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Practical Discipleship: Four Questions That Transform Dinner Into Discipleship

practical discipleship

Practical Discipleship: Four Questions That Transform Dinner Into Discipleship

“When you sit at home…” Dt. 4:7

This verse is found in the oft-quoted passage regarding discipleship in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 where Moses addresses the congregation of Israel and explains how they are to pass their faith on to the next generation. He mentions four specific moments to talk about faith: When we sit at home, when we walk along the road, when we lie down, and when we rise.

I love these four moments because they are universal—every single person ever had done these things. They’ve sat at a place they call home, they’ve left and gone out on the road, they’ve slept and they’ve woken up. These simple, everyday moments are when God shows up, if we are looking for Him.

Over the next few weeks, I’d like to look at these four moments and find some creative ways to use the time we’ve been given. Today, we’re going to look at the moments where we sit at home and how we can redeem that time to share our faith with our kids.

“Highs and Lows!!”

If you’ve ever eaten dinner with the Embree family, no doubt that right after we prayed,
one of us said this phrase. It has become part of our dinnertime DNA and something that has led to incredible faith conversations over spaghetti and salad. Some of our most defining moments as a family in terms of discipleship and growth, especially as a young family, took place because of these four questions.

I can’t take credit for them. That goes to Dr. Kara Powell of Fuller Youth Institute. I had the opportunity a few years ago to attend a seminar led by her about Sticky Faith and how to help our kids develop a faith that sticks beyond high school. She shared this dinner time routine at that conference and I immediately thought, “This is easy! This is something we can do!” and so…we did.

Here are four simple but ever so critical questions we ask each other nearly every day.

1. What was your HIGH today?

Simply put, you are just asking what went well that day. Why? Well, I’m sure you’ve all experienced the oh-so-enlightening after-school conversation that goes something like this:

Parent – So, how was school today? Child – Fine.  

Parent – Well, what’d you do? Child – Nothing.  

Parent – You had to do something. What did you learn? Child – I dunno.  

Parent – Oh come on, give me something! Child – *blank stare* 

Asking a question like “What was your high?” begs the answer in story form. Sure, every now and then, we get a shrug, but most of the time, we get to hear about something that happened that day that otherwise we would not have been privy too. Plus the whole family gets to celebrate the moment together.

2. What was your LOW today?

It is important to recognize that not everything that happens in a day is fun and happy. Sometimes things happen that make us angry or sad. Having a safe place to mention low times and process with family can lead to some of the most meaningful moments in your family’s life. We’ve cried together, talked through some difficult situation, prayed for people who hurt us or were hurting, and addressed some of the harder things kids face in life. We don’t want our kids to live a “facebook” existence where only the good moments get highlighted; rather, we want to teach them that God and home are safe places even in the hardest times.

3. What MISTAKE did you make today?

We all cringe a little bit at this one. It means we have to step back and acknowledge that we may have messed up. It takes humility to admit that, not only to ourselves, but also to our family. And no one is exempt; even Mom and Dad have to answer the question.

Do you know what message this sends our kids? That we mess up, but God’s love is available anyway. Forgiveness and grace are always available. Sometimes, we can genuinely say, “I had a good day and I can’t think of any mistakes,” but those times are outweighed by the moments we recognize that we trip up and fall into the grace of God. We want our kids to know that no matter how big the “mistake,” God’s grace, love and forgiveness are always available, and so is ours.

4. Where did you see JESUS today?

This is by far my favorite question. It’s different from the High of the day. It’s where we have experienced God in our everyday life. I love the answers my kids give to this question, things like, “I saw Jesus when my friend gave me a hug,” and, “I saw Jesus when my teacher forgave some kids who had three strikes and let them have ice cream anyway.” Seeing the attributes of God in the world around them keeps them looking for Jesus everywhere they go. Once, one of my girls wrote a note to a friend in which she said, “When you [did that thing] I saw Jesus in you.” That’s exactly the kind of note we need to be giving one another!

Four simple questions. Four amazing life lessons.

Four easy ways to connect. Four intentional moments for discipleship.

And while the dinner table works for us, maybe it would work better for you on car rides? Or before bedtime? Or maybe even over text if your kids are older?

The idea isn’t to create another “thing” we feel pressured to do.  Rather, it is to layer some intentionality over what we are already doing to create the opportunity to model faith, experience grace and increase love together.

Remember, discipleship at home is never about doing more things. Rather, think of it as an opportunity to invite Jesus into everything we are already doing. Many of use eat dinner at home and most of us strive to do that together, as a family. Inviting Jesus into that everyday practice takes it from ordinary to sacred, from dinner to discipleship, from temporal to eternal, and that is discipleship at home.

For more ideas on how to use the dinner table as discipleship, check out these posts:

This article originally appeared here.