As I write this, it’s a beautiful fall Monday morning here in the PNW…
Actually, it’s a beautiful, chilly fall Monday morning.
It’s one of those mornings where you wake up and everything’s covered with a layer of frost…like God saran wrapped His creation overnight with a breath of cold air.
The chilliness of the morning reminds me how much I value warmth. I like to be warm (not hot!). I like to be warm so much that when I’m cold, I’ll figure out a way to get warm again.
Warmth is inviting.
It’s something that embraces me and changes the state I’m in.
Warmth is attractive.
It accepts me when I’m cold, but it doesn’t leave me chilly.
The value of warmth though is not limited to things like body temperature. Turns out that relational warmth is important too…especially in our homes and churches.
In fact, when it comes to our kids’ faith development, family and church warmth are both key factors to their spiritual growth.
So, what does this kind of warmth look like?
A recent study describes a warm family as one where a child perceives a close relationship with one or usually both parents.*
And one of the major conclusions of this study was that kids are more likely to embrace the faith of their parents in a warm family than in a cold one.
Kids who feel relationally close to their parents tend to follow after their parents in lots of ways (including faith). On the other hand, kids who feel relationally distant, tend to walk away.
In other words, the culture that we create at home has a huge impact on the faith that is being created in our kids.
The same is true of course with our churches. Warm churches create a culture where faith grows. Whereas, cold churches create a culture where religion grows (and faith tends to die).
So, how do we create a culture of warmth in our homes and churches?
Go to God first.
God is a relational God. And, He has invited you into a warm relationship with Him. So, it only makes sense to start by praying, and asking Him for wisdom and grace as you seek to create a culture of warmth.
Go to your kids second and ask them this question…
“If you could change anything about our relationship, what would it be?” In other words, go ask your kids what would warm up your relationship with them and hear what they have to say.**
(In a church context, you might talk with your leaders about the value of building a culture of warmth in your church and then ask this question: how can we become a warm church where relationally hungry people can gather and grow and “be warm” together, and then go out and “be warm” in their communities?)
Then, do something to create warmth…
Ideas for families:
- create a family group chat and use it to share things like a verse of the day or things you see or do during the day.
- plan a family vacation or activity together.
- pray together as everyone leaves in the morning for school/work.
- put your phones away at mealtimes or when doing something all together (like playing games or watching TV).
Ideas for churches & youth groups:
- create space in your services for people to share a story from their week that fits with whatever the message is that day.
- plan fun activities at least once a quarter.
- pray together (this is one way that you can “rejoice with those who rejoice…and mourn with those who mourn” together)
- eat together.
Finally, don’t be discouraged if you find that your home or church is chillier than it should be. Creating a culture of warmth in those places may not happen overnight, but its impact in shaping people’s faith has the potential to change the state of our culture both now and in the future.
*From the 2013 study, Families and Faith: How Religion is Passed Down across Generations.
**For more ideas and insights on creating a culture of warmth in your family, check out the book Growing With: Every Parent’s Guide to Helping Teenagers and Young Adults Thrive in their Faith, Family, and Future by Kara Powell and Steven Argue (especially chapter 3).