Differences, like life-stage and culture, often challenge us to see how we might contribute to each other’s walk with the Lord.
During my sermon from our Family Worship Services at the Denton campus, I listed examples from Tim Chester and Ed Moll’s book Gospel-Centered Family to help us consider how everyone, whether young, old, single or married, can participate in building up the family of God:
- Include the people from the church family in your family time. It’s an indulgent myth that family time must be exclusive. Let people share in ordinary family meals… Be a family to single people.
- Involve your children in your hospitality. Don’t sideline them in favor of your guests. Get your children cooking and serving food. Include them in conversations. Encourage guests to interact with your children. Play games together – guests and children included. Think of hospitality not as a performance art, but including people in family life.
- Don’t think of your family as self-contained or self-sufficient. You can’t raise your children or nurture your marriage on your own….You need people who can advise on feeding toddlers or handling teenagers. You need people who can tell you you’re doing okay when it feels as if everything’s unraveling.
- You need the wider church family for advice, encouragement and challenge. Open your family life for other Christians to explore. From time to time, ask older Christians to give you honest feedback on what they see in your family life – especially if they’ve just spent time with you all.
- And you need to provide support to other families in your church family. Being a single parent is especially tough. Not only is the parent-child ratio doubled, but there’s next to no time off from children. We can’t be a husband to a single mum [mom] or a father to her children. But we can be substitute uncles and aunts.
- “It is not good for the man to be alone,” says God (Genesis 2 v 18). His immediate solution in the Garden of Eden was marriage, but marriage is not an option for everyone or at every time. So, if you have the space, have someone live with you and be part of your family.
- Many people have not grown up with good models of family life. They would really benefit from an opportunity to share in the life of a Christian family for a while before they start a family of their own.
- Think of ways you can involve your children in the life of your church – and not just in the children’s or young people’s ministry. Can they accompany you when you do ministry? Can they put out chairs or hand out song books? Can they visit any seniors?
- Encourage your children to build relationships with adult believers. And build relationships with young people yourself. We’ve found relationships between young people, and Christians who are older than them but younger than their parents, to be invaluable.