The Barna research group recently released their findings on what they call a spiritually vibrant family. These families comprise only about 1/4 of Christian families in our country. That information alone is a bit unnerving, because spiritually vibrant homes are the most likely to raise children to become active, productive Christians.
What was interesting about the study was the second group of parents. These were families who did a lot of the things we want parents to do at home – read the Bible, pray and have discussions with their kids about God. These families weren’t quite as successful as the group of spiritually vibrant families.
What was the primary difference between the two? What made the vibrant homes vibrant? Hospitality! Researchers aren’t quite sure if vibrant homes are hospitable or homes practicing regular hospitality become vibrant, but the correlation is extremely clear. (Note: Homes that were hospitable, but didn’t read the Bible, pray and talk about God were even less likely to raise children to become active, productive Christians.)
Unfortunately, hospitality has become a lost art in our world today. People rarely have others into their homes for any reason. Whether it’s from fear or a perceived lack of time, few families are practicing the hospitality their children need to give them that extra strength in their spiritual foundation.
As a Bible class teacher, you can do a lot to encourage parents to be hospitable. Here are some ideas to try:
- Model hospitality. Have families into your home for a snack or something really simple. Show them hospitality doesn’t have to be fancy or involve lots of extra work. In fact, keep your house a bit messy so they also won’t feel the pressure to pass some sort of inspection when they have people over.
- Encourage a rotating activity. Perhaps it’s a mother daughter Bible book club or a family Bible game night. Plan some sort of monthly activity where the parents take turns hosting in their homes. Be prepared to encourage the families who are most reluctant to have the group in their home. (Teaching your students how to have great manners in someone’s home will help!)
- Ask parents who already entertain to co-host a class event at the home of someone who doesn’t currently entertain. This can encourage the fearful person as they will have an “expert” helping them plan and execute the event.
- Encourage parents to take home each other’s kids for a Sunday afternoon. Some parents may want to form a habit of taking home each other’s children for the afternoon so the other family can have an afternoon for just mom and dad. Encourage small pairings so families aren’t overwhelmed with more kids than can fit in their car.
- Send home notes to parents encouraging and praising hospitality. In your regular notes home, remind parents of the importance of hospitality. Thank those who have entertained someone since the last newsletter. Issue challenges for families to entertain others during a specific time period – like at least three times during the summer. Don’t focus on the quality of the food or the home, but rather the personal interactions, because that is what is truly important.
Taking the time to help the families of your students be more hospitable can move their families into the spiritually vibrant category. It’s definitely worth taking the time and effort to encourage them.