Steal My 2022 Family Summit Material (+Bonus Materials)
A Guide on How to Do the Ultimate Family Alignment Activity
A lot of you guys heard that Esther and I have been doing a thing called a Family Summit.
The Family summit is a full-day activity of putting the family on the same spiritual page in terms of what God has been doing and what he intends to do.
And in response, a lot have been asking what we are doing. I sense it’s because, amidst the craziness of life, everyone is longing for 1) a deep connection with their family unit, 2) being in sync with how God has been leading, and 3) God intends to lead us.
I don’t think we have it perfect, but if I can help someone out there design their own, this is my attempt to provide a helpful guide. So… steal my family summit. Make it your own.
Why The Family Summit Works
1. It Allows us to See a High-Level View of Our Lives from God’s Perspective
I define the “summit” as:
The ascension of the mountain to see the gift of time from afar that we may return with faithfulness
For Esther and I, it’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day and not see the grand scope of life. The only way to not get lost is to step back and see life from afar. This is the goal of the family summit.
When we look back, we see patterns, habits, and stories that we don’t see in the day-to-day. When we did it this week, there were so many stories that we hadn’t been paying attention to. It was really soul-refreshing to hear and to share our perspective of what God is doing.
This wider story then informs our day-to-day story. Instead of just being fixated on the next task or thing to do, we have the story of what God is trying to do in the back of our minds.
2. It Deeply Bonds Our Family Together in God’s Story
People long for a deep spiritual connection with their spouse and their family. But they can’t seem to experience it or look longingly at the lives of people who seem to be in it together.
The answer lies in how to form deep culture. For me, culture (whether it is organizational, racial, etc) is defined as a group of people bonded by a common purpose, pain, and story.
The problem with our day-to-day activities is that they do not tap into the deeper stories of our lives and faith. Some of you guys go on dates, do soccer practice, do groceries together. We know that while they help, the deepest connections come from being bonded by the deepest story. And the deepest story is the story of what God is doing! Many people don’t feel connected to their family simply because the story that bonds people together is absent from their conversation. They talk about bills, admin, children’s activities, but not about the story of God woven through all of this.
The family summit is a powerful way of reflecting on the story of God in our families and how we need the story of God to unfold looking forward. I feel deeply bonded with Esther when we do this.
3. It is a Great Opportunity for Fathers to Take Spiritual leadership
Tons of men I talk to who feel the burden of leading their families to ask me, “How do I do it?” What’s often missing are just simple rhythms to lead their families. They know they need to do it but don’t know how to do it.
As I’ve talked with husbands and fathers the family summit is a great way to take leadership in their household. They don’t have to do everything. They just have to set the stage, do the pre-work, and make the space for God to speak to our family. That is leadership. It isn’t knowing all the answers. It is simply to know what questions to ask and point our family to our God, who knows the answers.
I know after talking with my wife that she deeply appreciates me taking leadership in taking the time to plan the summit. Even though my leadership is not perfect, some things are important enough to do imperfectly.
How to do The Family Summit
Here is the schedule. We have kids, so during 12-4 we have a babysitter during that time.
12 Fun Lunch with Husband and Wife
1-4 The Summit
4-6 Dinner with the Whole Family
6-730 Family Worship, Prayer, Awards
Here’s the breakdown of what’s going on:
12p Fun Lunch with Husband and Wife
I want to start the time of casually. Enjoyment is the precursor to work. Before we get “down to business”, I just want a time where Esther and I can just relax. We get to talk about anything. We pick a lunch that is yummy and something both of us enjoy.
This casualness allows us the relational connection to make the summit a fruitful experience. Never underestimate fun.
If you’re following this, pick somewhere fun and enjoyable to eat. Let it relax you for the work ahead.
1p-4p Summit (At a Garden)
1-4p is the meat of our time together. This time we chose to meet at a garden that has various sit/stand places. Last year we did this at a larger cafe with a lot of seating. The key is somewhere where we can plant ourselves for a few hours.
I spend time creating a little presentation just to anchor our time together. This means I pack a backpack with my laptop, pens, and journals for the time. You don’t have to do this, but some things are nice to see visually (E.g. looking back at the year’s events).
Bonus points for husbands leading the activity: Esther loves the effort I put into seeing the summit come together. This, in turn, increases her buy-in for the event!
There are several things we are doing here:
Reflecting on the Last Year
I take the time to look back at our family calendar and try to write down every major event that happened in the year. From vacations, to birthdays, to major accomplishments. It’s pretty cool to see visually the things that happened in the last year.
Then we just ask open questions such as
What were your favorite events in 2022?
What stands out to you about 2022?
Where did you see God?
What relationships did you enjoy forming?
What was your favorite trip?
Giving thanks for each event
Personal Reflection Time (Personal Journals)
The next time is really cool. I ask Esther and me to bring our journals from 2022. And we spend 30-40 minutes just reading it alone together.
The thinking behind this is to catch a larger thread of what God has been doing in our lives that we can’t see. As we spend time reflecting, these are the questions going through our minds:
What happened in our private lives this year?
What patterns did you see?
What struggles did you have this year?
How did God speak/encourage you this year?
How was God shaping or forming you this year?
This was actually a very fun and profound experience. As we were reading alone next to each other, we couldn’t help but start sharing observations that we had. It was really neat just listening to observations we had about our own lives.
It’s a 3 hour time block, which is really long to just sit there. So we break up the time with just walking together. Depending on the weather in your location, you may have to adjust. Thankfully the weather was really nice on the day we did it and we would take a break from where we were and just walk and hold hands and enjoy the day together.
We cannot predict the future, but we have conversations about looking forward. Some questions we ask are:
What’s on the horizon for next year?
What are you excited about?
What are you uncertain about?
We spend time sharing heart, praying, and asking God to help us for various things.
Life Admin Discussions
Here, I leave room to talk through actual life admin discussions relevant to our family. Some things we talk about it:
Upcoming travel plans
Financial Snapshot - Esther has found it really helpful to understand where we are financially. Since I handle most of our family’s assets, this is my opportunity to give a presentation about where we are. Some angles that help us understand where we are include: 1) cashflow 2) networth 3) giving portfolio 4) budget performance 5) retirement 6) investment strategy
Future Projects - In the past, we’ve talked through some house projects that we want to get done this year.
5p Dinner (Takeout with Whole Family)
Even though we usually cook, this is take out. The thinking behind this is that I don’t want to do any work. It is a tad bit more expensive than eating in, but for the purposes of our time, I want to just enjoy my family.
6-8p Family Time
The family time is for people with young kids. It was helpful for us to demarcate age-appropriate activities. There is work that Esther and I can do but not the kids. This is the way I can involve the kids as part of our summit.
The goal of this is just to create a space where we are encountering God’s presence. With young kids, this is going to look messy. We ended doing a few songs the kids knew and ended up singing some Christmas songs :)
Listening to God as a Family (Drawing Activity for Kids)
To involve my kids we just had them draw a picture of what we felt 2023 was going to be about. This requires a bit of encouragement and imagination!
We then take time to ask them to say a prayer for 2023. Something very simple like “God help us this year.”
The kids will spend 5 minutes to draw something they feel God is speaking to them about and then each kid will present it.
Then we do family awards. We want to take some time to honor our kids by drawing attention to the ways that we have seen them grow this year. For e.g. we gave one kid the award of “compassion”, another “leadership”, another “hospitality”.
We try to raise the stakes a bit, by making it a bit more fun. We make a little “stage” but just bringing out a lamp and shining it on the fireplace. We had a marker as a microphone. It was silly and fun. We buy some awards certificates from Amazon and wrote in something. A little goes a long way here. Each kids really really enjoys this time.
Mom and dad will present the award, each say why we gave them an award. And we bless them.
Looking at 2022 Photos Together
Then we finish the night with eating ice cream and looking back at photos together. This is an easy and fun activity where everyone can reminisce on the year. Also is a good use of constructive screen time for parents.
Steal My Materials + Tools to Help Craft Your Own Summit and Save Time
Here are the concrete tools that I use to help craft my family summit. The content before this line is free and you’ll be able to do your own! But this section is special for paid subscribers of the newsletter to help them save precious time in putting their version together.
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