazon. I think I prefer to stick with the classic version (originally published in 1957) as it makes me feel connected to what my grandmother might have read to my father. I know that she faithfully prayed for me until the day she went to be with our Lord. She was a loving example of Jesus my entire life.

The next section of our meeting varies. Sometimes we have Bible quizzes. This is my oldest son’s favorite because he can often beat his parents to the answer. My daughter’s favorite use of this time is looking at the Evangecube. Michael guides the children through the salvation message with the 5 year old taking the lead in narrating the pictures. Hannah loves to hold the cube and look at the pictures. What I would like to do next with this tool is to teach my children the scriptures that directly correlate to each image on the cube. This will make the cube truly educational and beneficial in instruction. You can learn more about this teaching tool here.

After this time we go around the table and ask each person to say something they are thankful for. Now and then Mike will change it up and have us say something nice about someone else in the family. In any case, we are all encouraged to participate and use our mouths for thanksgiving and blessing.

Sometimes we do communion during our meetings or we talk about prayer requests that we have. Mike mentioned recently that he wanted to add worship songs to our meeting times. We have also considered adding scripture memory to reinforce qualities that we believe our family should exemplify everyday. We might occasionally read from my favorite children’s Bible storybook Kid’s Bible Story Book by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut. This is one of the best books for children because of the vivid storytelling. I also appreciate that my children have to listen harder when there are no pictures to distract them. These stories are not watered down for children. But they are accessible. This book is no longer in print but you can find it at a deceptively low price here.

We are just starting out on this journey. I am not sure what the future holds. I am sure that God is in our midst as we gather in His name. He is growing us closer as a family as we grow closer to Him through study and prayer.

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