Jefferson Bethke

Jefferson Bethke burst onto the scene in 2012 with his spoken word YouTube video titled, “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” The four-minute video had 7 million views in its first 48 hours and is now at 34 million. As someone who speaks at conferences all across the country, Bethke is the author of “Jesus > Religion” and “It’s Not What You Think.” He lives in Maui with his wife, Alyssa, and their three children.

How has a Biblical family worldview taken a back seat in Western culture?

It’s been said if you want to change society, start with the family.

“The minute you get married and start having kids, you’re a team,” Bethke said.

Along with Jeremy Pryor and his family, the Bethkes founded Family Teams, an organization that focuses on building up the family unit through a variety of resources, podcasts, an annual conference and Homeroom, which is an online family and marriage mentor program.

“The Pryors had a collision when they were in Israel in realizing how differently they structured their families as teams, not as a collection of individuals that collides with our Western picture,” Bethke added. “In the West, family is subservient to making each individual person go off on their own and succeed. Biblically, God created the family to actually be a team to do more for the Kingdom of God.”

Having a team model leads to sibling harmony, not rivalry.

“When you set up an individual culture in families, then all your siblings are in competition,” he said. “A team culture sees anyone added as a team member making the team stronger, giving more assets and filling in the gap that the team needs. We always say, ‘Hey, your brother gives this family something that we didn’t have before we had him.’ We try to think through what the kids have, what their skills are and talk about it.”

With three children 5 and under, why is it important for you and your wife to have healthy family rhythms?

Regardless of the age of your children, it’s vital for parents to have a God-sized family vision. Bethke said his goal is to create a consistent cadence.

“This idea is that rhythm is like music,” Bethke said. “God seems very exact on a daily, weekly and yearly cadence. The day and night, work and rest. We have what we call ‘anchors’ in our day, week and year. They’re weighted and hold us down. One easy one is dinner at home with the family because we feel that’s an identity shaping practice that’s not just nutrition for our mouth. We tell stories, lean into that and hang together.”

The goal is to shape the home around “shalom,” which means peace.

“It’s this picture of everything going how it should be going and spinning perfectly, like an orchestra or dance,” Bethke added. “When all those parts are working perfectly to create a symphony, that’s shalom.”

Bethke offered two rhythm tips:

1. Don’t become a kid-centered home.

2. Ask yourself, “What does God have for this team?”

What does God practically have for each family team?

While every family team is different, Bethke shared five things families should do to stay healthy.

> Sabbath rest: “Actually have a 24-hour cycle when you’re not doing anything,” Bethke said. “It doesn’t mean a day of vegging out or doing errands. The celebratory spirit of Sabbath is resting and partying really well like a mini-holiday.”

> Family meetings: “Like the way a business does a Monday meeting for goals and corporate structure, families need to be treated like an organization,” Bethke added. “A lot of us hope families happen by accident, but since family is the greatest institution, it’s important to have a team huddle. Otherwise everyone is going different ways.”

> Intentional dates: Go on regular dates with your spouse and one-on-one dates with your kids.

> Church community: “You need to be a part of communities that are bigger than your families, and the church is a family of families,” he said.

> Serving the community: “A lot of Western families don’t go on mission together, but face inward and enjoy one another,” he said. “They don’t use the power of their team to go serve. One of the strongest things you can do for your family identity is make the neighbors a meal, go on a mission trip or help the city in some way.”

Why should having family fun play a role in healthy rhythms?

While this often gets overlooked, fun is a serious facet of the family.

“My philosophy is that I want the home to be the most fun place,” Bethke said. “I want my kids to actually think that when they go out into the world, it’s less fun, entertaining and joy-filled. We don’t want our kids to be enticed by false pleasure.”