I hope you’ve been enjoying the posts from The Gathering in Costa Mesa so far. We’ve heard from some amazing ministry friends and have gotten some terrific and challenging advice during the breakout sessions. Check out some of the previous posts:
- God Restores by Craig Jutila
- God Gives us Sight Introduction
- God Gives us Sight by Michelle Anthony
- Breakout Session with Megan Fate Marshman (coming soon!)
- Breakout Session with Doug Fields (coming soon!)
- Q&A Session with Michelle Anthony, Doug Fields, and Jim Burns
- God is with us by Megan Fate Marshman
Yesterday, at lunch, I got a chance to chat with Mark Holmen about his book, Faith Begins at Home. I found this book to be a very helpful resource in my own church. It’s written in an approachable way, with terrific stories and relatable moments. It’s inspiring, convicting and still super practical. Each chapter presents some stats and reasons to engage in faith at home and then ends with some clear practical options for families to implement. If you haven’t snagged a copy, I would recommend it. He’s also got a ton of other books on Amazon to check out and a few new ones coming soon!
I had a few questions for Mark about the book and he was kind of enough to provide a few answers. Here’s the highlights of our chat:
Lindsey: You recommend parents spend one-on-one time with their kids to cultivate an open relationship. What happens when a kid is already in her teens and the relationship has already gotten rocky? Your teenage daughter doesn’t WANT to spend any time with you and even if you could coerce her, you have no idea what to talk about. What then?
Mark: You’ve got to start with where the child is at. Think about the things she’s already interested in. Does she like running? Encourage her to join the track team and then go to those track meets. Don’t try to push them into activities that you enjoy. Really put your child’s interests first here. And as far as spiritual matters go, you’ve got to meet them where they are at. There’s a story in the book about a man named Rob who noticed his son, Nick was starting to listen to dark inappropriate much and dress in a way that was alarming to Rob. One day, on their way to school, Rob asked Nick to play him a couple of his favorite songs. Of course, Rob didn’t like the music, but he didn’t say anything. He just listened. After he dropped Nick off at school, he went to the Christian book store and asked to see four of the best Christian rock band CD’s they had. He listened to each one, trying to find the ones that sounded most similar to Nick’s favorite songs. He purchased two and played them for Nick. The two ended up heading back to that store and buying 8 more similar CD’s (you can find the full story starting on page 63).
You’ve got to let God change your child. That’s not up to you. Give them gentle direction. Provide them with quality resources and then pray that the Holy Spirit will work in their life.
Lindsey: You recommend involving the older generation in the spiritual lives of your children — grandparents or some other godly role model. How exactly do you begin that process? How do you cultivate a meaningful relationship between your children and their grandparents?
Mark: It’s important to be very specific. For example, when our daughter got her first cell phone, I told her grandparents that she loved talking on it and encouraged them to call her. And they did. When texting became the new thing, we let them know that she didn’t like talking as much but would love to text with them. And so on. You know your children best. You know what kind of things they like to do and what activities they would be receptive to. Pass on this knowledge to the grandparents and encourage them to take action. Give them permission to be an influence.
Lindsey: And what about for grandparents who want to be in that role, but don’t exactly feel welcome? They tried to raise their kids to love God, but it didn’t exactly work out and now they don’t want to waste the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of their grandchildren. What advice would you give them?
Mark: That’s what my book, Faith Begins @ Home Grandparents is all about. I interviewed grandparents all across the countries and asked them what was stopping them from being this kind of influence. We identified the most common roadblocks for grandparents and then we found grandparent were overcoming those roadblocks and made recommendations based on their experiences. It’s a very practical and helpful resource.
Beyond that, it’s tuning into the child’s interests again. Does your granddaughter love horses? Find a Bible camp on a ranch and pay for her to go. Ask your grandchild if they have a prayer request and then really dedicate it to prayer and follow up with it. Things like that.
Lindsey: Lastly, you talked about getting the church back on the radar as a resource for parents and families (p. 120). What happens when you’re trying to be a resource and parents are disengaging anyway? Maybe you’ve set up a class or passed out books, but there’s no response. What then?
Mark: To me, that seems like a church problem, not a parent problem. I have never seen a generation so ready to receive help when it comes to parenting. They want to do things right and they are going to put in the research to find the best help. If parents have shown up at your church, that’s because they’ve checked around and they feel like your ministry is going to be the best for their child. If now suddenly, they are disengaging? That’s because you’re not actually being helpful. It’s time to re-evaluate. Either the method, the resource, the format — something. Ask parents what they are looking for and then fill that need. Parents are trying to do a good job and the church needs to be a quality resource that can help them in that journey.
Thanks so much, Mark, for your time and for the amazing resources you’re providing for families!
About Mark Holmen
Pastor Mark Holmen, author of Church + Home and Director of Faith@Home Ministries will equip you with the important task of helping parents in your congregation become leaders and disciples in their own homes.