Spiritually healthy families come from spiritually healthy individuals who, on their journey together, seek to live “on script” each day. Spiritually healthy families are not made up of people who never mess up their lines, or forget whether to enter stage left or stage right – they are not perfect performers. But they are families working together as loving case members, discovering the intimate beauty of watching the character development of each person unfold-in the midst of the messiness.
Michelle Anthony, Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family, p.13
Next week we begin a book club to help us learn to live “on script.” When we realize that we cannot have spiritually healthy families without being spiritually healthy individuals, the pressure is really on. If we desire our families to be living the abundant life that Jesus offers, we have to take an honest look at the habits we have that keep us from joining the story God has planned for us!
I hope you’ll consider joining us for this book study. We will read a chapter a week and I will write an initial response on this blog to each chapter. If you care to share your own thoughts or responses, you can do so through the comments!
Get the book now on Amazon or at a Christian bookstore in order to begin reading on April 12th! The first chapter response will be posted on the 18th! Click here to read the post with complete reading schedule.
I look forward to learning to live “on script” with you!
Parenting Book Club!
Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family:
Avoiding the 6 dysfunctional parenting styles
Do you desire for your parenting to be spiritually healthy? If you want this but do not know how to get there, join us in a book study of Michelle Anthony’s, Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family. We will take time weekly to read a chapter and respond to discussion questions from the text with one another.
The goal is to encourage one another through our own self-reflection about ways our parenting functions and dysfunctions! Through the public discussion, you will find that you are not alone! We all need some help pinpointing what needs to be done different and sharing in this book club together is one way for us all to benefit!
Below is an excerpt from the back of the book:
Who’s in charge of your family: You or Jesus?
We all want to guide our children in to the abundant life that Jesus offers. But when we pursue the more and better that the world offers above our pursuit of Jesus, we fall into dangerous parenting habits.
In Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family, Michelle Anthony unpacks six common dysfunctional parenting styles that we fall into out of habit, lack of attention, or just oversight due to busyness. If you long to show your children Jesus but don’t know how to do it, you’ll find hope in this practical guide to creating a relentlessly grace-filled home that is focused on God as first in charge.
HOW THE BOOK CLUB WORKS:
- Comment below if you’d like to participate!
- Get the book! Check Amazon.com or local Christian bookstores.
- Check back each week (or subscribe!) and reply to the post about the chapter you’ve just completed. You can share your responses to the questions from the book or to the chapter in general!
Here is a schedule for the readings & responses (Initial response will be posted on the last day of the week!):
Chapter 1 – The Director and the Script
Chapter 2 – The Six Dysfunctions of Parenting
April 26th-May 2nd:
Chapter 3 – Kissing the World Goodbye
May 3rd-May 9th:
Chapter 4 – Free Indeed
May 10th-May 16th:
Chapter 5 – Beyond the Pursuit of Perfection
Chapter 6 – Relinquishing Control
May 24th-May 30th:
Chapter 7 – A Time to Bless
May 31st-June 6th:
Chapter 8 – Living a Meaningful Family Mission
June 7th-June 13th:
Chapter 9 – Beyond Good Behavior and Chore Charts
June 14th-June 20th:
Chapter 10 – Remember & Celebrate the Abundant Life
Back in January I got to hear Mark Scandrette talk about his faith community in California. I was captivated by what he had to say about the Jesus Dojo and decided to attempt something similar with our families at church over this past summer.
We decided that on Wednesday nights we would have “Family Dojo.” Dojo means “way of life.” We wanted our families to center their way of life around the teachings of Jesus. To do this we looked at short passages from the Sermon on the Mount, shared in some discussion then experimented with what it would be like to live those passages out during the week. The response was varied. Some families found it natural to “experiment” in this way, others it was forced. I wasn’t bothered by this since the goal was simply to discover practical ways of living out the ways of Jesus. If it proved difficult for families, then perhaps they were able to reflect on what may need to change about their family rhythm. Families that found the experiments fitting naturally into their lives said the kids would remind the parents of what they were supposed to do!
Below are links to the short devotionals I put together and offered to the families.
- Hokey Pokey
- Praying with Jesus
- Reminder Rocks
- Secret Mission
- Tattle Tale Boomerang
- Trading My Worries Away
- Turn That Frown Upside Down
- Yes Be Yes & No Be No
- You’re Already Bright!
I just started reading Dreaming of More For the Next Generation by Michelle Anthony. One chapter in, I am already impressed with the biblical foundation she lays for a family ministry paradigm. The end of the first chapter she invites readers to “reflect,” “respond,” and “dream” about what how might want to awaken us to more in our lives personally and in ministry to children and their families.
Here are a few of my thoughts.
“No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”
We are asked to describe our current wineskin. What a great question! From a family ministry perspective, I would describe our ministry to children and families as “Family Friendly.” The children and youth programs function independently but create opportunities for parents to get involved on some level. The discipleship of children is important and parents are viewed as having a crucial role but they must rely heavily on the programs provided. Little is done outside of the youth and children’s ministry to equip them to be more spiritually focused in their child-rearing.
In my six years working in children’s ministry this model has been a source of frustration at times. I think many times churches want to hire children’s ministers to oversee children’s programs and give a head-nod to the role of parents but are satisfied if mediocre content is taught by volunteers whose arms may have been twisted into plugging a hole on Sunday morning. This has not been the case in every classroom of my ministry career but in praxis has been the general result of the ministry as a whole when not everyone is on the same page regarding what successful children & family ministry looks like. The resulting fruit is families who are not only unequipped by their church family but even hindered in their ability because “spiritual formation is best left to the experts.” In the lives of children, fruit is measured in terms of ministry event attendance and levels of Bible knowledge and skill. We might even pat ourselves on the back if we feel that their Bible class attendance and knowledge of scripture affects the child’s behavior, though none of these provide an accurate measure of faith.
When we are faced with the choice to change the system, lay down our old wineskin in exchange for a new one, we panic or circle the wagons. We worry that without the old wineskins our children will not know the Bible. We become concerned that if children aren’t attending our program, they might not be spiritually formed anywhere. We place on a pedestal our old wineskin and claim that it worked for me when I was a kid without considering that the Spirit knew just what we needed at that time. Now, perhaps the Spirit is choosing for the growing generation a different vintage. The Spirit wants to pour out a new wine but our old wineskins can’t handle it. They will simply burst.
What if we were willing to create (or allow ourselves to be created into) a vessel worthy of the sweet wine the Spirit was ready to pour out? What would ministry to children and families look like that did this? Right now, I don’t know. But I do know that if the Spirit was being poured out and we had allowed ourselves to become a wineskin worthy of receiving him, we would be measuring success in terms of how well we cultivate an atmosphere where parents are primary.
What would your ministry look like if God were pouring out new wine on it?
This is Jhulon. He is an 8-year-old little boy from Bangladesh. He has made a huge impact on my daughter. We have been sponsoring him for about two years. Technically, our 6-year-old daughter is sponsoring him – it’s her name he sees when he gets a letter from us. She is also the one in our family that most fervently prays for him. Every night his name is the first thing that comes out her mouth when she starts her prayers. A letter we received from him describes his home life and living conditions and our compassionate daughter desperately wants God to give him running water in his house. She wants God to give him a house made of bricks instead of leaves. She wants him to have carpeted floors and an education. She never finishes a prayer thought without praying for the most important thing she desires for him…
That he would know how much God loves him.
We thought it would be a good idea for us to sponsor a child with Compassion International because we knew it would change the life of a someone. It has been amazing to see the role praying for this little boy has played in our daughter’s walk with God. She has a global perspective of what God is doing to redeem the world. Because of Jhulon, I am able to see just how God is working in my own daughter’s heart. Growing her. Stretching her.
September is blog month at Compassion. I have agreed to accept four blogging assignments from them in hopes that throughout the month, more children will be sponsored than ever before. If you blog, consider blogging for them. If you can, consider sponsoring a child. It’s made a big impact on a little 8-year-old boy in Bangladesh and a little 6-year-old girl in middle Tennessee.