The research showed us that if an entire core household is together—so the people who live and sleep under the same roof—if they're all together, the odds are they're eating. And you're doing like a parallel activity, so it's not like intense, like let's just sit with chairs facing each other and like all we're doing is looking at each other's eyes and talking. You're eating food, you're passing things, the waiter's interrupting, you're doing different stuff. There's something about a meal that facilitates conversations.
It's a catalyst for it. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson.
And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at familylifetoday.com or on our Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. When it comes to passing our faith on to our sons and our boys raising them, what's your biggest regret?
Oh, man. Well, we wrote our five mistakes in our book, but my biggest regret, I think, the first thing that comes to me is when Cody, our youngest, said in college, I wish we would have spent more time in the Bible. I don't know the Bible like I should. And he wasn't looking at you. He was looking at me. I mean, that's definitely one of my biggest regrets. You know, you blink and they're gone, and you think of all those days and weeks that you could have grabbed the moment and jumped into the Word. But as a pastor, his pastor, weren't you thinking, well, if you would have just listened to church, did you have that thought? Yeah, but that's a regret. If I could do it over again, I would do a better job of that.
At home. What about you? I wish I would have not been so angry and mean when they were little. And I think I apologized so much to them and repented so much. But I did it too much. Like, Mom, didn't God hear you the first time when you asked for forgiveness?
Why do you keep asking? And so I lived in the shame of yelling or making a mistake as a parent. You were mostly mad at me. Oh, you mean that was my anger. Yeah, you took it out of the kids, but you were disappointed in me.
That's a whole other topic. I mean, we as parents had a dream. You know, our sons are grown and married and we have grandkids now. But our dream was that they would be warriors for the kingdom. That was part of our mission statement. We wrote a letter even, I remember, to our first son saying, this is who we are and this is what we long for you. That you will walk with God all the days of your life and call upon his name and tell others about him. Yeah, and I think many Christian parents have the same vision. And hope.
And they're not sure how to get there. So we've got Don Evertz back in the studio with us today. Don, welcome back to Family Life.
Great to be back with you. And I know you're a pastor, a dad, a researcher. I'm guessing you have the same vision and hopes that we have for your kids. Three sons? Two boys and one girl. Yeah, and they're how old? That's right.
Two in college, one in high school. All right, so let me ask you this. Yeah.
Do you have any regrets? Plenty. Yeah. They're like highlighted by the research. Really? Well, there's something about, it feels like every research topic or book that I feel called to work on.
Which has been what, 20? Yeah. Yeah. They are small books, but... But they're all based on research.
These latest ones are, but there's something about like steeping in it. With this book, when I wrote the conclusion and it was all over, I just broke down and cried. Did you? I felt like it had done such a work in me to be in the research, to be forced to be in the Bible and what it says about households. God used it so much in my life. I finished that last, sent it off to my publisher and I thought, you had me do all of this for me, didn't you? Like I felt spoiled by God that like he needed to work on me.
So I'll get your attention by making you write a book about it. Yes, so regrets about not just interacting around things of faith even more. You know, and I'm a pastor too, and I have the same thing, like, listen to the sermons.
I mean, they're great, right? Yeah, right. And yet to have done more, I was a campus minister and I didn't know what to do with little kids. There was part of me that was just waiting for them to become college students so I would know what to do with them. I don't know what to do with a five-year-old. So yeah, just wishing that I had leaned into my ignorance earlier and just like, I want to learn, like, what do you do with a five-year-old? I mean, we made it up as we went along and God redeems that, right? I mean, he's great at taking our scribbles and turn them into beautiful pictures, so I'm so thankful for that. But all sorts of conviction in working on this. Now, did you feel, because I felt this as a pastor, and Anne expressed this a couple times to me, her frustration that I was like on at church.
Spiritually vibrant outside the home, come in the home, not that I was a deadbeat, but the vibrancy wasn't as strong in my home. It's because he'd be up on stage and just praying, like, passionate, like, strong. And then I'd say, hey, you want to pray for dinner?
And, you know, I was like, hey, what happened to that guy that was on the stage? We want Pastor Dave. Yes. My kids told me at one point, you have a preacher voice when you preach. You have a different voice.
I do not. I'm like myself. I'm the same me. No, no, you're not.
For me, it was always way harder to just pray alone with my wife than it was to pray with a congregation. Oh, yeah. I read that. Don, you are speaking my language. You said the same thing.
Why is that? It's more intimate. Yep. For probably lots of reasons, you know, and working on this book and thinking about, like, what is it like to be a spiritual coach in the household? Like, to even name that and say, the research tells us it helps to have someone in the household who's initiating things, right?
And who's saying, hey, time out. Let's talk about this. Or, hey, I'm going to call a play or whatever.
You don't have to do it well, but it needs to be someone initiating. And I think that would be my regret would be, I wish I had named that earlier. Like, I'm supposed to be a spiritual coach in my household. I thought it was interesting, too, in terms of spiritual coaches. Who are the influencers?
Yeah. Talk about that a little bit. There's some fun stuff and some sobering stuff in the research. You know, so we talked a lot and we did an oversampling of teenagers also in terms of, like, who's your favorite conversation partner? Because the second of the three kind of vibrancy characteristics of a spiritually vibrant household is engaging in spiritual conversations. Like, if you're talking about your faith or your doubts or whatever, if you're talking about it, your faith grows. And by the way, I'll just mention yesterday we talked about the first one, which was messy prayers. That's right. And it's just Bible reading, praying around.
You can listen to yesterday. Yeah. And then you just mentioned the second one is these vibrant conversations.
Loud tables. Yeah. Talking with each other. And so the research tells us some interesting things about people's preferred conversation partners.
So some good news. You guys are grandparents now? Yeah. So the people who rank the highest in terms of who are teenagers and kids most open to talking about spiritual things with, most regularly and consistently, it's grandparents. Like, if grandparents come into a household, that's whether they physically walk in or whether they're on Zoom or whether it's a phone call, whatever.
Kids are most open and want influence spiritually from grandparents. That is so surprising to me. Yeah.
Amazing. Why? Why is that? I don't know. I mean, the researchers don't get into causality.
They're not like, here's what causes that. Yeah. All they know is, here's what the kids are telling us. Grandparents rank really, really high.
And it could be because, I mean, you know what it's like. As a grandparent, you're not having to do the day in, day out discipline. Yes.
You're not having to manage the household, which is another role. So I think maybe you have fewer hats that you're wearing. That's just me guessing. Right. And so kids are really open to that. We were just with our four grandkids a couple weeks ago, and it was so interesting.
As we get in the car and travel, I'll tell stories or whatever, but the oldest granddaughter is seven, and then her brother is five. And I told this God story, this kind of miraculous God story, every single time we got in the car for the next three days. Oh, that's right.
Yeah. They said, Nani, tell us another God story. It's exactly what you said. Like, I was amazed that they'd want to hear.
And it's good news. I mean, it's the people, not just in the core household, but in the extended household, that also affect the spiritual vibrancy of a household. So it's the people inside and outside of it. And like we have empty nesters in my church who are like, well, I'm not in this game.
I don't have kids at home anymore. And so actually the research tells us, and actually the model of what a household is in the Bible, like it's this extended group of people. And people at my church, when we were handling this research for the first time, the grandparents were so encouraged because they were like, am I consigned to have like a boring, lonely, isolated household and I'm not in the game anymore? It's like, actually you're like a key player, not just within your own, like your literal grandparents, but you know, people move and all that. Families need surrogate grandparents, surrogate aunts and uncles from within the church to love on their kids and all that.
So very inspiring for people like you can be in the game. And, you know, other research tells us that for a young child to have their faith, you know, the sticky faith research, you need five adults for a kid to be influencing them, to be on their team. So anyways, I just, I mean, it's really good news.
Yeah, that's good. And I'm thinking, as you said that, I thought of the blended families where you might feel like a grandparent, like I don't really know them as well, but yeah, you can still influence. You can be even a single, there's a single woman at our church who is a part of our extended household. She was over for holidays and she'd come over to do her laundry and all that. I'll never forget the day we were studying this in a Sunday school class and we were looking at what the Bible has to say about extended households and what households were like.
And Cyprus like looked up and she went, wait a second, wait a second. So I'm a part of your household, Dawn. And I said, you are.
She said, how can I do better at that? Like I have a role in your daughter's spiritual faith because she was good friends with Taya. So even for people who are like, well, I don't have a household.
Yes, you do. I mean, everyone's in those and realizing that and recognizing that it's made me take my role more seriously with my friends' kids. That's cool. Yeah, and all three of our boys when they were growing up had mentors that sort of came into our family. I look back, they had as much influence as I did.
That's right. But talk about moms and dads because if it's grandparents, what about moms and dads? So when we ask people, so this isn't like preferred conversation partner, although moms rate higher there than dads do also, depending on the topic.
If it's talking about money, they want to talk to dad. Interestingly enough, if it's their faith or other things, they tend to want to talk to mom. But one of the questions we asked was who has had a faith impact in your life? And among the teenagers that we asked, 68 percent rated their mom as the number one.
Right, my mom has had a huge faith impact on me. Only 46 percent said their dad. Okay, tell me why. I mean, you tell me why, right?
But what do you think? The researchers don't tell us why. As a dad and as a pastor, I would say probably a few different reasons why dads tend to be less in the game. In some households, they're out of the house working.
So there's less like square footage of time, right? So that could be a contributing factor. I think some of it is, you know, mom's better at it, quote unquote. She prays better, which my son told me at one point.
And then some of it could just be like, I'm just going to be lazy and there can be a kind of laziness in me. I'll just let her do that. It's easier.
I'm pastoring over here. Yeah, in some ways we can get passive because they're good at it. The kids are sort of gravitating toward them. I remember, Dave, you saying you're better at that than I am with the kids. And maybe you had the idea- Especially when they were little. Yeah, that's what I was going to say.
But at the same time- Right, especially when they're little. Yeah, there's another aspect that's like, step up, Dave. Exactly. Step up, come on. Exactly. You know, you can flip this a little bit. And there are times where I stepped up and then I get lazy and I step up again. That's right. And that's part of me thinking there's a dad listening. It's like, you know what? Today's the day.
Yeah. Why don't you step into this a little bit? There are so many dads that I've interacted with because of the book who feel like it has shown a light on something that they either have never looked at or they've had a suspicion.
Like, I'm supposed to be doing something here and I'm golfing instead. But I think what it is with kids, I felt this with my dad, is I wanted my dad to know me and I wanted to know my dad. So, I think if a guy thinks, okay, I'm just going to come in and pray, I would say, you know, your kids want to know you. And they want you to be asking them questions of who they are and what their thoughts are.
So, it's that spiritual component, but it's also that relational component of, know me. I remember our kids saying, dad, know my friends, their names, the girls that would hang out at our house. You remember they said that? That's another regret. Yeah.
I didn't know them well. I think some of it, and also is we parent how we were parented, or at least we default to that. That tends to be a default. So, I think some of it, I'm not like, I'm taking all the blame on myself too, but some of it is like, if your dad never did what you just described with you and you don't have a model, like think that that's a thing that dad should do, it takes reading the Bible or, you know, to go, oh, I'm supposed to be a spiritual coach in my household and to be doing that.
So, the research is sobering, but I think in a healthy way, right? Me too. That it shines a light and says, how did you put it? Like, okay, today's the day. Yeah. Just do a little more. Step up.
Like do a little bit more spiritual coaching than you did last year. Like just start, like lean in, just lean in a little bit. And the research tells us when this is the good news, you don't have to be great at it. Yeah.
That's really good news. So, you guys give dads or give men just a starting conversation that you could say with your kids. What would that look like? You know, so like easier things that you could do with a kid would be to say, hey, and because I like leading out of just my frailty and my weakness. So, to even say, hey, I'm wanting to, I should be praying more for you guys. And so, I'd love each of you by the end of today, I'd love to know what I could be praying for you for. And to not like ask them on the spot because they'll be like, whatever school or, you know, whatever that, you know, we win the game.
I want to, you know, I don't want to strike out tonight. But to like give them time and say, because then you're modeling like a spiritual conversation. I'm talking about my faith and I'm wanting to lean in. So, you're modeling. And then guess what happens then at the end of the day?
What are the big things that you want prayer for in your life right now? All of a sudden you're having a spiritual conversation. You're talking about deep stuff.
And then you can kind of go back to it. You know, with my daughter, we had this code language of I need to get a Coke. And that meant like I want some more on one time with my dad. Hmm.
Oh, that's good. And we wouldn't necessarily go and get a Coke. But it was like, rather than saying, well, you pursue intimacy with me and engage me and, you know, which is kind of feels so big. And it's like, oh, I just got, you know, I pulled into the driveway. But to just say, hey, can we have a Coke sometime this weekend? So I'd say for a dad, like do a little thing like that. Like, man, listen to this family life today.
And so I want to do more. I mean, just show the elephant in the room. Right.
And say, I want to do a better job at this. So one of our friends with all girls, but he's just has this long commute. So he would pray. Yeah. And so he said what I would do after my commute, I'd text all my girls.
How can I be praying for you today? And he said that meant so much. And these girls all talk about that. Oh, yeah.
Interesting. Dad's praying for me. He knows what's going on in my life. Hardly anybody's going to turn down that request. How can I pray for you?
Even a stranger would say, really? You want to pray for me? So you do that with your kids.
That's right. So, you know, we mentioned these three, you know, we already talked about messy prayers. We're getting into a little bit loud tables. We'll talk about open doors in a second. But what's loud tables mean? You're listening to David Ann Wilson with Don Evertz on family life today.
We'll hear his answer in just a minute. But first, we know that the health of your marriage is foundational to the health of your family. We also know that the foundation for a healthy marriage is built on God's word. And that's what a weekend to remember marriage getaway is really all about. It's a ballroom of couples hearing from fun, engaging speakers talking about God's plan for your marriage. You'll laugh. Maybe you'll cry or you'll at least you'll get away from the kids and you'll realize that whatever you're going through, you're not alone. This fall, we have events happening all over the country and right now, when you register for a weekend to remember, you'll save 50 percent.
Just go to familylifetoday.com and find your marriage getaway. All right. Now, back to Don Evertz on what he means by loud tables and why they're so important to your family. The research showed us that if an entire core household is together, so the people who live and sleep under the same roof, if they're all together, the odds are they're eating.
That's what the research tells us. Probably eating or watching TV. Eating or watching TV was number two behind eating. And that's whether it's eating in the household or eating at a restaurant. And one of the things that we found out is when conversations are happening, it's often when they're eating. And so there's something interesting because a meal is like it's a period of time and you know, it's not going to go on forever.
Right. There's like a contract when you're eating a meal. It's not like we're going to be here for three hours or whatever. It's like a period of time and you're doing like a parallel activity. So it's not like intense, like let's just sit with chairs facing each other and like all we're doing is looking at each other's eyes and talking.
You're eating food, you're passing things, the waiter's interrupting, you're doing different stuff. There's something about a meal that facilitates conversations. It's a catalyst for it. That's what the research tells us.
Now look at scripture. How often is table fellowship or things happening around tables? Really key.
And so that's one of the things the research tells us. So that's why loud tables is like you have to eat. And as you all know, with, you know, busy kids schedules, eating together is like a big deal, right, to make that happen. It's hard to make it happen. It's hard to make it happen. But even someone that you're with, you know, some people have to say, you know, put your phone in the basket during a meal to kind of again, create a circle of time. Just draw a circle around a period of time and then talk.
And so that's like an easy call to action because you got to eat anyways. And how do you facilitate it? When we found this out in the research at Lutheran Hour Ministries, we developed a deck of cards. We call it the vibrant conversation deck. So it's a real deck of cards.
You can play games with it. But each card has on it a unique question. It's just a conversation starter. And there's others of these that you can find.
And just keep it on your dining room table during every dinner when we're together, we're going to do one question. Okay. And some of them, they're not all like, how is the cross of Jesus made a difference for you today? They're not.
I mean, there are spiritual ones, but there are other ones, too. Like, you know, what are your biggest dreams for your life right now or whatever? Right. Just get people talking. So food and fun are catalysts for conversations. We've had a lot of great dinners together, and we had to be super intentional when our kids got older because they're all in sports.
They're all doing things. And we've shared this before that there were times in football season that we would have dinner at 9 p.m. It's the only time we were all together. After practice, I was coaching. They'd have big snacks after school, but we would gather at 9 p.m. And we grew up with them asking those questions like, hey, what was your high and low today kind of thing? That's right. Yep. Which it was fun because we were just with one of our sons and he was doing the same thing with his kids. So cool.
Oldest is seven, the youngest is two. But it was fun just to hear their answers. But I was sitting with another one of my friends and she had a large family, lots of kids. And she said, as our kids got older, what we started doing is I would pick one person, one of our kids or my husband or I, and we would ask a question for the night. Like, hey, tonight's your night. And they would just and she said sometimes they would be like, this is dumb. I don't want to do it.
What's your favorite color? You know what I mean? That's right. Yeah. But sometimes they were a little deeper and they went a little deeper. But I just thought that was cool then to give that to your kids to participate in, but also to lead in. Yeah.
It's a small little thing, but it makes a huge difference and it changes the atmosphere of the home. I mean, if you if you're talking about other things, talking about your faith seems more normal. I found too, and I don't know why, but maybe it goes back to Deuteronomy six, talk about these things when you're on your way. But there's something about driving places and having conversations because you're not looking at each other in the face.
You know how long the time is because you know where you're going. There's just something about car conversations to like called a captive audience. Yeah, there you go.
Yeah, they can't leave. Yeah. So those little ways that just in the everyday domestic ins and outs of doing life.
Talking about your faith in those can be in some ways even more powerful than I'm saying this as a pastor, time in church, you know, or in a quote unquote spiritual environment. You know, the domestic place, the household is this like laboratory for discipleship that is messy, that can be loud, but it can be so powerful. I know that, you know, as you talk about table time, loud tables, you've got bedtime. Yeah. You've got drive time.
Yep. You've got meal time. Those are all critical moments for parents, for families to say, I'm going to be intentional here. And I think one of the things we discovered, especially as the kids got a little older, is it's okay in those times the conversation can be about doubts, can be about struggles.
Fears. You know, don't feel like you have to be the perfect parent. You can say to your kids, man, I'm struggling right now with what God's not doing or doing in my life.
You ever struggle with that? Bam, that opens something up when a dad or a mom is that vulnerable. Doesn't it seem to open this child up to say, really, we can talk about that?
Absolutely. In fact, we did a whole other year of research that would have to be on spiritual conversations themselves, just about them. And what we found was the game changer is talking about your faith or your lack of faith, talking about your doubts. Just like talking about those things grows your faith. I remember saying to one of our kids one night, like, I feel so spiritually dry. I haven't been in the Word lately.
Just feeling this dryness. Yeah. Well, encourage me.
Do you have anything that you've been learning or that God's been telling or teaching you? And even that I think is good for them to know. Oh, okay. So they struggle sometimes, too. That's right. I like that vulnerability. And what I love about this conversation is it inspires parents to have a conversation. Yeah.
And that research was not something we couldn't access. It's like, are you kidding me? Messy prayers?
Loud tables? I can do that. Yeah.
Well, if you can do it, how about today? You've been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Don Everts on Family Life Today. Don's book is called The Spiritually Vibrant Home, the Power of Messy Prayers, Loud Tables, and Open Doors. And you can get a copy at familylifetoday.com. And tomorrow, Dave and Ann Wilson will be joined again with Don Everts to chat about how just opening the doors of your home can ignite you and your family's faith. On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry, helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
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