Husband and wife team Soren and Ever Johnson have a brilliant plan for making your home a place of lasting happiness.
As Americans are spending more time in their homes than ever before, the need to build a healthy and happy family culture feels pressing. The Christian family is called to be a domestic church, a model of Trinitarian love, but how exactly do we put this into practice?
Enter a free livestream workshop that might be the answer to everything you’re looking for as a spouse, parent, Christian, and friend. Soren and Ever Johnson are Executive Directors of Trinity House Community, a nonprofit Catholic ministry with a mission “to inspire parents to live together with God, making their homes a little taste of heaven to share with others for the renewal of faith and culture.” They have organized a series of online workshops called “Heaven in your Home: How to Turn a Crisis into a Time of Grace for Your Family and the World.”
In 2014, Soren and Ever opened Trinity House Café in Leesburg, Virginia, as a nonprofit outreach to the community. The coffee shop has blossomed into a joyful community, with a robust program calendar and a place that exudes peace from the moment you walk in the door. Now the Johnsons are exporting the Trinity House model to other families, who can adapt its principles to their own unique circumstances.
“A Christian home can promote Christian culture, community, art, music,” Soren said in an interview. “We can share our lives with neighbors and strangers, and convert hearts without ever getting into arguments or discussions, but with a really compelling lifestyle.”
Building this kind of life-giving home is the work of a lifetime, but there are tips and tricks to jump-start the process. Soren and Ever have years of experience through their ministries and through raising their own five children. Ever explained what makes a Trinity House home distinctive:
A Trinity House is a place where the family lives in interpersonal communion. In theology, the Trinity is described as a family. In some ways this model goes against the current culture’s emphasis on the self, and putting your own things and activities first, which actually leads to isolation and loneliness and destroys heaven in the home. Instead, a Trinity House is based on people thinking about each other and serving each other, basing your activities on other people’s needs rather than only your own interests. We go into the ways that the persons of God live together and how this creates bonding and happiness.
Now more than ever, we can benefit from being intentional about our relationships and family culture. Soren referred to these words from Pope Francis’s “Urbi et Orbi” blessing on March 27: This is “a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others.”
“This is a time to go deep in our relationships,” Soren said. “We need to be much more thoughtful about our family life,” Ever added.
In the endless hubbub of video calls, distance learning, work deadlines, and dirty dishes, it might sound unrealistic to speak of Heaven in the home. How can Heaven stand a chance in the midst of the cacophony that is sheltering in place with rambunctious children? But this goal of a heavenly, love-filled home is real and achievable, even for those of us who make mistakes every single day (and that’s all of us!).
“Heaven in your home, a taste of it, is possible,” Ever said. “We don’t have to just wait for heaven. We can actually try to model it, and get some of the joy, and expose people who have never even heard the Gospel to a vision of Heaven on Earth.”
Perfection is not the goal, the Johnsons emphasized, but faithful effort. If we keep trying, our work will bear fruit.
“We’ll never be perfect at it, but if you go about it in a considered way, you can build something much better than if you just get pushed along by the stream of the world,” Ever said. “We try to share with families that they bear the image of God. God is a communion of persons, so families are an icon of the Trinity. We try to root the family in that vision and then draw out its practical implications.”
In their workshops, the Johnsons present the five levels of a Trinity House:
- Level 1: Faith Life: Rooting Your Family in God’s Life
- Level 2: Person & Relationships: Tending Your Marriage and the Development of Each Unique Family Member and their Gifts
- Level 3: Household Economy: Caring for Each Other through Shared Work
- Level 4: Family Culture: Enjoying Life & Celebrating Traditions
- Level 5: Hospitality & Service: Sharing a Faith-filled Life with Others
Intentional commitment to building a Trinitarian home may be more work at times than drifting along the current of the culture. Why put in the effort? Most of all, because this service-oriented model imitates the love of God, and as the Catechism tells us, the family is the principal cell or building block of human society.
Strong families and strong marriages have an impact on the world around them that cannot be overestimated. Pope John Paul II once said, “The future of humanity passes by way of the family.” The Catechism calls holy families “islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world,” and urges us to bear in mind that “believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith“ (1655-6).
Committing ourselves to the work of building holy, joyful, life-giving homes is the work of every lay Christian. It can be hard work at times, but it’s some of the most important and worthwhile work we’ll ever do, and the harvest we reap will have eternal resonance. Soren and Ever Johnson’s workshop is a much-needed blueprint for all Christian families seeking to do God’s will and bring a taste of His grace and mercy into their own homes.
You can join their next free workshop on Thursday, May 20 from 8:00-9:30 p.m. EDT. Register and get more information here.
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