Exploring Spiritually Vibrant Households
What makes a Christian households thrive? What do thriving Christian homes focus on? What do Christian households look like today? and What things about a child’s home influences the way they live into their faith as adults? These were the questions that the Barna Group - a Christian Research group - set out to ask in their most recently published book, Household’s of Faith. I was lucky enough to attend their online webinar today and I wanted to take a minute to share some of their data that stood out.
The Barna Group surveyed 2,347 U.S. practicing Christians, including 448 teens (ages 13-17) throughout their data collection process. These participants came from a variety of different households arrangements and in fact, the majority of participants didn’t live in a nuclear family situation (Graphic A), which has been widely accepted as the norm for quite some time. During their research, they uncovered four key findings that they believe influence faith development.
First they found that kids are a catalyst for faith-related interactions. Or in other words, kids encourage households to ask questions and seek answers regarding faith.
Second they found that spiritually vibrant households typically revolve around fun and quality time spent together.
Third they found that faith formation correlates with hospitality. In fact, they mentioned that hospitality-minded households typically engaged with faith at a much deeper level.
Fourth they found that faith-based routines and beliefs are commonly cemented in childhood and impact faith development for a long time.
Defining Spiritually Vibrant Homes
If we take a look at the chart in Graphic B, we see that Barna’s research team divided up participating households into four different categories. Devotional households were households that reported regularly praying together, reading scripture, and/or intentionally talking about God at least 2-3 times a week. Hospitable households were households that reported inviting non-family guests into their homes 2-3 times a month. Dormant households were made up of Christian families that reported no significant engagement in devotional or hospitable practices. But the sweet spot, the situation wherein Christian formation seemed to be thriving was in the vibrant households. These are the households that reported to be both practicing spiritual disciplines and hospitality. In fact, the strongest engagement occurred in homes where spiritual devotions and conversations were being practiced with non-family guests.
The Vibrant Household
Naturally, the next question becomes, what characteristics make up a spiritually vibrant household. As can be seen in Graphic C, the Barna Group came up with five key themes that animate spiritually vibrant households:
Spends fun, quality time together
A spiritual coach is present
Asks for help
Members have a personal spirituality
Unfortunately, the Barna research team didn’t unpack all aspects of this infographic. But they did dive into the first two categories and provided some really powerful take-aways for us to consider.
Three Key Takeaways
Spiritually vibrant households practice presence. They are working on reducing the amount of time spent looking at screens and spending more intentional time together having interactive and genuine fun. The researchers noted: family walks, boardgames, family outings, and sharing general day-to-day feelings.
Spiritually vibrant households have at least one member that fulfills the role of spiritual coach. This is a household member who talks with the others about faith, forgiveness, the Bible, Christian tradition, sets an example about what living the Christian life looks like, and encourages them to attend church. Our families need spiritual coaches to help our kids build a resilient faith.
Spiritually vibrant households invite non-household guests to participate in spiritual practices and conversations. It is vitally important that we create a rhythm of discipleship in our homes. Once we do it’s important that we don’t change our family’s norms when others visit our household, but instead, that we invite others into them.
David Kinnaman, the President of the Barna group, closed the webinar by saying that in light of what they have learned, Christian households need to urgently turn towards deeper ways of interacting and passing on their faith. Then he asked us to consider the question, how do we do that?
Next Step: More homes need confident, well-equipped spiritual coaches to guide children into deeper relationships with Jesus Christ and that is what Constant Source is all about. We are passionate about providing Christian resources to parents so that they can grow in their relationship with Christ and then confidently step into their role as spiritual coach. If you’d like to learn more, check out our primary devotional resource Constant Source Weekly.
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