- - Saturday, March 23, 2024

I have often wondered, “What are the truly significant parts of our day that shape us and shape our kids’?”

While many Christans might immediately point to the time spent with God each day as of primary importance, there’s another hour that often gets overlooked, yet holds profound significance in the fabric of family life — and that’s mealtime.

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In a world where schedules are jam-packed with extracurricular activities and commitments, finding the time to gather around the dinner table can feel like a Herculean task. Yet, amidst the chaos, this simple act holds immeasurable value.

Why is something as seemingly so simple as sharing a meal together ranked as the second most important hour of your day? The answer lies in the transformative power of creating a consistent, safe place and time to just be together.

Research has shown that children who regularly dine with their families experience a myriad of benefits that extend far beyond the dinner table. From improved academic performance to reduced likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors such as substance abuse, the act of sharing a meal fosters a sense of connection and belonging that is unparalleled.

Organizations like The Family Dinner Project have highlighted the benefits of consistent family meals, ranging from higher self-esteem and resilience to lower rates of obesity and depression. Furthermore, mealtime serves as an invaluable opportunity for parents to engage in meaningful conversations with their children, fostering open communication and nurturing their spiritual growth. One Harvard study showed that 80% of teenagers claim family dinner is the time they are most likely to talk with their parents.

A Bible2School Podcast, dedicated to sharing relevant, fun, age appropriate, and hope-filled ways to share God’s Word in everyday life with children in their circle of influence. They need to hear God’s Word — and we will make sure You CAN Tell The Children:

There is power in the dinner table conversation in our kids’ spiritual development as well. Proverbs 4:10-11 says, “Listen, my son. Accept my words, and you will live many years. I am teaching you the way of wisdom; I am guiding you on straight paths.”

We, as parents, are reminded of the importance of imparting wisdom to the next generation, and what better setting to do so than over a shared meal? As parents, we have the privilege and responsibility to create a safe space for our children to wrestle with faith issues and ask the big questions of life. We want to disciple our kids but we don’t know how. Honestly, discipleship starts with a conversation at the dinner table and creating space for them to share their life and ask questions.

In Deuteronomy 6, God commands us to teach His words to our children diligently, whether we sit in our houses or walk along the road. The dinner table becomes a sacred space where these conversations can flourish, where faith is nurtured, and where hearts are opened to the transformative power of God’s love.

So, how can we ensure that this important hour of the day is not overlooked in the hustle and bustle of life?

It begins with intentionality. Schedule mealtime with your family and prioritize it on your calendar. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Whether you’re dining on gourmet cuisine or ordering pizza, what matters most is the connection shared around the table.

Implementing simple rules, such as a technology-free zone. When my son was a teenager, he had a rule when he and his friends went to dinner after a sports event: everyone had to put their cellphones in the center of the table and the first person who reached for theirs during dinner had to pay everyone’s bill. Tough example, but we implemented something similar at our mealtime and it was very effective.

Incorporating elements of spiritual nourishment into mealtime. Reading a verse or sharing a brief devotional, asking for prayer requests, and discussing God’s presence in daily life and how He has answered prayer requests that day are powerful ways to infuse faith into mealtime.

Moreover, don’t minimize the importance of asking good questions to spark conversation like: “What was the high of your day? What was the low of your day? What do you wish you could do over?” Don’t forget to create an atmosphere of joy and laughter. Theme nights like Taco Tuesday or Spaghetti Saturday, silly jokes, and fun family traditions all contribute to making mealtime a cherished and anticipated part of the day.

The value of mealtime with our families cannot be underestimated. In a world that often pulls us in a thousand different directions, the simple act of sharing a meal together holds the power to strengthen bonds, nurture faith, and create lasting memories. So let’s make the most of this sacred hour and savor the moments shared around the dinner table with our kids — laughing, sharing, listening, and pointing our kids to God.

Kori Pennypacker is the CEO of Bible2School, where she oversees the mission and speaks to businesses, churches, and community leaders on the topic of the importance of spiritual training for children in our communities nationwide. She has over 20 years of experience in children’s ministry and leadership.

Bible2School equips communities across the nation to provide free elective Bible classes to elementary school children DURING their public school day. Their vision is that every public school in the nation would have a dynamic Bible program taught during their school day as allowed by national released time court rulings.

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