What follows is a resource we published for summer 2007 for family and individual use as a "Christian practices in the home" devotional resource. Portions of it are adapted from a variety of places, including Life Innovation's Prepare/Enrich program, etc.
Home is church, too!
A model for evening home huddles as a family
Forgiveness, hospitality and meal preparation
First, make some space. Turn off the TV, cell phones, pagers, and radio. Take a breath, and relax. Invite God into your midst.
Find some way to be reconciled with each other. Sometimes we can cruise along as a family and forget to ask for forgiveness. So, sit down together as a family, give each person time to share what they need from the family, and really listen to each other. Basic rules for such a gathering. 1) When you are sharing what you need, feel free to speak whatever is on your mind. 2) When you are listening, don’t jump in with opinions, or respond negatively. Instead, be an active listener and just tell the person what you heard.
At the end of this time together, brainstorm a trial solution to try and help address any issue your family needs to resolve. Then say the following, “Will you forgive me?” Response from everyone: “Yes, for Jesus’ sake, we forgive you.”
Then, after you’ve had this time of forgiveness, get to work splitting up duties to prepare your family meal. Make sure everyone has a job. No one person should have to shoulder the load all by themselves.
At the beginning of the meal, pray this prayer, “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blessed. Praised be God who is our bread, may all the world be clothed and fed. Amen.” If you have a hymnal or a Bible, you can ask members of the family to look up and share a Bible verse, or look up and sing a hymn.
Then eat together. During the meal, share your highs and lows. A high is something good that happened during the week. A low is something not so good. Give each person time to share their highs and lows.
After you eat together, select a family activity to do together. Take a walk, play a game, do a service project together, whatever seems like a good family activity. If you live alone, you may wish to seek someone out and invite them to eat and do an activity with you. When you are doing this activity together, keep in mind these communication skills that can help improve your relationships:
Look for the good in your family member or friend, and give them a compliment.
Praise your family members as much as possible.
Take time to listen to each other.
Listen to understand—not to judge.
Use active listening, which involves summarizing your partner’s comments before you share your reactions or feelings.
Be assertive. Share your feelings by using “I” statements (i.e. I feel… or I think…)
When issues arise, avoid blaming each other and seek solutions.
Make your family and relationships a high priority.
If your family is really struggling with some issues, seek counseling before they become more serious. Doing so will make it easier to find solutions.