Family Home Evening 123
Planting Gospel Seeds In Your Christ-Centered Home
By: Kirsten Smith & FHE123
Lead your children to Christ by creating an environment of learning, planting seeds of truth, and nurturing their relationship with Him.
“Who planted all these trees?” My 5-year-old once asked me while we were out on a family hike. My answer to him involved a little bit of science and a whole lot of miracles. Similar to our own lives.
The science behind a tall tree starts with the germination of a tiny seed. Germination requires just the right levels of sunlight, water, temperature, airflow, and nutrients. But isn’t it also amazing that the optimal environment can happen again and again out in nature, seemingly all on its own. If I'm being honest, my attempts at germinating smaller seeds in a controlled environment have been much less successful. Nature truly is a mix of science and miracles.
Planting seeds of faith in our children follows a similar pattern. We are responsible for sowing the gospel seeds but it is God who brings forth the harvest. Remember: It is God who will draw their hearts to Him. Not our actions. Our work is to create a fertile environment and then provide the seeds, but the miracle comes in seeing what our children do with their agency. Again in their lives we will witness a little bit of science, and a whole lot of miracles.
“So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth;
but God that giveth the increase.”
- 1 Corinthians 3:7
Prepare the Conditions
Both soil and seed need to be healthy for germination to be successful. When discussing gospel learning, the seed is good. The Word of God is true. Sticking to pure doctrine allows us to plant the purest seeds. These doctrinal seeds are found directly in the scriptures and in the words of modern and ancient prophets. Teaching these gospel principles in our home is the quickest way to ensure that the seeds are delivered directly to the hearts of our children.
“One of the greatest blessings we can offer to the world is the power of a Christ-centered home where the gospel is taught, covenants are kept, and love abounds.”
-Elder Richard G. Scott
Addressing the “soil” takes a little more trial and error. Although we can not control the outcome, our efforts in creating an atmosphere for learning will have a lasting impact on our children. There are some tried and true methods for what a safe learning environment looks like. Consider these principles while reflecting on your own home environment.
Physical Elements: When our home becomes a place of gospel learning it takes on a new purpose. Fill your home with things that invite the spirit. Easy access to scriptures, pictures or artwork that direct thoughts to Him, music that uplifts, and consistent opportunities to pray. Let your children see you reading your bible, studying your scriptures, and delighting in the gospel. Lead them in prayer. Practice talking with Him and sharing your heart with Him. When we pray with our family we can teach them about our relationship with God and the love we feel for Him. And in doing so, we invite the Holy Ghost into our homes to continue teaching in ways we can’t. All of these can create a physical environment that is more conducive to learning and growth.
Atmosphere: Some less tangible aspects also affect the atmosphere in our home. Relationships and individual attitudes will affect the ability of gospel seeds to grow. Aim for a home that is loving and respectful where everyone feels safe and comfortable. Encourage an openness in sharing; not only questions and concerns but also experiences and testimonies.
( When to Schedule Family Home Evening) -See previous blog
Nutrients: When hardened soil is the problem, consider using the Love of God to soften it. When the environment in the home is too harsh, use the peace of Christ to calm it. Turn to Him and use His power to make your conditions better. Pray for guidance on how to make your home a more fertile learning environment and then follow the direction you receive.
Plant the seed
Trees in the forest naturally produce seeds needed to grow the next generation of trees. The amount of seeds or pine cones produced every year greatly outnumbers the number of new trees that begin to grow. This is because the tree seems to know that not every seed will take root and that producing more seeds gives a greater likelihood of success. We can use this model while teaching our children the gospel and planting those seeds of faith.
Regular Family Night provides an opportunity to consistently introduce new gospel truths. Focused lessons taught in the home allow for seeds to be planted again and again. Knowing that not every lesson will take hold, we can change our goal for Family Home Evening. It is not another item to check off a list. It is not a one-and-done teaching strategy. It is an opportunity to familiarize our children with Christ, to allow them the chance to come closer to Him. As faithful parents, we are responsible to lead our children to Christ, helping them learn gospel principles and then providing safe opportunities to practice them in their lives.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old,
he will not depart from it”
If you have ever tried gardening, you probably have strong feelings about weeds. Those pesky things grow under the most neglected conditions. Satan works in similar ways. He tempts us with choices that look easy and quick but later we come to find that the fruit is not what we expected. It is thorny and useless. He creeps into our lives subtly and his actions are relentless. We need to be vigilant about removing those weeds from our family life. Establish priorities and then regularly take inventory of what needs to change so your family can stay on the path.
Some people use a literal weed barrier to protect their crops. Thick plastic that prohibits growth. In our family life, there are layers of protection we can add to fortify our homes into safe havens. Those layers of protection can block Satan's influence before it has a chance to grow.
We need to also teach our children to discern between Satan's temptations and the truths in the Gospel. We do this by helping them learn to recognize how they Hear Him. Starting young, we can prepare their hearts to seek out the good. God’s truth speaks for itself and we can show them the difference.
“It has never been more imperative to know how the Spirit speaks to you than right now.…I renew my plea for you to do whatever it takes to increase your spiritual
capacity to receive personal revelation.”
-Russell M. Nelson
Ready to Create a Plan?
Nature seems to operate best without humans dictating things. But when we are dealing with our own lives, success is found in knowing what you want to do and then actually doing it. Create a plan for how you want to lead your children to Christ. Then make goals regarding the things you can control. Consider the following questions:
What changes can you make to your home that will improve the environment?
What gospel seeds are most important to you?
How can you be better at planting those seeds?
The answers to these questions will be unique and will change as you experience different stages of life. But if your end goal is Christ, then the seed is His Word.
Finding seeds in Scripture Study
There is no right way to study the gospel. There are many ways to have a Christ centered home. Consider some of the following ideas. Learning can happen during nightly scripture study as you work your way through a gospel text from beginning to end. Or perhaps you will feel the need to study the scriptures with your family based on topics such as prayer, atonement or repentance. Or maybe you teach your family to search the scriptures for answers to specific questions. Or alternatively you might like to focus on specific scriptures that inspire you.
We recommend following the Come Follow Me Curriculum to guide your study. Using our weekly lessons at FHE123 as a guide, you can easily plan short but meaningful lessons that will lead your family through the stories and principles taught in the Old Testament.
However, you choose, making scripture study a regular part of your family will offer many opportunities for seeds to be planted in the hearts of those in your home.
“Mothers and fathers need to plant the seeds of the gospel firmly in the hearts of their children, to create in them a desire to serve and also to know how to serve—seeds of hard work, seeds of courtesy, seeds of thrift. Then, deep in their hearts, your sons and daughters need to have planted the more valuable seeds of spirituality—the seeds of cleanliness, the seeds of love, the seeds of virtue, the seeds of courage”
Start where you are
Anything can feel overwhelming when you are starting new. Instead, try pairing gospel seed planting with another habit you are already successful at. Is your family good at eating meals together? Or brushing teeth every night? Maybe every day you load up in the car for a ride to school or share a story together at bedtime? Capitalize on those strengths by connecting a small gospel moment directly to them. Read a scripture story at bedtime, add gospel conversation to your dinner, sing a primary song while brushing teeth or practice reciting scripture in the car together. These small changes are worth the effort.
No forest was created in a day. And our relationship with Christ doesn't happen overnight. Avoid feelings of comparison or being paralyzed by the things you think you “should” be doing. Instead of thinking about what your family gospel study should look like, take an honest inventory of where you are currently and just start there.
“If you worry about yesterday’s failures, Then today's successes will be few.”
Don't give up
My first attempts at gardening were mostly a failure. My strawberry plants didn’t take root, very few of my seeds grew, and many that did grow ended up shriveled up or were eaten by bugs. This is all part of the process. We learn by doing. We learn through mistakes. And our failed efforts are not in vain.
The miracle of conversion is that it happens in spite of our imperfections. Although our actions can open doors and plant seeds, the Holy Ghost is the one who truly converts. After we do all that we can do as parents, we have to accept our children’s agency and love them where they are on their own, personal, journey. Nature’s seeds grow in their own season, just like our children and just like ourselves.
The goal is not to perfect our children. It is to lead them to Christ. And we do this by creating a gospel-centered home where our love for Him aids us in our parenting choices and daily rhythms. Create a fertile environment. Plant good seeds. And continually start again with a valiant effort.
“The Lord loves effort, because effort brings rewards that can’t come without it.”