Q&A with Barbara Reaoch

Q&A with Barbara Reaoch


Barbara Reaoch

Director of children’s division at Bible Study Fellowship

Barbara is Bible Study Fellowship’s director of children’s division and author of A Jesus Christmas, Why Christmas? and Why Easter? She loves God, her husband, their family and writing gospel-centered children’s materials. She provides help for starting faith-based conversations and prayer at reachingheartsandminds.com.

Q: Sunday school and youth group only occur once or twice a week, and much of a child or teens’ spiritual development occurs in their daily routine outside of church. What can both pastors and parents do to be better partners in discipling the next generation? 01

Every church needs to strategize how to support parents in their God-given responsibility to influence their families (Psalm 78:4–7). Pastors should help parents grasp the value of and need for the spiritual development of their family. By sharing preaching schedules in advance, pastors encourage their churches to commit to reading the related Bible passages. This especially helps parents prepare their families to enter more fully into worship. Churches can also promote Bible-reading, faith conversations and prayer in the home by training members to ask and discuss basic questions about the Bible passage (What does it say? What does it mean? What does it mean to me?) and providing simple resources based on the pastor’s scripture for the sermon. As parents exercise spiritual leadership in the home, the entire family enjoys increased continuity between home and church.

Q: What are some ways that churches can take into account the various members, schedules and needs that accompany the diversity of households that likely make up their congregation? 02

My family currently enjoys the blessing and benefit of a multi-generational home. These are some of the special needs of this kind of household: how to encourage grandparent residents to participate in faith-based conversations with grandchildren, how to establish constructive authority boundaries, how to share responsibility in discipline issues or how to prepare for redemptive interaction in discipline issues.

In other households, needs might include: how a single parent can prioritize their own relationship with God to cope with loneliness, frustration or fear, how to prioritize the spiritual development of the family with a sole responsible adult or how to establish and maintain a relationship with a mentor.

Churches can train “family mentors” for in-home demos of faith-based conversations and redemptive discipline conversations with children and grandchildren in any type of household. For single or working parents, using Zoom, Google Hangouts, closed Facebook groups or other digital options could allow for flexibility.

Q: When someone in a household takes on the role of spiritual coach, how can churches be there to resource and encourage them? 03

Churches can provide “Spiritual Leadership in the Home” classes, where parents receive practical tips for how to lead their family in Bible reading, faith-based conversations and prayer. These classes can also promote what I call a “live it and tell it” model of spiritual leadership, as described in Deuteronomy 6:6–7:

  • Live it: Parents apply the Bible in their everyday interaction with their kids. For example, one woman told me her kids “caught” her husband reading his Bible and then started reading their Bible too! Another woman said that when her family got home from church after hearing a sermon on Matthew 6:14-15, God gave her an opportunity to ask her son’s forgiveness for speaking harshly. Later she overheard him asking his younger brother’s forgiveness for an offense.
  • Tell it: Parents talk with their family about the Bible, read it and discuss how to take to heart biblical principles. Train parents to engage their kids in “Godward conversations.” For example, a Godward conversation helps a child see beyond the beauty of a sunset to the God who powerfully created it that we might know him.
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