By Rachel Sinclair
In a society flooded with demanding little league schedules, cheer competitions and tutoring appointments, it can be difficult to prioritize church involvement—let alone make time for spiritual conversations with children at home.
Statistics from Lifeway Research show the majority of churched young adults drop out of church at some point between the ages of 18 and 22. This reality begs the question—how can parents cultivate an environment where the Christian life is not about checking church attendance boxes, but about pursuing an active relationship with the Lord?
The answer is deceptively simple: if you want to have more spiritual conversations with your children, spend more time with them.
A study from Barna Research revealed households that ranked high in spiritual vibrancy—measured by spiritual practices, spiritual conversations and hospitality—were also homes that spent significant family time participating in everyday, secular activities.
For example, at least 85% of families who reported having spiritual conversations or sharing prayer or Bible reading together also reported eating dinner together, watching TV shows or movies together, and sharing feelings with one another.
“Our research finds that faith formation is best aided not just by services and sermons but by play and friendship as well,” said Brooke Hempell, Barna’s senior vice president of research.
With this information in mind, consider the following practical ways to make room for spiritual conversations in everyday family life.
1. Pray on the way to school.
If you drive your children to school in the morning, you have a built-in opportunity to demonstrate what it looks like to begin the day with prayer.
You can thank God for the day, pray over tests or quizzes, ask for safety with sports and much more. If you’re involved in a carpool, ask the other parents if they are comfortable with you praying before the school day. Including other children in your routine can be a great way to share God’s love right from your car!
2. Make dinner device-free.
“No texting at the table!” my mother used to say. Removing phones from mealtime forces everyone––parents included––to focus on the conversation at hand.
It can be helpful to have a basket where everyone puts their phone, which serves as a physical reminder that you’re all participating in this together.
3. Watch movies and TV shows together.
Consuming media through movies and television is a reality for American families. In fact, Common Sense Media reported that children ages 0-8 have an average of two hours and 19 minutes of total screen media time.
Through these mediums, children are undoubtedly exposed to different languages, lifestyles, decisions, and actions. Watching TV and movies as a family opens the door for parents to have important conversations with children about navigating real-life issues from a Christian perspective.
4. Build close family friend relationships.
Most households (91%) with spiritual vibrancy said that they have close friends in life who feel like family.
Fellowship among believers is an important part of the Christian life, and developing strong relationships with other families is a natural way for children to learn about hospitality, selflessness, friendship and graciousness.
5. Play board games.
There is nothing inherently spiritual about playing board games, and that’s perfectly OK.
Games are a timeless activity that bring families away from the screens and into real-time conversations. Of course games teach lessons about competition, teamwork, success and defeat, but more than that, they are a fun way for your family to relax and make memories.
6. Share “highs and lows.”
When parents ask kids how their day went, answers can vary from a lengthy saga of middle school drama to a monosyllabic “good.”
Instead of using this canned question, try asking, “What was the high point of your day, and what was the low point of your day?” This technique is a quick way to get a well-rounded understanding of what your child is experiencing, and it provides a space for deeper conversations about important issues.
7. Read a book as a family.
Just because your children are old enough to read on their own doesn’t mean you have to stop reading books together.
Choose a classic book the entire family will enjoy, and read one or two chapters aloud every night. Ideas include The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Little Pilgrim’s Progress and The Prince Warriors.
This activity doesn’t have to be overly organized or contrived; it’s a simple part of your evening routine that will undoubtedly build endearing memories for years to come.
Regardless of how you spend time with family, the important point is that you do it. As you intentionally interact together through everyday activities, you will develop a strong connection ripe for spiritual growth, conversation, and community.
Rachel is a freelance writer based in Franklin, Tenn.