Practical Steps for Nurturing a Vibrant Household of Faith

Parenting is a risky business. Like a high wire act without a net, we hang on to Truth, keep our balance, and trust for equilibrium, but, ultimately, our children are free to choose their own paths. We do not determine their spiritual direction or their response to God’s claim on their lives.

Nevertheless, wise parents will seek out best practices to create a home environment where their children will flourish and thrive spiritually. Don Everts has teamed up with the Barna Group to provide a resource for parents who are asking the question:  “What does it take to have a spiritually vibrant household?” The process of studying homes that fit that description yielded three essential markers that characterize The Spiritually Vibrant Home :

1. Messy Prayers

A spiritually vibrant household relates to God. At our house, “messy” was definitely the best description of our prayer times, our family devotions, and our attempts at spiritual training.

Everts employs the metaphor of a fireplace to portray the “messy prayers” life. A neat furnace certainly provides much more reliable heat with less fuss, muss, and bother, but “fireplaces are magical and have a way of drawing everyone together in memorable ways. And such is the case with households that relate to God together.” (85)

2. Loud Tables

Spiritual conversations are an important component of the spiritually vibrant household, and it was good news to me that the Everts household also gathered around a loud table. When our kids were all here at home, we sang hymns at breakfast with a St. Bernard howling a descant, and there was at least one instance when our Advent candles ignited a paper napkin. Even so, we connected at a heart level.

Just as we begin our meals with light fare, provide a steady diet to our families, and offer a rich dessert at the end, our conversations can begin with light topics. We should meet together frequently, and a regular rhythm of connection keeps the conversational flow natural and comfortable. When it’s time for deeper, more vulnerable topics, the foundation of trust has been laid.

3.  Open Doors

Thoughts on hospitality always make me smile, because our home has been blessed with a steady flow of wonderful people, some of whom have been adopted as adjunct family members. Everts makes the point that it’s certainly much easier and safer to keep our household submerged like a submarine, but God calls us to be rescue ships. Families daunted by the idea of an open door should proceed slowly, trusting God for what’s next as they invite others into their circle of love and learning.

Readers should be aware of the difference between causation and correlation in looking at a set of data. Do open doors, messy prayers, and loud tables create a spiritually vibrant home–or are they a by-product? For example, “households that engaged in spiritual conversations did more of everything together when compared with households that had no spiritual conversations. We can’t exactly determine causation, but… spending time together having fun, eating food, and doing chores primes the pump for deeper interactions.”

Young families will find the message of The Spiritually Vibrant Home both helpful and hopeful, for the data reveals that there’s nothing magical or mysterious emerging from Everts’s collaboration with Barna. From my vantage point on the edge of an empty-ing nest, I’m grateful to discover that the Lord was faithful in his leading as we made decisions throughout the years about the kind of home we wanted to have.

He will do the same for you.

Many thanks to InterVarsity Press for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

May your home thrive and flourish!

Another excellent resource on the importance of home in the plan of God is Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home by Jen Pollock Michel. Click here for more about her good work.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase The Spiritually Vibrant Home: The Power of Messy Prayers, Loud Tables, and Open Doors or Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home, simply click on the title or the image, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Photo by Sophie Dale on Unsplash

42 thoughts on “Practical Steps for Nurturing a Vibrant Household of Faith”

  1. Michele, I loved your review of this important new book…especially this quote, “Everts employs the metaphor of a fireplace to portray the “messy prayers” life. A neat furnace certainly provides much more reliable heat with less fuss, muss, and bother, but “fireplaces are magical and have a way of drawing everyone together in memorable ways. And such is the case with households that relate to God together.” Many blessings 💕


  2. Michele, I enjoyed this review. I’ll be thinking on this today >>> “…spending time together having fun, eating food, and doing chores primes the pump for deeper interactions.”


  3. How fascinating! I struggle with wishing that our children were at the same point in their relationships with god that we are…but then I remember that at their age, I wasn’t in the same place that I am now! We gave them a foundation, now we give them our prayers.


    1. I pray that our home has qualities that invites love in action. I truly like this term “spiritually vibrant.” It definitely has me thinking on how we, as a family, need to be sure we are taking steps to keep spiritual health a priority. This seems like a great book!


  4. Hey Michele, this is a great post on what truly matters…rsising kids who ultimately grow up to have a genuine relationship with God. The wisdom put forth here by the author is spot on and practical. The other book you mentioned, Keeping Place, sounds wonderful, too. I’m personally looking forward to getting my hands on that one ASAP. 😊

    Thank you for sharing!
    Welcome Home Ministry


  5. Growing up our home was a place like this. We had loud tables but the scriptures were read at these tables. Our friends loved being in our home.


  6. Yes I like that “spending time together having fun, eating food, and doing chores primes the pump for deeper interactions” and those foundations keep the door of conversation open, even when they have walked out of the door…. Thanks, Anchored Abode #5


  7. This sounds like a great resource. I especially love the paragraph about causation and correlation. I wasted so much time thinking there was a foolproof parental formula, and I had to get it just right or the whole thing would be a failure. I have failed many times, but God’s grace is sufficient. We’ve always tried to keep the lines of communication open for any topic and to apply God’s truth to both the big issues and everyday life.

    Speaking of messy prayers–BBN Radio has been playing Elisabeth Elliot’s old Gateway to Joy radio programs. Though I’ve read her books and received her newsletter for many years, I didn’t hear her program because our local station didn’t carry it. Now they do, plus they play it online at 11:00 a.m. I don’t always catch it because it’s not always convenient to stop and turn it on at 11. But the last few days, I’ve been trying to listen because Elisabeth and her daughter, Valerie, have been talking about Valerie’s growing-up years, her dating of Walt, and early marriage. Today she talked about their first time of trying to have family devotional with a new baby, and it was a disaster, leading Walt to declare it was impossible. Elisabeth was visiting at the time, and Walt had been her boarder for a long while before he even started dating Val, so EE felt comfortable talking to him once he cooled down. She said she reminded him that babies have to be taught to eat, and it’s a messy business. And she said the same is true spiritually, and brought up the fact that the household she came from didn’t always have “ideal” family devotions. I’ve often heard the analogy of spiritual and physical food, but had never heard it put like that–that learning to eat,or teaching a child to eat, is going to be as messy spiritually as it is physically.

    (Forgive me for taking up so much space, but I know you enjoy EE.)


  8. Michele, this was great. With a boy who has one more year before his high school graduation and another almost on his heels, I’m seeing so clearly how short our time is with our boys. We’ve worked to engage often at the supper table. I’ve read devotions with the boys on school mornings since they were small. And we’ve prayed with them at night since before they could speak their first words to God. Even so, they are at a stage where they’re on the cusp of making their own choices about faith and following God. I find myself praying so much more for them and being more intentional about engaging with them.


  9. I’ll have to share this with our son and his wife concerning their family. They are relating to God together, eating dinner together most nights, and blessing others with their gift of hospitality frequently. Some important pieces of the nurturing Christian home are definitely in place. They can be encouraged by this book and the research it reflects! Thank you, Michele!


  10. We had “messy” prayers at our house when the boys were growing up too, Michele. Maybe “scattershot” would be a better description. A little of this, a little of that…all over the place at times. Our table was loud and our doors open. The book sounds like it certainly describes a vibrant faith to me!


  11. I loved this post, especially the messy prayers and also hospitality. I miss the days when I was a kid and my mother would literally always have coffee and cake ready to be served up because we would always have people drop in! It just seemed like someone was always over! I have wanted that for my own home as well (prior to Covid) but we are so far from family and friends that drop ins just don’t happen!


    1. I remember being gobsmacked the first time I raad anything about a “theology of home.” God is a homemaker, and he cares about our place in the world. So comforting in these days when we are spending so much time there.


  12. It sounds like a lovely, relaxed approach to having prayer and spirituality in the home because I think pressure (or perceived pressure) is what often puts people off. I love the idea of a loud table – ours is definitely that way at times!! But it’s a table we make sure to sit around every evening together for dinner, something I want my girls to understand the importance of. #globalblogging


    1. I miss the days of a full and noisy table. But happily, yesterday there were eight of us here for dinner!
      So glad you appreciate the importance of those meal time connections!


  13. I think I believe in open doors, open minds and open hearts. I think a more relaxed attitude leads to stronger faith. Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging


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