7 ways to be more attentive at home

By Ben Mandrell

Church planting is all about relationships, and although building these relationships is good, it’s important to pursue them alongside your family. Here are seven key ways I’ve found to be more attentive at home.

1. Ask children good questions and have them ask questions

We have people over a lot, so we have our children prepare one question they can ask guests when they come over. This can be anything from their favorite ride at Disney to their favorite sport. We want to make sure we pull the children into conversations, instead of just making them sit there.

We also are very specific in the questions we ask them personally. We try to stay away from go-to questions like “How was your day?” or “How was school?” We want to really know them and understand what is going on in their lives. We have found the questions that work best center around their relationships with friends, their teachers, and specific questions about what they are studying.

2. Study the Word together

We do a lot of Bible trivia together, and the kids really love it. We have a very competitive family, so this has been fun for us. We even started inviting neighbor children over for a world religion class once a week. Our kids are in public school, so they often hear information about other religions, and we want to make sure they understand other religions from a Christian worldview. Right now, we have about 25 kids who come over to learn. We make it fun and create games as we learn. Parents even come and sit in with us!

3. Celebrate milestones

We have established milestone birthdays where we take the kids on fun trips. They get to go on a fun trip with either me or my wife when they are 13. We just took our oldest to New York City for this milestone. We also try to do significant things with them to celebrate their successes.

4. Be committed to communication

Communication is so important. Lynley and I actually have a Saturday morning calendar meeting for about an hour, when we talk through the next week. We talk about sports, schedules, and special events. We try to be proactive instead of reactive. We save our kids’ screen time for this period so we can really knock out the schedule for the next week. All our kids are in sports right now, so this has become even more important.

5. Finish your sermon during the work week

I don’t like going into the weekend with anything over my head, so I make sure my sermons are always ready by Thursdays. I don’t like being half available for my family; I want to be truly present for them. We enjoy watching football games together and try to do fun things in the city when our budget allows.

6. Retreat together

During the holidays, we decided to go with my wife’s family and rent a cabin in the mountains. It was so nice to get away and spend some time outside our typical routine and environment. As often as possible, we try to get out of the city we serve in and reset.

7. Name your family values

My wife and I had very different upbringings. Something that really helped us was naming our family values. We each wrote down values, and then circled the ones we felt were the most important. We then worked together to narrow down the list to 10 things. We printed them off and find that use them all the time.

Published April 2, 2018

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Ben Mandrell

Ben Mandrell is the founding pastor of Storyline Fellowship Church in Arvada, Colorado. Ben and his wife, Lynley, have four kids and currently live on just outside Denver.