Healthy Family Dynamics for Ministry Leaders : Ryan Rush
How can we better embrace healthy family dynamics in our own homes as pastors and ministry leaders? In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by Ryan Rush. Ryan is lead pastor of Kingsland Baptist Church in Katy, Texas. He’s a national voice in the Faith at Home movement, and his latest book is entitled Restore The Table. Together, Ryan and Jason look at some of the unique challenges we have as ministry leaders when it comes to healthy family dynamics, including the fact that we often feel our families are under a microscope. Now, Ryan shares some incredibly practical tools and strategies to help you foster and nurture a healthy family, including some ideas around mealtimes. And you’re not going to want to miss his 10-second rule when it comes to having conversations with your kids.
Looking to dig more deeply into this topic and conversation? Every week we go the extra mile and create a free toolkit so you and your ministry team can dive deeper into the topic that is discussed. Find your Weekly Toolkit below… Love well, Live well, Lead well!
- Video links to this week’s episode – easily share with the ministry leaders in your church
- Audio links to this week’s episode – easily share with the ministry leaders in your church
- Additional resource links from this week’s conversation – so you and your team can easily find what is mentioned or referenced
- Ministry Leaders Growth Guide – key insights and concepts from this week’s conversation as well as engaging questions for you and your team to consider and process
- Full-text transcript of this week’s episode – review something you heard, pass along snippets, post tweets, create presentations to share, or use in whatever way you find most helpful in developing your ministry leaders
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Additional Resource Links
www.restorethetable.com – Visit Ryan’s website for his book, helpful resources, and exciting content crafted to enrich and empower your spiritual path!
Restore the Table: Discovering the Powerful Connections of Meaningful Mealtimes – In his book, Ryan emphasizes the importance of meaningful mealtimes and how gathering around a table with those we love can help build relationships, improve our quality of life, and go deeper in our walk with God.
www.empoweredhomes.org – Empowered Homes exists to provide practical resources and strategies to help empower your home to be all that it was designed to be. How do we discover that purpose?
Feeling overwhelmed, burned out, or just want to talk? Complimentary Coaching Session for Pastors http://PastorServe.org/freesession
Ministry Leaders Growth Guide
Key Insights and Concepts
- As pastors, it’s crucial to maintain authenticity at home, avoiding the temptation to prioritize ministry tasks over genuine family connection.
- Strive to be a good Christ-follower at home, rather than attempting to be a perfect pastor. This helps you foster trust and authenticity within the family.
- Meaningful mealtimes serve as a powerful cornerstone for family connection, providing scheduled, special, and spiritual moments that transcend daily routines.
- Empowering families to prioritize shared meals fosters resilience and cohesion, impacting everything from teen well-being to relational dynamics within the household.
- Transparency at home doesn’t mean oversharing; it’s about finding a balance between authenticity and respecting personal boundaries within the family unit.
- Secondary conversations sparked by meaningful mealtimes offer opportunities for parents to navigate unexpected topics with grace, reinforcing trust and openness.
- The 10-Second Rule reminds parents to respond with empathy and openness when faced with shocking statements from their children, cultivating an atmosphere of trust.
- Incorporating intentional conversation starters, like discussing highs and lows of the day, enriches mealtime experiences, encouraging deeper connections and reflection.
- Beyond personal growth, family meals can serve as a bridge for outreach, inviting neighbors and acquaintances into a space of hospitality and genuine connection.
- The theological significance of food throughout Scripture underscores the sacredness and importance of shared meals, from covenant ceremonies to the Last Supper.
- Addressing unresolved pain within the family is essential for pastors, emphasizing the importance of seeking support and vulnerability within trusted circles.
- Pastors must acknowledge their own vulnerabilities and seek community support to navigate family challenges authentically, avoiding the trap of presenting a facade of perfection.
- By addressing past hurts and fostering authentic community, pastors can lead by example, creating spaces where families can find healing, growth, and genuine connection.
Questions for Reflection
- How would I describe the general dynamic between a pastor’s family and ministry? What challenges are there? What blessings are there?
- Reflecting on the demands of ministry and the desire for authenticity at home, how am I currently engaging in genuine connections with my family amidst pastoral responsibilities? If I were to ask my spouse and kids, how do I think they would respond about how I am engaging with my family?
- What is the difference between being a good Christ-follower at home and trying to be a good pastor at home? Which of these have I been focusing more on in my own family life? Are there any changes I need to consider?
- How is our local church either helping or hurting the possibility of shared family mealtimes? How can this be developed or improved?
- Thinking about the significance of meaningful mealtimes, how can I implement scheduled, special, and spiritual elements into my family’s dining experiences? What would scheduling 5 meals a week with my family look like?
- In what ways have I observed the impact of shared meals, or the lack of shared meals, on family dynamics, well-being, and resilience within my own household? What can I learn from these observations?
- Balancing transparency and personal boundaries can be challenging. How do I navigate sharing authentically with my community while respecting the individual privacy of my family members?
- The 10-Second Rule offers guidance for responding to unexpected or challenging statements from loved ones. How can I apply this principle in my own parenting or relational interactions?
- Do I regularly incorporate intentional conversation starters, like discussing the highs and lows of the day, into our mealtime routines? How might this practice deepen connections and foster reflection within my family?
- Reflecting on the theological significance of food throughout Scripture, how can I cultivate a deeper appreciation for shared meals as sacred moments of connection with God and others?
- How might I initiate practical initiatives, such as the Restore the Table challenge, within my own community to encourage prioritizing meaningful mealtimes, relational growth, and outreach within the community?
- Addressing unresolved pain within the family is essential for holistic well-being. How can I create spaces of vulnerability and support within my community for individuals and families navigating challenges? What would it take for our local church to minister in this way?
- As a pastor, how do I balance the expectations of leadership with the recognition of my own vulnerabilities and need for community support in navigating family challenges? How can I better get connected with a trusted coach or colleague where I can be authentic and honest?
How can we better embrace healthy family dynamics in our own homes as pastors and ministry leaders?
In this episode, I’m joined by Ryan Rush. Ryan is lead pastor of Kingsland Baptist Church in Katy, Texas. He’s a national voice in the Faith at Home movement, and his latest book is entitled Restore The Table. Together, Ryan and I look at some of the unique challenges we have as ministry leaders when it comes to healthy family dynamics, including the fact that we often feel our families are under a microscope. Now, Ryan shares some incredibly practical tools and strategies to help you foster and nurture a healthy family, including some ideas around mealtimes. And you’re not going to want to miss his 10-second rule when it comes to having conversations with your kids. Are you ready? Let’s go.
Hello, friends, and welcome to another insightful episode of FrontStage BackStage. I’m your host, Jason Daye. Every single week, it is my privilege and honor to sit down with a trusted ministry leader, and we dive into a topic all in an effort to help you and ministry leaders just like you embrace healthy rhythms for both your life and ministry. I’m excited about this week’s topic and this week’s guest. We are a part of the Pastor Serve Network. And every week not only do we provide a show or a podcast episode for you, but we also create an entire toolkit that you can use personally and you can use with your ministry leadership team at your local church to dig more deeply into the topic that we tackle. So you can find that at PastorServe.org/network. There you’ll find a bunch of different resources including links to resources and tools that we mentioned during the show. But also in there, you’ll find a Ministry Leaders Growth Guide, and this is a series of questions to help you reflect and dig into this episode and the topic that we’re discussing. So be sure to check that out at PastorServe.org/network. And then our team at Pastor Serve loves walking alongside ministry leaders and our team of trusted coaches across the country are offering a complimentary coaching session. So, if you’ve always wondered what it might be like to connect with a ministry coach, this is your opportunity. You can find out details about that at PastorServe.org/freesession. If you’re joining us on YouTube, please give us a thumbs up and take a moment to drop your name and the name of your church in the comments below. We love getting to know our audience better. Our team will be praying for you and for your ministry. So be sure to drop your name and your church name in the comments. Whether you’re joining us on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform, please be sure to subscribe and follow. You do not want to miss out on any of these great conversations. As I said, I’m excited about this week’s topic and this week’s guest. At this time, I’d like to welcome Ryan Rush to the show. Ryan, welcome!
Hey, Jason, it’s good to be with you.
Yeah, so good to have you. Thank you for carving some time out to hang out with us here on FrontStage BackStage. Now, Ryan, I want to start off by just allowing you to share with our audience a little bit of your story so they know who you are and a little bit about your ministry, your family, those types of things. So Ryan, let us hear. Who is Ryan Rush?
Man, I’d love to, and you know, I’m among friends today. I love Pastor Serve, and I am a pastor first. So yes, I’m an author. I get to teach seminary at times, and I’m blessed by that. But I’m a senior pastor first. And I know the ins and outs of that and what it can do as far as challenges with families. So, I have been in ministry since I was 15 years old, I felt a call to ministry when I was 14 and surrendered to that. And that’s what we used to call it, you know. And went before my church. And I was naive enough to think that when God called me to be a pastor that I should go do it. And so I found a church that called me as the worship minister at 15 years old. And before you’re impressed by that, imagine a church desperate enough to call a 15-year-old as their minister of worship. So I won’t say the name of the church, little bitty country church, but I had some wonderful memories all through high school. I had to get my hardship driver’s license to get to work. And so that sort of shaped and framed how I do ministry. I have been in larger churches now but in some ways, what I’ve been trying to do for all these years, is sort of go back and rediscover the family dynamics of that little place that meant so much to me. My wife and I have been married for 32 years. We have three daughters, all girls at the Rush house, no stinky boys and so grateful for that. No offense to the guys there. So 30, 27, and 17. Just one other dynamic because it really does sort of shape my ministry and how I think about family. Our youngest daughter who’s 17 has special needs. And so she’s nonverbal, autistic, and has a unique chromosomal challenge that kind of influences a lot of what she walks through. So we’ve had a number of really challenging medical difficulties over the last decade and a half. And I feel like I see ministry and family a little bit differently because of that when you walk through some challenges. So that’s kind of a nutshell version of where we are. My PhD is in leadership. I focused on how pastors are impacted by their upbringing and their families and how they minister to their own families. And so it’s right in line with what we’re talking about.
That’s awesome, Ryan. Thank you so much for giving us a snapshot. Love to hear that. And as we’re thinking about one of the biggest questions oftentimes that we run into in ministry with pastors and ministry leaders is kind of how do we navigate family dynamics in ministry. And Ryan, you and I, we’ve heard stories, we probably all have, everyone watching and listening along, probably has heard stories from some PKs, some pastor’s kids, whose stories are heartbreaking. And they felt like their parents maybe chose the church or chose the ministry over them. Like maybe they were put into a secondary position. And that’s a challenge. And none of us in ministry would ever want that to be our kid’s experience. And yet, that happens. So, to begin, Ryan, I would love for you just to share a little bit. Why is this a challenge for ministry leaders and pastors?
Yeah, it’s a great question. Because I think every pastor listening has to deal with that and face the challenge, right? First of all, we hear all the horror stories about preacher’s kids. That is a stereotype that’s not always true. But we also are aware we don’t want to drive away. And my greatest fear would be that I talk about family all the time, and my girls see something different when I come home. And so when they were growing up, we were always aware of that. Listen, it’s a subtle thing that’s easy to do because you find yourself wanting to prepare materials or share something at the church. And so you’re doing that same thing at home. And if you’re not careful, it comes across as sort of a clinical thing. Is it, though? If I were a marriage therapist and I only took my wife on dates to say, Hey, listen, I’ve got to get some material for my next book. So let’s go out to eat. And let’s talk about this. It’s not the way it works, right? And so some great advice I heard from Larry Osborne, he’s written so many books. Years ago, at a pastor’s conference, and it wasn’t even the point of his talk, he said it kind of as an aside. But he said, Don’t try to be a great spiritual giant at home, don’t try to be a pastor at home, just be a good Christian at home, and let your kids see that. Because if not, you’re going to look like a phony. So that really did drive a lot of the things we do. So, I just wrote on restoring the table and treasuring the mealtimes at home. And I admitted in there, we didn’t do a lot of family devotions at our house. And that kind of strikes some people as odd because that’s what pastors are supposed to do, right? Tell your family to do that. It just didn’t work in a pastor’s home. Because they always felt like it was a little bit staged. And like there was a lesson plan. And it worked a lot better for us to just throw out a topic or a TV show and say, What do you think about that? And then bring it back to Biblical principles. So that’s more of a practical thing. But I mean, to really get in the weeds of your question, here’s the truth. None of us are perfect. I mean, we have bad days, we get, you know, angry at one another at home, we hurt people in our homes more than anybody because we’re around them more and we love them more, right? And so because of that, sometimes we start to fear that we’re going to be phony. And so we just stop investing in spiritual things with our kids. And so all of a sudden this really weird wall goes up. And I think that’s one of the reasons why so many pastors avoid talking about family issues, because they think, Man, I can’t do this. I’m not doing it perfectly myself.
Yeah, that’s a great point, Ryan. And the idea to give ourselves some grace and to give others in the ministry world grace, right? We know, all of us know, we have our own stories that we’re not going to get it right every time. And I think that’s important. And a good point there is that whenever you do have struggles, whenever you are wrestling through things, lots of times pastors and ministry leaders try to go it alone, right? Because you don’t want to be vulnerable. You don’t want to, you think every other pastor or ministry leader has got it dialed in and somehow you don’t, right? But just the knowledge that we’re all human and we’re all doing our best. We’re all at times maybe leaning in a little more and at times maybe we’re a little detached. But what does that look like? And understanding that we’re all kind of on this journey as parents.
Yeah. In general terms, another thing that I’ve had to look at as my kids were growing up. Again, they’re grown up. 30 and 27. They’ve been there and done that, they’re out of the house and doing great. But when they were at home, we had to find the balance of when we were spending time together not making it feel like they were in a fishbowl. They already did. So we wanted to share our own difficulties so that I could be authentic. But there’s a difference between, this is going to sound bad but it’s true. A difference between authenticity and transparency as a dad and a husband. So I want to find opportunities where I can be authentic so they know you don’t have to be perfect to have a home that’s a growing and healthy home, without sharing stuff that’s not mine to share. That impacts my girls, my kids, right? And so you find those ways to do that. Because I didn’t want my kids to grow up thinking they resented having a microscope on our home. Another thing that I would do that’s a small practical thing that I think pastors, senior pastors, or teachers could understand, is we used to pay a license fee to our girls when they came up in a sermon. And it started at $1. And then their grandparents got involved as their agents and it went to $5. But I didn’t want them to say, oh, no, Dad’s talking about me again about something funny I said at dinner. If I brought up something that came up at home, they got paid for it. And it just kind of turned the tide on how they thought about it. It’s a small thing, but it mattered.
I love that, Ryan. My kids, when they watch this, are gonna be like you owe me a lot of money at this point. Right? That’s awesome. I love it. Okay, brother. So there are definitely challenges. But there are some thoughtful things that we can do as pastors and ministry leaders when it comes to healthy family dynamics. One of the big things that you have championed and you’ve invested a lot of energy in is around, of all things, mealtimes. Now, when we think about mealtimes, obviously, I think every parent is like, yeah, I mean we’ve heard some of the research out there like yeah, you should gather around the table and have a meal with your family. Help us understand, Ryan, how did you first get kind of zoned in on this? Because this is a pretty big thing for you. How’d you get zoned in on this? And what led to you as a dad, I mean, not just a pastor, but as a dad, saying, Hey, this is going to be a priority for us.
Absolutely. First of all, I wanted to find a way to cultivate health in the homes that we serve. It’s a big part of what we do at Kingsland is one of our core values is empowered homes. It’s a part of the outsourcing ministry that we have here. So we wanted to find some ways to do that. And if you start to list all the different ways you can help a home be healthy, it’s a pretty extensive list that can be exhausting and overwhelming for a family. So we wanted to find that one key point that could really allow all the others to happen. Sort of the fulcrum on which everything else turned. And we found that mealtimes were the key ingredient. If we could just convince our families to invest in five meaningful meal times a week with the ones they loved, then it could make a huge difference. And of course, there’s tons of secular research, you kind of alluded to that. If you just Google it, it’s amazing how much science, psychology, and sociology is catching up with this idea. Major breakthroughs in seeing how teen obesity, teen drug use, teen suicide, teen alcohol use, teen well-being, and all this, start to change when there are meaningful mealtimes happening on a regular basis with their parents. Now, of course, we want to go beyond that because, in Scripture, the table is so profoundly powerful. So what we found, kind of an inside view here, is if we could have the table, if we could take the table in every home we serve. Now we had a Trojan horse through which we could insert all this other stuff, we just happened to find that the table had so much more impact than we ever imagined when we challenged our families to do this. And honestly, I saw it anecdotally in my own home. This was a place of solace when everybody else was running around. All the challenges of ministry. If we sealed off that time, five times a week, and they weren’t gourmet meals every time. But to say we’re turning off the technology and we’re going to have this time together. It made all the difference in the world. Because there’s a difference in sitting around a living room saying, Now kids, we’re going to have a devotion and saying, Hey, let’s sit down at dinner and shut everything off. How was your day? It’s just so much more natural.
Yeah, yeah, that’s great. So talk to us a little bit, Ryan, about some of the practical things that you did in instituting this. Because a lot of people are like, Well wait, we have kids in sports, we have kids in music, we have this, and we have events going on at church. So just kind of corralling that altogether, I mean that takes intentionality. So talk to us a little bit about that piece on the front end. And I’d love to hear how you kind of put a stake in the ground and said, Okay, let’s do this.
Absolutely. So when we first made this challenge to our people at Kingsland, about nine years ago, it was a real simple challenge. And we were shocked at the number of people who said, we’re just not doing that. First of all, I mean, people want to, they know it’s important, but they’re not doing it. And second, how effective and impactful it was to our families, many of whom are still doing it today. So before I tell you the three components that I think a meaningful mealtime has, let me tell you what it’s not to kind of put everybody at ease. It’s not a four-course meal. It doesn’t even have to be home-cooked. I mean, you can have a meaningful meal time at the Chick-fil-A, and it’s fine. It doesn’t have to be dinner. It can be breakfast, and that’s worked for a lot of people, it can be lunch, it can be a lot of different things. So it’s not saying we’re elevating the quality of the food. That may be important but that’s another podcast, right? I’m not trying to address nutrition here. What I’m saying is that it has three different phases. First of all, meaningful mealtimes are scheduled. So you say, I mean, yes, different things happen. I know that kids are involved in all sorts of extracurricular activities. But we’re saying, Hey, make a point to say, you’re gonna have five times a week. Where you say as much as possible, we’re not going to be legalistic, but we’re going to set aside this time to be together for an hour around the table. Like I said, it could be breakfast. It could be Sunday after church. Okay, there’s one, like, let’s just go have a meaningful meal with one another right after church. And then you find a time maybe Wednesday, in between the leagues, before practices, or whatever it is. So you seal that up. If they’re not scheduled, they’re probably not going to happen by accident, right? And that’s the reason so many people prize meals, especially in ministry families, and then say man, we looked up and we barely saw each other all week because we didn’t schedule it. You have to eat anyway, why not eat together? So meaningful mealtimes are scheduled. Meaningful mealtimes are special. Special, not in the quality of the food, it could be, but in elevating the time. In other words, here’s how you elevate the time together, you say we’re turning the television off. We are going to put our phones away. And we’re going to sit around where we can see one another’s eyeballs. Maybe making a mealtime special would be that we have some conversation points that works. You know, for us, it was just high low, which is kind of an old-school idea of what’s the best thing that happened today and what was the worst thing that happened today. And that seemed to work for us. Sometimes it would be, Hey, what’s this one verse, let’s just read a verse and let’s talk about what this verse means and how it’s impacted or applied to your life lately. And that’s it. Just make it special. And then the third element, meaningful mealtimes are spiritual. And that means we’re going to invite the Lord to the table. Yes, a lot of people already pray at mealtimes, which is kind of a built-in win. But it’s an opportunity to ask, you know, how’s your heart, how’s your soul? Go around the table and talk about some things. It doesn’t have to be weeping material every time you get together. But it does have an elevated sense that God is with us. He has provided this meal. And let’s talk about what’s happening. So just saying that it’s amazing how just saying we want this to be a spiritual meal, we’ll raise the bar and what happens? It doesn’t have to be anything special. Doesn’t have to be a devotion. But meaningful mealtimes are scheduled, special, and spiritual. That’s it.
That’s awesome. I love how you break that down. Very easy to digest. As pastors and ministry leaders are watching along, listening to this, and thinking, okay, yeah, that’s doable. Five meals and it doesn’t always have to be dinner. We can do some breakfast together, lunches together on the weekends, or whatever that might be. Making it special, which is being intentional with that time together. And then spiritual, inviting God into that. That all sounds very doable, right? So tell me a little bit, Ryan, as you practiced this yourself, but then as you invited your church into this, and kind of put this out there said, Hey, this can be something that can dramatically impact everyone’s families, right? What were some of the positives that you saw coming out of this for yourselves and for other families that were engaging?
We found that there were secondary conversations that people just hadn’t thought about before that were sort of spin-offs that they should have been talking about anyway. So what do I do if my kid says something shocking at the table? For example, when you finally put the phones down and you talk about some things, sometimes you hear some things you didn’t expect to hear. You’re watching what? You heard what? You think that about this? And so we operate on the principle which sort of flowed out of this time of Okay, wait, how are we supposed to talk about the hard things? In our student ministry, we talk a lot about the 10-Second Rule. And the 10-Second Rule states this simply. What you do, your reaction, in the first 10 seconds that your kid says something shocking, will instruct them as to whether they can trust you with shocking things. And so just Mom and Dad, open up the discussion. But when they say it, you’ve got to let them know that you’re not going to just apologize for things that you don’t believe. But what you’re saying is, they have the freedom to share those so you can have a real conversation. So there’s a difference in saying, What did you just say? And saying, Man, that’s really interesting and I’m so honored that you trust me with it. Well, let’s unpack, what you think about and why do you think that. Or let’s look at what scripture has to say about that. Or why do you think that might be a bad idea? So that was something interesting that happened, it’s just helping them see how to do that. And then also giving people basic talking points in order to get started, because it’s amazing how few people now we’re in the second generation of a lot of media-driven households who just haven’t really experienced dinner around the table with people they love. They just have had fast food for 40 years. And so we had to redefine some of those things. Those are some of the big wins we’ve seen. Another kind of side note that I think has been a real blessing for our family and I think would be for a lot of pastors. If you’re like me, if I’m not careful I could just be around Christians all day long. I mean, I’ve got to counsel people and I get ready for my message. And I’m meeting with staff and all this. And I look up and like, well, I’m challenging my people to share the love of Christ and I just hung out with a bunch of Christians. And so we found that mealtime can be a great opportunity for outreach as well. And that’s been very true in our own household. So, for example, we’ve just gotten to know our neighbors and invited them to a meal. There’s a big difference between saying, Hey, can we sit down and share our worldview with you and saying, hey, let’s sit down and have a meal and hear your story. And so we happen to live in an area in West Houston and Katy, which is the most ethnically diverse community in America. Meaning that because of the oil industry people come from all around the world. I’m more likely to live next door to somebody of a different culture than in any other place in the country. So my next-door neighbors on the right side are Hindus from India. Their neighbors are atheists from England, and their neighbors are agnostics from China, as far as we know, their neighbors are Catholics from Louisiana, which is also sort of a foreign country, isn’t that true? And so we’ve gotten to know one another. And something happened that was really cool. Two weeks ago, Jason, we got together at a restaurant with our neighbors. It’s about the fourth time we’ve connected over a meal. And what was neat about it was that are Hindu neighbors orchestrated the meal, they said, Hey, let’s meet at the restaurant. Let’s follow up and do this again. And we heard a little more of their story. But the walls have come down in a way that just wouldn’t have happened without a meal in front of us, right? So just inviting people to your table is a real easy win when it comes to living out the Great Commission, I think, especially for pastors.
Yeah, that’s good. I love, Ryan, how there are these offshoots that are coming out of this mealtime, gathering around the table. They’re things within our families, they are things that we can grow under, and they’re things within Kingdom work. And it all kind of goes back to this idea of being thoughtful with that time, but not necessarily trying to orchestrate everything that takes place, right? Because there’s a difference and people can sense that. It goes back to kind of that authenticity conversation. If you sit down at a meal all of a sudden, Hey, kids, we’re gonna start doing mealtime and sit down and you dig into pizza together and have this whole thing planned and they’re like, wait a second.
Then you get out the script. Okay, now next we’re gonna talk about this. It does not work.
Right, exactly. And that wouldn’t work if like in the outreach piece, too, you’re inviting your neighbors over. It’s like hey, we got him in the house. Now let’s get him. So I love that kind of just natural outflow of mealtime. So there’s obviously something we talked about it. Referenced it at least. Within scripture about gathering together and breaking bread together, that mealtime. Talk to us a little bit, Ryan, just a little bit more about kind of the beauty of a meal. Why is a meal kind of different from so many other things that we do as humans, right?
It’s not to over-spiritualize this, but I’m telling you, Jason, when you take a dive into the Scripture just related to food, it’s pretty incredible the theology of food, if you will. I mean, first of all, food in ancient times was much more connected with our lives, we didn’t survive without it. That’s still true. But we don’t really think of it that way. When we go to Wendy’s or whatever, we’re just tickling our taste buds. But that was really true. And there was an identity piece, like what you took in literally becomes you. And isn’t that the heart of the Passover meal? And then what we celebrate and observe with communion, the Lord’s Supper, we’re identifying with Christ, through the partaking of foods. It’s very significant. When you look at the Old Testament, and the covenant process that God put in place for his people, a part of the Covenant process was, of course, the blood covenant and the cutting of animals and look at all this, but it was also food. A meal was a way of sharing a covenant. And so even when you look at marriages, that’s something that extends even to today. Generally, a marriage or a wedding involves a feast of some kind, you’re gonna celebrate and you’re going to connect together. You’re going to join two families together through the celebration of a meal. Then you get to Christ’s ministry, and just in the Gospel of Luke, look sometime at all the different meals that he shared. He was constantly around the table in the Gospels. And he was connecting in this way that, you know, here I am telling you that I made this great discovery of how I could use meals to connect with my neighbors, Jason, as though I split the atom or something. Jesus was doing this constantly in his ministry, he’d find his enemies, he’d find the people that everybody else despised and he’d say, Okay, let’s sit down and have a meal. And all of a sudden the walls would come down. And so we see that. We see the wedding supper of the lamb in Revelation, so we celebrate around a meal at that time, it’s significant. We look all through Scripture, we see these opportunities. When you look at Psalm 128 or you look at Deuteronomy 6, some of the key family passages in the Scripture, what you always see is this relationship with the table. So this has always been. Surely they did something a little bit different in that way. But there’s something about that. And then there’s also a sense in the scriptures of how we relate to God and how it relates to our taste buds. I just preached yesterday from 1 Peter 2 where Peter says, taste and see that the Lord is good. We see that. There’s a tradition in ancient Israel that still carries over some today. When they’re teaching their children the Hebrew alphabet, it’s said that they will put honey on the letters and have them actually taste the letters because they want them to know that it is truly tasteful. It’s a tasty thing to know and read the Word of God. So all these things tie together. We’re deeply ingrained in what we take into our bodies. And I think most people have some connection, like a warm connection, with good pleasant meals sometime in their lives, right?
Yeah. Essentially, you think back to growing up, and some of those great memories. It’s maybe at your grandparent’s home and a special meal or something that your grandma bakes, cooks, or whatever, gathering around. So there’s so much of that in our lives and to kind of tap into that just natural reality. And then to see how in Scripture, biblically, meals were so important. It just makes perfect sense. Ryan, so you’ve created some resources. Let’s talk about some of these resources because I love this. I’ve had the opportunity to see some of those. But you have written a new book that’s being released now called Restore the Table. Within that book, a fantastic book, It’s very practical, including some recipes, right? So actual recipes tossed in there.
Jason, I felt a little bit like a hypocrite with the recipes because I don’t cook, but that’s a part of it, right? And we just said, okay, they’re not complicated recipes. And it’s not a cookbook. But, I mean, we’re gonna talk about my mom’s favorite sloppy joes that I loved. I mean how can you not put it in there? Or cinnamon rolls she made or whatever. Anyway, I just want you to know I’m not a chef. It’s not like Chef Ryan or anything.
That’s funny. Yeah. Excellent. So there’s lots of great insights in there and very, very practical things. I mean, you get very, very practical about how we can engage in meaningful just doing life together around the dinner table. You take it from family throughout, tell stories of people traveling across the country, your missions Pastor I think it was, traveled across Bangladesh, right? And sat down and had a meal. Throughout that entire time just sitting down and having meals with people. Beautiful stuff. So that’s the book so everyone can check that out. But you have created some additional resources, kind of specifically for pastors and ministry leaders who want to do maybe something similar to what you’ve done there at your church. So talk to us a little bit about some of those resources, if you could.
Absolutely. So, from a broader perspective, besides the book, we have a website called empoweredhomes.org, and that just has a ton of leader resources, over 1000. Everything’s free on that website. And it’s for ministry leaders who want to impact the homes that they serve, or their own homes, starting with their own homes. And then restorethetable.com is put in place just so that pastors can take this and use it, and others can use it. But also, there’s a number of pastors in my own area and some that we’ve talked to that are going to join us in a restore the table challenge later this year, where we’re going to challenge our people to take 40 days to do three things. Number one, have five meaningful mealtimes with the ones they love, you’ve already heard that, right? During those 40 days, we’re also going to raise the bar this time and challenge our people to have three meaningful meal times with someone outside their normal circle. So that guy at the office that you’re not from the same faith, background, or culture, why not invite them to a meal, hear their story, and get to know him? And then third, we’re going to culminate that 40 days with a community table. And I should say, plural. So we’re going to challenge our people and lots of other pastors in our area are going to do the same. To have a table akin to what I’ve done several times now in my cul de sac, it could be in the apartment clubhouse, or on the lawn where you live, or whatever, and say, Hey, let’s come together. Let’s have a potluck dinner. And let’s share our stories. And it’s really great if you have people from different backgrounds because they can bring food from wherever they’re from. But it’s worked really well for us. And these are easy wins. And our desire is to give people the tools so that it isn’t just a campaign. But it’s something people look around at the end and say, we should have been doing this all along. And we’re going to keep going.
That’s awesome, Ryan. I love that. And for those of you who are watching and listening along, we will have links to those resources in the toolkit for this episode. You can find that PastorServe.org/network. So you’ll be able to download that toolkit, you’ll get all the links for those resources, including the book, and all that fun stuff. As we’re winding down, brother, Ryan, I would love to give you some time just to share some words of encouragement to brothers and sisters who are serving on the front lines of ministry. What words would you leave with them?
Absolutely. I’ll tell you, I’m so glad you put it that way, Jason, because I’ve been invested in family ministry now for 30 years. And probably the first 15 of those I spent most of my time giving practical tools to people to say if you’ll just do this, this, and this, you can grow a more healthy family. And honestly, what changed for me was probably most when we went through the crisis with our youngest daughter who has disabilities. And I recognized, man, if we don’t deal with the crisis, all these other how-tos are really hard to come by. And the reality is what you said so perceptively earlier. Pastors, a lot of times, don’t have anywhere to go. We’re supposed to pretend like we have it all together. And if you don’t address the pain in your own home, if you don’t find an outlet, it’s really tough to move on from whatever the challenge is. So my challenge to pastors specifically as it relates to the family, is that alone is dangerous. You need to find a group of people that you can pour into and who know you, that you know them, but they know you. They know when you’re you know, their baloney meter goes up when you’re just telling them all this stuff you’re supposed to say. They really know you and they’re praying for you. They know your family. And that’s a breakthrough thing for pastors that I think, unfortunately, we try to go it alone. And then it just becomes, not on purpose, but our family life can become this sort of model family, as though we’re a showroom at a furniture store and everyone is just supposed to watch. That’s not how it works. We have to deal with our pain and we have to do it with other people. And so you have to let the guard down in order to have people in your life to do that. That’s the most important insight I could give is deal with the hurts. Even when we talk about meals, Jason. The reality is that we talked about some of the great memories we have. A lot of people have some real baggage, some hurts from the past when they think about family or food, or they regret what didn’t happen, the non-events of their lives. And you have to go back and deal with that pain and grieve that pain. But don’t cease doing family ministry or ministering to your own family because you haven’t dealt with the pain. That’s the biggest thing I’d say that I’ve learned.
That is good, brother. Such a good word, Ryan. Man, thank you so much for joining us on the show and for sharing with us. I love your heart, brother. I love your heart for families and your heart for pastor and ministry leaders’ families, it’s so evident. Thank you for all that you’ve put out into the world, all that God’s poured into you and you’ve generously shared with us. So we really are excited about just this opportunity we had to meet together to hear from your heart. And I really want to encourage those who are watching and listening along to check out Ryan’s resources, great stuff. I think it’ll be a blessing to you,
Jason, what an honor. Man, thank you so much for having me.
Awesome, brother. God bless you.
Now, before you go, I want to remind you of an incredible free resource that our team puts together every single week to help you and your team dig more deeply and maximize the conversation that we just had. This is the weekly toolkit that we provide. And we understand that it’s one thing to listen or watch an episode, but it’s something entirely different to actually take what you’ve heard, what you’ve watched, what you’ve seen, and apply it to your life and to your ministry. You see, FrontStage BackStage is more than just a podcast or YouTube show about ministry leadership, we are a complete resource to help train you and your entire ministry team as you seek to grow and develop in life in ministry. Every single week, we provide a weekly toolkit which has all types of tools in it to help you do just that. Now you can find this at PastorServe.org/network. That’s PastorServe.org/network. And there you will find all of our shows, all of our episodes and all of our weekly toolkits. Now inside the toolkit are several tools including video links and audio links for you to share with your team. There are resource links to different resources and tools that were mentioned in the conversation, and several other tools, but the greatest thing is the ministry leaders growth guide. Our team pulls key insights and concepts from every conversation with our amazing guests. And then we also create engaging questions for you and your team to consider and process, providing space for you to reflect on how that episode’s topic relates to your unique context, at your local church, in your ministry and in your life. Now you can use these questions in your regular staff meetings to guide your conversation as you invest in the growth of your ministry leaders. You can find the weekly toolkit at PastorServe.org/network We encourage you to check out that free resource. Until next time, I’m Jason Daye encouraging you to love well, live well, and lead well. God bless.
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