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Hausvater: /HAUS-fah-ter/
noun (German)
1. Housefather.
2. Spiritually responsible head of household, including the housefather as assisted by the housemother.
>> Example: "As the Hausvater should teach it [Christian doctrine] to the entire family ..."
(Martin Luther, Small Catechism, 1529)

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Encouraging Daily Devotions in the Congregation


How can pastors encourage their parishioners to live out the Word of God every day of the week, using the Sunday Divine Service as a foundation? The Hausvater Project invited Pastor David Mumme of Trinity Lutheran Church in Waterville, Minnesota, to explain the resources he uses to promote the prayer life of his congregation.

 

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“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16 ESV).

 

It is essential to our life in Christ that we heed those words of St. Paul both in our life together within a faithful Christian congregation and in our life together within a faithful Christian family and home. We pastors spend a significant amount of time planning and preparing for this in the congregation by choosing hymns and preparing bulletins for Divine Services. But how do we help the members of our congregation let the word of Christ dwell richly in their homes and families? Every pastor encourages his members to read the Scriptures, to pray with and for their families, to sing hymns together, and to learn by heart Bible verses and the texts of Luther’s Small Catechism. But how do we help them to actually do this?

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Faith@HOME


Faith@Home Revealed: An Inside Look at Churchgoing Parents, by Mark Holmen and Brian Stewart (Crosslake, MN: Faith@Home Press, 2018)

 

The decline of Christianity in America has attracted much attention in recent years, and with it has come a plethora of fads, techniques, and gimmicks designed to help churches boost attendance numbers. Much of the “Church Growth Movement” has revolved around ideas and techniques that run contrary to a Biblical, Lutheran understanding of conversion, faith, and Law/Gospel. Such methods typically assume that faith is the product of a one-time emotional “decision for Jesus,” rather than the creation of the Holy Spirit. As such, the Church Growth Movement has long emphasized popular music, dynamic speakers, and inspiring messages over gradual lifelong catechesis revolving around the Means of Grace.

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In the light of such programs, it is refreshing to see an American Evangelical organization that doesn’t teach churches how to manipulate people into deciding to follow Jesus or entertain their children. Faith@Home is an organization designed to strengthen the church not through marketing techniques on Sunday morning, but through living and teaching the Christian faith in the home. Faith@Home helps congregations by assessing their spiritual health on the basis of the strength of the cultivation of the faith at home, as measured by the FaithLife Survey. On the basis of the survey results, Faith@Home gives practical advice on how to strengthen spiritual life at home among couples in the congregation. The book Faith@Home Revealed: An Inside Look At Churchgoing Parents by Mark Holmen and Brian Stewart summarizes survey results from over 1,600 families from twelve different denominations, and notes major cross-denominational trends in American Protestantism.

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Portrait of a Congregation at Prayer


How can pastors encourage their parishioners to live out the Word of God every day of the week, using the Sunday Divine Service as a foundation? The Hausvater Project invited Pastor Rob Lawson of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Escondito, California, to explain the resources he uses to promote the prayer life of his congregation.

 

The concept, format, and title of the resources are taken from the Lutheran Catechesis material of Rev. Peter Bender, Pastor of Peace Lutheran Church and the Concordia Catechetical Academy, Sussex, Wisconsin. Though the prayer sheet follows the outline and includes most of the same parts, the content is obviously edited to fit our congregational situation.

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Consider Sample 1 and Sample 2 of our prayer sheet. A few general observations are in order.

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