Dinner time has been stolen from America's families, it's time to re-capture the once great tradition.

I believe one of the best ways to counter act today's cultural decay is recapturing the family 'dinner time' discussions. For this reason alone, I'm stimulating a family tradition by starting a 'Hogue Blog' feature entitled "Dinner Dialogue".

Let's be honest, today's family is busy. The traditional dinner hour has been eroded by the pace of life and culture's demands. What was once a valuable time of eating and 'catching up', is now a talent of devouring your food so to make the next appointment.

I want to put some 'meat' back into our family dinners. It starts by getting the family talking again, discussing things that everyone can relate to and have an opinion on. Studies show that families who discuss issues together (communicate), grow together emotionally, spiritually and educationally. Time to put the talking back into dinner time.

Jesus was a big fan of the "Dinner Dialogue".

Jesus used 'meal times' for teaching, parables and challenging discussions. For this reason, I believe the replacing of 'meal time' discussions, or as we'll call them "Dinner Dialogues", are purposed by Creator God. Purpose for the creation of maturity, intellect and ability to apply what we believe as a family to today's post-modern culture.

I'd like to start my series with a few rules:

1. Read aloud the 'real life' articles I will personally provided for each "Dinner Dialogue". The cultural news items alone can create stimulating discussion, let them. If your kids are confused, do you best to explain the situations, and try to apply the stories to each member of the family at the table. Use my provided "Appetizer Questions" to kick-start talking about each story.

2. Encourage all of your children, as well as the adults at the table, to participate in the discussion. No matter the level of contribution, everyone's thoughts, opinions and creative challenges are welcome. This will help to create your kids' communication abilities inside of the marketplace. Go ahead and include your kid's school and neighborhood friends, from my experience your kids will be embarrassed until one of their friends offer an opinion that slightly differs from one of their own.  

3.  Make it a point to focus on the 'moral issues and life dilemmas' of each story provided. It's not just the news content, but the 'impact' that each story has upon each person it reflects. Try to stay away from gossip, judgmental attitudes or being overly critical. Use the provided stories to launch discussions, not a courtroom verdicts.

4. Gently bring God's words into the dialogue. Try not to make it a Bible study (because it's not!), but welcome Bible references by simple retention and easy paraphrasing methods. Let God's authority be the rule, and allow for the discussion to simply revolve around His premises.

5. Have fun as a family again, and encourage everyone that there is no 'right or wrong' answers. A person's opinion or feeling is welcome, it is not wrong or judged. Let each child, visitor or adult explain themselves fully, and give then 'grace' no matter what they may say. Don't ever let it turn into an argument or debate! This is a time to show honor of opinions, and to apply grace in errors.

6. Avoid trying to manipulate anyone's opinions. State your position, defend it, share God's perspective and let the Holy Spirit take over the work of love filled conviction and acceptance. Get ready, as a parent you might learn something about your own false perspectives, and your child's opinion will be the vessel that opens your heart to a new opinion.

7. No soap boxes, preaching or sermons Dad! Relax, it is by grace that God uses His love to reach into the hearts of mankind. "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person" (Colossians 4:6)

8. Try to summaries everyone's opinions at the end, and come to a moral conclusion as to the family's 'best position' on the stories dilemmas. If someone has a radical differential of opinion, state their opinion summary separate - there is no exclusion, just verbal communication on moral opinion.

9. After a few weeks, tell your kids that they should find stories on their own. They can use events from school as conversational pieces. Give them a day of the week that they are to be responsible for the "Dinner Dialogue".

10. I will do my best to provide a couple "Dinner Dialogues" each week. You can check back for future updates and archived editions. As you use them, email me the results. I will try to publish your experiences in future postings, so to encouraged others with your insights and success stories.

Here's hoping this catches on, and we can see more family time "talking" about moral issues within today's culture, so be a light of grace to impact the moral decay with the life and love of Jesus. Not to mention, the value it will create inside of your family's dinner time each night. I'll be posting the first installment with my next blog edition at my home web site and here at Crosswalk.

Comments: talkback@erichogue.com

Web Site: http://www.erichogue.com/

Eric Hogue is a 25-plus year radio professional. A 2004 recipient of the Andy Anderson Award for excellence in broadcasting. Hogue has a background in sports play-by-play for both radio and television. He was raised a fundamental legalist, became a contemporary cultural pastor and now resides in "graceland" as a saved Ragamuffin. Hogue is also a veteran husband, a learning father of two teenagers daughters. During his years as a general market 'News/Talk Radio Host', he was credited with starting the 2003 re-call of California Governor Gray Davis. Now, "The Eric Hogue Show" can be heard all over Northern California on 710am KFIA in Sacramento, and 1100am KFAX in San Francisco and San Jose.