What Do We Mean by Households?
We like to use the word "household" because, for many, the word "family" has become too stiff. It brings to mind a picture of parents with children and youth, usually living in the same home. But households include a wide combination of people. Don Everts, the author of Spiritual Vibrant Home, defines it this way, "A 'household' is a group of people living their life together."
It is a married couple with children; it is also a married couple with no kids or an empty nest. It is a home full of roommates, a single-parent home, and an extended family with three (or more) generations under one roof. It is a blended family with stepparents, stepchildren, and stepsiblings. It is even made up of a couple with children who, for whatever reason, just never got married or a divorced couple with children who do everything else as one family except sleep in the same house. A household may include foster parents and children. It could include an unbelieving spouse or a doubting child and it may be grandparents serving their grandchildren as guardians and caretakers. A household may even include a traditional family (mom, dad, children) and a friend of a child, or a sibling of a parent living in the same house.
We use the word "household" because it includes every possible combination of people living their life together and it is the primary place where God forms faith in his people outside of the worship service.
Parents, Guardians, and Heads of Households
By his design, God has given parents the greatest influence on the lives of their children, their faith lives included. Whether active in their faith or not, parents are influencing the faith lives of their children positively and negatively.
Rather than replacing the God-given vocation of parents, the church is called to partner with parents to help them play a proactive and positive role in the work God is doing in the lives of their children. This includes those guardians (grandparents, foster parents, etc.) who have been tasked with caring for children in their lives.
What Does This Look Like For Us Today?
Perhaps you are familiar with these words from Joshua 24:15. They appear in many homes today as art hanging on the wall. Joshua spoke them toward the end of his time as the leader of the nation of Israel, "But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
Before that, in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, as Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land, God instructed parents and guardians on what role they were to play in the faith lives of their children and those in their care.
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
God gave a similar instruction to the previous generation of Israelite parents in Exodus 12:26-27 as they prepared to celebrate the first Passover meal before exiting Egypt for the Promised Land.
"And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord's Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’"
What does all this mean and look like for us today? Parents and guardians are still called to the same task of teaching the faith to their children and households as God's people were in the beginning. They and their house serve the Lord by not only taking care of physical needs but also seeing to the spiritual needs of the household.
This is done during the regular mundane rhythm of life together. There are three times already built into the everyday life of a household during which parents and guardians can build relationships with those in their household and engage in spiritual conversations with them: mealtime, travel time, and bedtime. You could also include vacation time and sick days since they happen regularly in the life of a household.
We aim to equip and resource parents and guardians to use these times as God instructions them in his word and prepare them to teach the faith at home. Click the button below to head over to our parent resource page for more.