Why is a family meeting important?
Who needs another meeting, right? If you’re in an organization or culture where people meet just to meet, I understand. Meetings can waste time.
But there are well-run meetings that make a difference. Goals are clear. Strategy is set. Everyone leaves the meeting knowing what they are doing on the team. #MeetingWorthIt!
So why should you, as a parent, consider leading a weekly family meeting? And, how should you get started?
The Why: Kids (and parents) need clarity. Without it, life gets blurry and things – important things – get missed. Speaking from experience here.
Clarity is needed because we cannot do it all. We need clear direction to make sure we’re choosing our yeses wisely.
The Problem: Discipling kids does not come naturally
We don’t typically coach our children in evangelism strategies. In other words, it’s not common to add “serving others” to our kids’ schedules to help them journey out of selfishness. It’s hard to remember to set up our child’s “give, save, spend” account when the busyness of his/her part-time job affects the family calendar.
The Solution: Intentional Parenting
Having daily conversations “when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up” (Deut. 6:7 NLT) is often where the greatest spiritual truths and insights are shared.
Passing down genuine faith happens while you are doing life together in an authentic relationship with one another (1 Thess. 2:8).
But what happens when you hit that parenting season when “doing life together” is not so “together” anymore?
Kids go to bed later than parents or they start driving themselves to work/school before the sun is up. Our Deuteronomy 6:7 instruction of teaching “on the road,” “going to bed,” and “getting up” is not as frequent anymore.
This is why a weekly family meeting becomes more important. With little pre-planning, you can lead a family meeting that can create positive change.
Four Easy Steps to Lead a Weekly Family Meeting
For the past few years, our family meeting is held on Sundays (typically Sunday afternoon after church and lunch) and this family meeting agenda only takes 15 to 45 minutes using the following approach:
1. Pray up
You may have heard the expression, “you can do a lot after you pray, but you can do nothing until you pray.” This saying is usually applied to ministry, but a family meeting is ministry. Starting with prayer is key.
For our family, each member of the family is given a slip of scrap paper. They write their name at the top followed by something they are thankful for and what prayer requests they have for themselves or others. The slip of paper gets posted to a corkboard and (on good weeks) the prayer requests get referred to throughout the week.
Saving and tracking the slips of paper to see prayers answered is faith-building, but you can pray however you choose.
Watch how God answers your family’s prayers.
2. Build up
Creating a grateful attitude and thinking of others does not come easily. We want our words to speak life for others even though everything in our culture shouts “me first.”
Our approach is for each member of the family to share something good about one other family member from that week.
It usually goes something like, “I’d like to build up (names sibling) for working hard to save money to go to camp.” Next person shares, “I’d like to build up (names sibling) for bringing me home a milkshake from work.”
At family meetings each person gets “built up,” because outside our homes the world would rather tear us down.
3. Sync up
Calendars. Invitations. Work schedules. Ministry commitments. School due dates. This is the time in our family meeting when every calendar and commitment gets pulled out as we talk through each day of the week. (Try syncing everyone’s calendars on a shared platform, like Google Calendar, to make this easier and accessible.)
When there are too many commitments, we make decisions on what needs to go. Most of the time these are decisions made as a family.
Appointments get rescheduled or dinner gets planned earlier/later on a certain day to accommodate someone’s commitment. (Family dinner is protected as much as possible, where highs and lows are shared for the day.)
This is also the time for questions and announcements like, “Blueberries are in season. Who wants to go to a U-pick farm with me?” Or, “the freezer handle is broken, so open it by pulling the side of the door.”
Life gets synced.
3. Train up
This is the only part of the meeting that needs some pre-planning and gets changed frequently.
Scripture memory is written (in cursive, so they learn how to read cursive) on the board in our kitchen and gets changed based on the “train up” focus or upcoming holiday.
Other than scripture memory being a consistent part of the meeting, “train up” looks different each month or sometimes each week.
- Take a leadership book and read one chapter a week.
- Watch a video (family devos or TheBibleProject.com) and talk through the lesson.
- Take a gospel tract and go through how to share it.
- Currently, we are working on self-control. So, we’re memorizing scripture and taking other steps to correct some behavior.
When teaching young children use easy to understand activities like using their senses, create a drawing, or hands-on exercises to solidify an idea in scripture. Here is a list of resources that work for family meetings as well as discipling others.
We do not spend a lot of time prepping “train up.” There are times when we simply take the worship folder notes and go through what our pastor taught a few hours before.
No matter how you choose to do you family meeting, be intentional.
Life is busy and taking time weekly to talk through what is going on, share prayer concerns, and invest spiritually in your family can change the chemistry and direction of your home.
To sum it up, we have limited time to launch our kids well into the world. Intentional parenting is critical.
Faith is not passed down in a single conversation or meeting, but in genuine faith lived out each day.