What is a spiritually vibrant home? It’s one where spiritual practices, spiritual discussions, and hospitality are shared regularly. We thought now might be the perfect time to think more about this fun (and biblical) form of generosity.
A few years ago, we looked at some research from Barna with Lutheran Hour Ministries about spiritually vibrant homes. We learned that factors like ethnicity, location, and faith history do not produce significant differences in the spiritual vibrancy of homes. Instead, it seems spiritual vibrancy can be built on simple practices any Christian can do.
Before Barna conducted their quantitative survey of practicing Christians, Lutheran Hour interviewed members of several highly active Christian households. Nuclear, multi-generational, single-parent, and roommate contexts were represented. These in-depth, personal conversations not only helped inform the research, but also provided practical tips and insights for building relationships and growing in faith as a household.
Below are some recommendations and principles inspired by the routines in spiritually vibrant homes.
- Gather: Choose a night for a weekly themed gathering, perhaps rotating hosting duties with other households. The people Barna spoke to mentioned supper clubs, game nights, “crockpot nights,” and more.
- Have spiritual conversations: Read the Bible together or talk about spiritual subjects, whether formally – as in a regular, household Bible study – or impromptu, when someone has a question. A feeling of responsibility for sharing faith is more common among those from households where God, the Bible, and prayer are all part of the conversation.
- Read with a child: Get a kid-friendly Bible or devotional book for a child. Let an adult or older sibling read with the child, instead of him reading along. One interviewee described being able to have meaningful, cross-generational conversations about the text, as well as learning from familiar stories through a new lens.
- Listen to each other: Be sure to listen. If necessary, use an object to show who holds the floor during family or household conversations at the dinner table or during other times when listening is important. Whoever is holding the object is invited to share, uninterrupted, about her day, her feelings, her praises for things God has done, etc. This can be especially helpful in households with small children or quiet members. Ensure everyone has a chance to be heard and respected.
- Practice hospitality: Sit down with your housemates to discuss the possibility of making yourselves available not only to those who naturally come into your inner circle through work, school, or family, but to other people who could use your company, or even a roof over their heads. Consider whether your home might make a warm, temporary residence for visiting missionaries, a host home for refugees, or a safe space for foster children.
- Welcome guests: In roommate households, or in homes where a border, nanny, au pair, or other live-in caretaker or other guest is present, housemates might need to make an effort up front to get to know one another’s backgrounds. Be sure to make live-in guests feel a part of the activities in your home.
- Keep your routines: One way to communicate the value of household/family routines and disciplines is to not throw them out when guests come over. By inviting guests or other members of an extended household to also participate in activities like cleaning the kitchen, finishing homework, or saying evening prayers, you communicate that these are not rigid chores done in private but valued rituals meant to be celebrate and shared.
Try sharing some of these practical tips in your home to build relationships and grow in faith. It’s amazing what a little intentionality can do to fortify a Christian home.