Why Have Family Meals?
A family meal…does that conjure up thoughts of peace and happiness? Maybe it’s more like chaos with spills and not-so-great manners included. It could be a combination of all of that, depending on the moment! Mark gives us some great reminders of the benefits of making family meals a priority.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42
I’m not exactly sure why God chose to include “breaking bread” (a.k.a. eating) in a list of spiritually focused items His followers were devoting themselves to right after Pentecost. I do however know that the word “eat” shows up hundreds of times in scripture including the well-known event in the upper room where Jesus and the disciples gathered for His last meal. Let’s assume that not only is eating a physical need of ours, but that God also provides emotional and social benefits when we eat together.
Human research suggests that there is definite value to sharing meals together… check it out yourself. Below are some practical tips for improving your family fellowship at meals.
- Communication is the core of any healthy relationship.
- Involve everyone. Go around the table expecting even your shy or non-talker to contribute.
- Ask opened ended questions rather than yes/no ones your teen might typically default to.
- Let individuals talk without being interrupted…important training for your toddlers.
- Keep the tone and comments encouraging and positive.
- Show that you care and they are valued with your eye contact and non-verbal feedback.
- Commotion free conversations – Set up some expectations and ground rules for enhancing meal time conversations. Family and people present are the focus – keep interruptions at bay: no texting, TV, phone calls, toys or other distractions. Be sure to schedule and protect meal time – give yourselves 45 minutes to an hour so you have time to share and listen without the pressure of racing off.
- Content is key – Phil 4:8 instructs us this way, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Be intentional and engaging with conversations and questions focused on God and His principles.
- How did you see God’s hand today, or see Jesus in someone, His awesome creation, etc.?
- From the church service, Bible study, or your own time reading, what did you learn? What was a take away or personal application?
- What was your high and low today or this week?
Dad’s, let’s step it up, (we all know that moms have a head start in this department) and take the lead. Have fun, seek out your child’s thoughts, increase and improve your family identity and let’s ask God to literally bless our meal and time together!
Campers: Ask your parents not only some really crazy or gross “would you rather” questions but also ones that revolve around being a doer of the word like… “Would you rather have Jesus’ power to heal someone’s physical or emotional wounds?” Or personal faith questions like: “Who has modeled God the most to you and how?”