Christian Parenting at the Dinner Table

Rev. Dr. Steven Koster

February 11, 2014

Amid a culture that rushes through a meal, rather than towards sharing a meal, we are called as Christians to break bread and fellowship together. Like the believers from the early church, we are blessed when we devote ourselves to the teaching of the gospel and to praying for one another. This requires getting intentional and creative about how we structure our time together. Meetings, email, sporting events, and extra-curricular activities can easily consume all of the time we have available, and our family life and faith life take a back seat.

Our salvation was never meant to be a private matter--we are designed for fellowship. From the beginning Abraham was blessed so that he would be a blessing. Israel was set a part to be a light to the nations. We too are called to make our faith visible for others to see so they might be drawn to Christ. The first place this happens is within our homes, as we let God’s love for us overflow to our families. We choose to make our faith visible.

Time spent in conversation around the table is ideal for reconnecting with God and each other. These are precious moments, time to hear about the lives and hearts of your family. Ask everyone to share one important thing about their day. And as you share together God’s gift of food for your bodies, talk about the gifts of God you have experienced in the day. Share where you saw God at work today, drawing you deeper into your relationship with him.

Seize the teachable moment when your child asks a question or repeats something from school. Don't be afraid to talk about all areas of life from a biblical perspective. Don't be afraid to point out perspectives that run counter to the gospel. Normalize thinking about life from God's point of view in day-to-day table conversation. 

Encourage your kids to pray out loud and in front of everyone. Teach them from the youngest ages to lead all generations in prayer. Teach them to adore God, to confess heartbreak, to give thanks for God's gifts, and to remember before his throne those who are in need. Let the mouths of babes praise the Lord at the table!

And don't be quiet about quiet time--show your kids what it means to talk with God outside dinner times. Talk about what God is teaching you and how you struggle with living out different challenges of scripture. Get them their own Bible and devotional book to encourage them to spend time in God’s word at their own level of understanding. Then regularly gather them around the table for cookies and to share what they are learning. Our kids need to hear that we too are still learning and growing. There is never a point at which we can feel that we have arrived and can take our faith for granted.

Our kids imitate our behaviors and follow our passions, so let your faith be visible. Too often we set a poor example--we follow God half-heartedly, letting the busyness of life take first priority in our lives. Make it a priority to share your faith together around the table. Some days may be too busy for an extended conversation, but make time for nurturing faith around your table as often as you can. The investment in the faith of your family is worth so much more than another lesson or practice--invest in the faith of your children directly.

About the author — Rev. Dr. Steven Koster

Steven Koster is a writer, speaker, and producer with Family Fire. Formerly the Director of ReFrame Media, Family Fire's parent organization, Steven currently serves at Grace Church and consults on ministry through The Joshua Lab. He also leads a hospitality ministry at The Parsonage Inn and enjoys family tree research as time allows. Steven and his wife Deb enjoy leading marriage retreats and family seminars to encourage people in their most intimate relationships. The Kosters are the parents of three awesome young adults and reside in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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