The home is an interesting place. It is where you spend a lot of time in your childhood, it’s where you should learn about love and discipline and primarily, for the Christian, it’s where you should be taught about God. But how can you create a culture in your home that is gospel saturated and that is a good example of the gospel lived out in front of children and visitors?
There are plenty of books out there that deal with parenting techniques, family devotions and disciplines of the Christian home. But there aren’t many (that I know of) that give good, Biblical and practical advice on how to raise kids in a gospel centred culture at home. This is important because outside of the home they are surrounded by a completely different culture which does not include or care about God.
That’s where Ann Benton comes in with her really helpful and insightful book The Fruitful Home. Ann is a grandmother who has raised four children of her own, written a number of books on parenting and marriage and has a wealth of experience which permeates this book. The Fruitful Home will help parents think about how they can create a gospel culture in the home to help children experience what it looks like to live out your Christian faith and what it looks like to love and honour God with your life.
But why is the culture at home so important?
“To fear the Lord – that is, to recognise in your very soul the presence, awesome power and matchless grace of the transcendent, personal, triune God – means that you will love him and want to walk in his ways. And when you live like that, you will create around you a subculture of family life, a subculture which is Christian and distinctly so. This is the soil in which to grow healthy, rounded human beings.”
Ann begins the first part of the book by opening up Psalm 128 and showing how it gives foundations for what it means to have a healthy home. In the first few chapters she discusses these foundations of the Christian home: structure, substance and story.
Each short chapter has very helpful headings that are packed full of practical help for parents. She begins by speaking about how good and important it is for children to see a loving and healthy marriage. Children learn what marriage is primarily from their parents, therefore, they need to be taught directly and indirectly the importance of marriage being between one man and one woman who together are living for the glory of God. Ann then goes on to speak about routines in the family…
“For the Christian family today priorities are shaped by the overarching purpose to glorify God by a concern for his kingdom. This is the big vision which guides and governs everything. The rhythms and routines of our lives will be gateways to that vision.”
This goes beyond just saying grace around the family table, it means that everything in the culture of our home should be about God and teaching the children to know and love Him. This means that Christian parents should put an emphasis on teaching their children from the Bible…
“Teaching the wisdom of Scripture is what will beautify your children and furnish your house. So instructing your children in biblical truth should be the central feature of your input. Give time and attention to how, where and when you will do this.”
But the Bible also needs to be lived out before their eyes. As you teach your children bring in your own story, tell them your testimony…
“Capture them with God’s big story, but also with your own little story which is part of that big story.”
In the second part of the book Ann speaks about how parents can practically live out their faith in front of their children. Ann says that the Christian house should be one that exemplifies and teaches a right understanding of sorrow, singing, sympathy, service, sharing and sojourn. As a preacher, I take my hat off to Ann for the alliteration in this book!
“We might like to paint a facade over our family lives which says everything is always wonderful, but there is not warrant for that in the Bible. The inhabitants of a happy house know how to weep. There are things that should, rightly, make us sorrowful.”
Parents should teach their children how to weep, it is not a sign of weakness but an acknowledgement that we live in a broken world and that we are all broken people.
I could fill this post with more wonderful quotes from Ann as she helps parents think about what a healthy family culture is, but then you’d be reading all day. Some of the things I love about this book are the importance that is places on the centrality of the Bible in the Christian home, the place it gives to the local church and serving in it and how it doesn’t paint this perfect world but is real! There are so many good things about this book that I could go on about, but instead of me writing for ages just go buy it and you’ll see what I mean.
I am not a parent, God willing one day I will be, but this book has been really helpful for me to think about the culture of my home now. I want people who visit my home to find a subculture that glorifies God, that revolves around Him and that lifts their eyes to the wonders of the good news of Jesus. This book is written primarily for parents, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend you buy it!
Why not buy a copy here, read it and give a copy away to a family who are expecting or who already have children? It is such an easy read that is absolutely packed with practical wisdom from a godly grandmother to a generation of parents who want to raise their children according to God’s wisdom.
Ann Benton is the wife of John Benton, a church minister, author and magazine editor. John and Ann have developed and run practical Marriage orienting and enrichment seminars to the benefit of numerous couples (and couples to be).