'Homegrown' focuses on family, fruit of the Spirit

NASHVILLE (BP) -- As parents of two young kids, Josh and Christi Straub know how difficult it can be to wrangle a family together to learn about God's Word.

"It can feel like a pipe dream some days," according to the Straubs. "Busyness creeps in. Tempers flare. Just getting the kids in bed sometimes feels like a massive parenting win."

But the Straubs, who both serve as marriage and family coaches, believe busyness doesn't have to be a barrier for parents to raise up children in the way they should go. To help parents with this calling, the Straubs have released a new study with LifeWay Christian Resources called "Homegrown: Cultivating Kids In the Fruit of the Spirit."

"Homegrown" is structured after Moses' key times of the day listed in Deuteronomy 6 -- a passage that implores parents to talk to their kids about God's Word when they sit in their house, walk along the road, lie down and get up.

Putting a modern spin on these moments of the day, the Straubs structure each session of the study around morning prayers, dinnertime stories, bedtime questions and activities that can be completed in the car or anywhere.

"We designed 'Homegrown' so families can learn about the fruit of the Spirit but also have opportunities to apply it in their homes," Josh said. "It's not like you're sitting down to have a Bible study with your kids. You're implementing discipleship into the times of the day when you're already with them."

Josh said he and Christi wanted to write about the fruit of the Spirit because it's a topic that applies to every member of the family and because it's a subject kids and adults never outgrow.

"I see this so often and am guilty of it myself: knowing a certain principle about the Bible, but not living it out," he said. "I may be familiar with a biblical truth in my head, but I'm not translating it to my heart. Exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit is how we know we're truly growing in Christ."

Christi says her favorite part of "Homegrown" is how the study allows families to grow together.

"So often, there are things we do as adults in our church, small group or personal journey with Christ that are difficult to translate to our kids," she said. "They may see mom or dad reading their Bible -- which is great -- but they don't know what we're learning or wrestling with."

"Studying the fruit of the Spirit together allows our kids to see our humanness -- to see that we too struggle with self-control, lack of patience and so on," she noted. "There's great value in the family growing together."

"Homegrown" begins with a session that sets a foundation for spiritual growth. By showing how the fruit of the Spirit uniquely flows from a relationship with Christ, the Straubs differentiate biblical sanctification from common moralism one might find on kids' television shows.

The study also addresses the interconnectedness of the fruit of the Spirit, pointing out that in Galatians 5, the fruit of the Spirit is singular while the list that follows is plural predicate.

"It's the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruits of the Spirit," Josh said. "The fruit of the Spirit is to be developing all these qualities at the same time."

Families who enjoy the throughout-the-day teaching format of "Homegrown" will find ongoing resources through 22:6 Parenting, an online community of parents growing together to encourage spiritual development in their kids.

"[The design of] 'Homegrown' is exactly what we do with 22:6 Parenting, which is inspired by Proverbs 22:6, 'raise up a child in the way he should go,'" said Josh. "We help families around the world focus on spiritual mile-markers along that way."

The Straubs also host "In This Together," a weekly podcast for couples and parents. Earlier this year, they released their first children's book, "What Am I Feeling?," with B&H Publishing, to help children understand and verbalize their God-given emotions in a biblically grounded way.

"'Homegrown' and 'What Am I Feeling?' can go hand in hand," Josh said. "When kids can label their emotions, it helps them learn what to do with those emotions in a healthy way. It gives parents a resource to get into the inner workings of their child."

More information about "Homegrown" and other parenting resources by the Straubs can be found on LifeWay.com/Homegrown and 226Parenting.com.

Aaron Wilson is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.
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