How was 2013 for your family? I hope it was great!
But if you're like me, you're always hoping next year will be better.
Here are 5 simple tips that I hope can help you have a great 2014 as a family, no matter what kind of 2013 you had.
1. Have dinner together 5 times a week. As a busy dad myself, I know how hard this can be. But it is doable and studies keep showing the benefits. The Huffington Post recently reported that families who eat dinner together at least 5 times a week have kids who do better academically, who have fewer weight problems, fewer eating disorders and fewer substance abuse issues. Who doesn't want that for their kids? The key? Eating dinner together 5 times a week.
And it's also a great forum in which to say a prayer together and talk about God and important things. Dinner doesn't have to be fancy…you just need to eat it together.
2. Keep a date night with your spouse. One of the best gifts you can give your kids is a healthy marriage. This doesn't have to be complicated either, but it's so important. My wife Toni and I talked about our ups and downs as a couple a year ago during the Like It Or Love It series (you can read a summary of the message and view the video here), and a date night is of the things we're so thankful we kept up even when it was hard.
If you're a single parent, make sure you keep investing in your own well-being. You'll be glad you did, and so will your kids.
3. Get to know your child's small group leader. Did you know your kids have a small group leader? It's true. From infancy right through the final year of high school, your kids have a group leader who knows their name, prays for them and spends time with them. Why? Because we believe every child needs another adult who says the same thing a loving parent would say. Let's face it; sometimes they hear it better from someone else, don't they? So we build that into our ministry.
The better your kids know their small group leader, the better chance they have of having the right influences in their lives. If you don't know your child's small group leader, introduce yourself on Sunday. We'd love to connect you!
4. Encourage your child or teen to get to know the other kids in their small group. Want to see a picture of your son or daughter ten years from now? Look at their friends. A kids' friends determine the quality and direction of their life. Each kid or teen at Connexus not only has a small group leader, but a small group with kids their own age.
In each group are kids who are pursuing Christ and trying to make wise choices. Invite some of them over to your place to hang out with your kids; encourage the relationships that bring life.
5. Attend the same service every week. I'll be the first to tell you that it doesn't make much difference to you as an adult if you attend 8:30 one week and 10:00 the next, or even switch campuses from time to time. But it makes all the difference to your child and teen. Why? Because the small group leaders and groups are different at each service.
Consistent (weekly is best) attendance at the same service time is going to give your son or daughter the best advantage they can have in terms of getting to know their group leader and friends in their group. Not sure what service to attend? 8:30 is an awesome choice because we have room and it frees up seats for others at 10:00. Podcasting the message works for adults. (your group meets mid-week)..but you can't podcast relationships.
It's not that hard, is it?
These small changes could add up to a big difference by the time 2014 is over. Really.
Speaking of 2014, we're kicking off the new year with a bang this Sunday across all our environments! Can't wait to see you. Join us at 8:30 or 10:00!
And if there's any other way we can help, let me know.
We love your family.