63% of fathers who live at home with a child that is ages 0 to 18, say they eat dinner with their child every day. 27% say they eat dinner with their child several times a week. Only 8% said they shared dinner with their kids once a week or less.
Bottom line - many fathers eat the evening meal with their children. And if you strategically encourage fathers to make the most of this time, they can have of a great family discipleship opportunity.
As a children's ministry leader who is trying to empower parents to be the spiritual leader of their home, you can help them leverage this time for family discipleship.
Here are some tips to pass along to parents about not just eating with their kids, but also facilitating "dinner table discipleship."
Pray for the meal. Pause to thank God for His provision. Go around and have family members share something they are thankful for before you pray.
Provide parents with key questions from the past weekend's lesson at church. Here are some ways you can do this.
Hard copy take home paper. Rather than handing your take home paper to the kids, hand them to parents as they are leaving church. If you do this, you have a better chance of seeing them actually being used as opposed to seeing them on the ground in the church parking lot.
Text messages. Send parents a text message with a few key questions from the weekend lesson. Send it a few minutes before dinner time.
Place mat. I was recently at a church that does this. They create a place mat with questions and activities from the weekend lesson for parents and kids to do together.
Online family devotions. Create a web page or Facebook page that has questions and activities from the previous weekend lesson. Everyone can pull up the site on their smart phones and go through the follow up questions and activities together.
Here are some other things you can do for dinner table discipleship:
Ask open-ended questions that will get conversation started.
Take prayer requests from each family member and then pray for the needs.
Don't make it too long. Keep it at 10 to 15 minutes max. If you go longer, they may start checking out on you. Some of the things mentioned above can be done while the family is eating vs. after they are done eating.
Turn off the TV. In many homes, the TV isn't turned off until bed time. Families watch TV even during dinner time. Turn it off during dinner time. This will help kids (and parents) focus on conversation rather than what's on TV.
One of the places that is mentioned in Deuteronomy 6 for family discipleship is when you are sitting at home. One of best opportunities to do this, is when you are sitting at home around the dinner table.
We live in busy, busy times. Someone quickly prays and thanks God for the food. Then families rush through dinner and as soon as their plates are clean, they head their separate ways.
If you want to see the families in your church start engaging in dinner table discipleship, then emphasize it. Provide some simple tools they can use. Talk about it at church. Show parents the great opportunity they have to help their family grow in their faith.
We've heard the statement that says, "Families that pray together stay together." It is so true. Better yet, I think we can expand on that by saying,
"Families who do discipleship together, grow in their faith together."
Your turn. Share with us more ideas about discipleship at home. What have you seen be effective for this? What are some other tools or resources you recommend for seeing kids discipled around the dinner table? We look forward to reading your ideas and input in the comment section below.