One of the most beneficial things any family can do is to have a regular time where everyone in the house comes together to worship Jesus. You’ve probably heard someone talk about the importance of having this family time, but maybe you’re struggling getting things going or maintaining some regularity. Let me give you some encouragement and tips that might help you. I’ll break my tips into three categories: families with young children, families with older children, and adult families (everyone living in the house is an adult). Finally, I’ll end up with four pieces of advice for every family.
Families with Young Children
I’ve got two rules of thumb here: make it special and keep it short and to the point. Make your family devotion time something special for your kids. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, just special. Rebekah, our 3 year old, loves candles. So every night before she goes to bed I let her get the special candle, I light it during our devotion time, and she blows it out when we’re done. It’s simple, but makes it special for Rebekah. It’s also good to make it short and to the point. Younger children probably aren’t going to sit for a half hour Bible study, and that’s ok. Intentionally make your family devotion time short and sweet. In our house we have a devotion routine that has three short parts. We’ll sing a song together (if you don’t play an instrument go a cappella or use YouTube), read a Bible story, and finish up with prayer. You know how long your kids will stay focused, so make the length of your time fit your family. Here are some great resources for younger family devotions.
Children’s Bibles to read from every night
- 1 – 4 year old: The Beginners Bible (short stories that young kids can hold on to)
- 4 – 12ish year old: The Jesus Storybook Bible (stories are longer, the book connects every story to Jesus)
Families with Older Children
If you are a family with older children your kids can pay attention more, and you need to go out of your way to get them to interact more with the passages you’re reading. My two rules of thumb here are make is special and get them talking. If you’ve got older kids you need to make your family devotion time special. The simple things that work with younger children won’t be as effective, but thankfully there are other ways. For older kids the best thing you can do here is to get them involved! Let them read the Bible, let them act it out while you are reading, ask them to come up with one question about the passage. Do what ever you can to give them responsibility in your family time. You’ve also got to work to get your kids talking. It’s not enough to read the story of Noah, Abraham, or Moses. You’ve got to get your kids talking about why those stories matter. The entire Bible is about God’s rescue mission through Jesus! So read through a passage and ask questions like: what does this story teach us about people? about God? about Jesus?* Ask them what their favorite part or verse was…and them ask them why! Your best resource for older kids is the Bible you already own. Before your kids go to bed tonight grab your Bible, open to Mark chapter 1 and start reading. Keep reading every night until you finish Mark (it may take you two weeks or two months, that’s O.K.). When you finish Mark let one of your kids pick the next book to read through.
*if you need help coming with questions to ask your older kids send me an email. There are too many resources to list here, and I like to suggest these resources on a family by family basis.
If everyone in your house is an adult a family devotion may seem a bit out of place. It’s not. You rob yourself of an awesome opportunity if you’re an adult living with adults who are christians and you don’t do regular devotions together. My tips here are go deep and make it personal. Pick up your Bible, start in the gospel of Mark and work your way through the book. It doesn’t matter if you read a chapter a night or a paragraph a night. But don’t just read. Go deep. After you read ask each other questions like: what is God teaching us in this section? what do these verses have to do with Jesus? Talk about what parts jump off the page as well as the verses that don’t make any sense to you. And take the next step and make your study personal. Share with everyone how God challenged, encouraged, or convicted you with his Word. Reading the Bible isn’t like reading any other book, it reads you more than you read it. So when God is working don’t keep it to yourself! Finish your time off with serious and loving prayer for each other.
4 Short Tips for everyone
- If there’s a man of the house he should take the lead. Dad, husband, elder-statesman, whatever your role is men, you need to lovingly take the lead on this one. If your reading this and know that your not the one to take the lead, then humbly encourage the one who should lead to start tonight. A simple, “I would like you to lead us in a family devotion” will do
- Be disciplined in your family devotion. Pick a time that works for your family every day and is easy to remember. After breakfast, before bed, any time that is regular.
- No matter what the ages in your family try to include reading the Bible, singing (or some other form of music), and praying. All three of these are means by which God works in individuals and families.
- Finally, remember that christian growth isn’t an individualistic pursuit. Yes, you are an individual accountable to God, but God has designed it such that we grow in community with other believers. You need your family to grow and they need you.