How to Build Bridges between Church and Home
- 2011 7 Feb
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Mark Holmen's recent book, Church + Home: The Proven Formula for Building Lifelong Faith, (Regal Books, 2010).
Young adults are leaving Christianity in droves, coming to the tragic conclusion that Christians are hypocritical because they grew up seeing their parents go to church, yet never live faithfully at home. Too often, parents think simply making sure that their kids attend church is enough to give them lasting faith, when actually, they must consistently live faithfully at home to inspire and help their kids develop lasting faith. And it's not just kids who are struggling. When adults fail to carry their faith over from church to home, they too can fall away from Christ.
The solution to this problem is building bridges of faith between church and home, empowering the people in your church to live in loving relationships with Christ all the time. Here's how:
Poll the people in your church. Conduct a survey to give you information about how well the people in your congregation are currently living out their faith at home. Ask them about whether they pray, worship, or read the Bible at home; whether they regularly discuss their faith with their family members at home; and whether they participate in some form of Christian service at home.
Set a good example. As a church leader, you need to model the importance of living out faith at home rather than just at church. So make your relationships with your spouse, kids, and any other family members at home high priorities. Regularly invest in those relationships by devoting lots of time and energy to them and being the best family member you can be, even when you need to spend less time at church to do so.
Consider how each of your church's ministries can equip people to live more faithfully at home. Pray and think about how: your men's ministry can help men be godly singles, husbands, dads, and grandpas at home; your women's ministry can help women be godly singles, wives, moms, and grandmas at home; your singles' ministry can help single people live faithfully at home or college; your seniors' ministry can help older people actively encourage younger people - like grandchildren - grow closer to Christ; your nursery ministry can help parents influence their youngsters in ways that help their young kids form healthy foundations of faith; your children's ministry can help parents engage their kids in faith-building activities at home; your youth ministry can help teens live out their faith at home and at school; and your worship service can help people apply each week's message to the way they live at home.
Help parents help their kids at home. Discourage parents from simply dropping off their children at church, and encourage them to actively participate at church with their kids. Require parents to attend Sunday School with their kids at least once a year, and give them materials to use at home to reinforce each week's Sunday School lesson. When parents ask you to dedicate or baptize their children, talk with them about the importance of mentoring their kids in the faith, and give them the ongoing support and resources they need to do so. Host "Take it Home" events at your church for parents and children or teens to participate in together, focusing each time on a different topic that will help them live out their faith at home, such as: how to have family devotions, how to do family service projects, how to set appropriate media boundaries, and how to develop and use each family members' spiritual gifts.
Help adults of all ages keep growing spiritually at home. Constantly encourage all of the adults in your congregation to apply their faith at home. During sermons, communicate specific ways that people can transfer the insights you're preaching about to their lives at home. Give them homework to do after every weekly sermon message, looking up additional Bible verses about each sermon's topic and discussing and applying it with the people they live with at home. Hold "Take it Home" events for adults as well as for kids and their parents, focusing on a different faith topic each time. Challenge the adults in your church's small groups to support, encourage, and hold each other accountable to grow spiritually at home.
Make sure that your church's budget supports a focus on taking faith home. Study your church's budget. Is most of the money currently being spent on programs and resources that are primarily used at church? If so, work to allocate more funds to helping the people in your church learn how to live faithfully at home.
Maintain the momentum necessary for a long-term commitment. Since the process of teaching people to transfer their faith from church to home is an ongoing one, be sure to make a long-term commitment as a congregation to helping people live out their faith at home. Maintain momentum by evaluating your staff and volunteer leaders on how well their ministry work is equipping people to live faithfully at home, expressing your appreciation to your staff and volunteers when they're doing a good job, and constantly add and strengthen your church's "Take it Home" events for the people in your congregation.
Adapted from Church + Home: The Proven Formula for Building Lifelong Faith, copyright 2010 by Mark Holmen. Published by Regal Books, a division of Gospel Light, Ventura, Ca., www.regalbooks.com.
Mark Holmen is a national and international consultant and speaker for the Faith At Home movement, which equips congregations to make the home the primary place where faith is nurtured. Mark served as senior pastor of Ventura Missionary Church until 2009, when he stepped down in order to pursue full-time Faith At Home ministry. Mark and his wife, Maria, have been married for more than 18 years and have a daughter, Malyn.
Whitney Hopler is a full-time freelance writer and editor. You can visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.
Publication date: February 7, 2011