While my wife takes on the bulk of the responsibility when it comes to educating our kids, one role that can’t be abdicated by me as a Dad is in the area of Family Devotion. While having a family devotion is not the only way we are to Disciple our kids in Christ, it is one of the main places we can grow our family together.
This does not have to be complicated. It’s best for it to be simple and consistent than to be complex and occasional. You don’t have to have smoke, lights, and musical talent. Neither do you have to have a PHD in hermeneutics.
This is not something I had ever seen modeled before I had a family of my own. I had only read about in a few books (Like Faith Driven Family). I’ve been around Christian families my entire life, but apparently not at the time they were having a devotion. Unfortunately many assume this is what “church” is for. About six years ago, when my kids were between two and eight I started “trying” to have family devotions. The kids would have a hard time paying attention, I would lose my spot reading, and the time seemed more like a wrestling match than a devotion time. The problem was not with the kids, but with my expectations. I was expecting too much. All I had ever seen was the “Church” example. So instead of trying to make it a chore, we tried to make it fun. So here three quick pointers to get you going
Set a time. Nothing happens unless you plan it. For us it’s the first thing in the morning, for you it maybe at night. Develop a family routine so that after several weeks there is an expectation that we are going to do a family devotion. It usually takes us around 10 to 15 minutes for us to do this. Sometimes its longer (because we are enjoying it) and sometimes its 5 minutes in the car on the go (but these are exceptions).
Everyone should be a part. This is not just Dad’s time with the kids. Have mom, dad, dogs and all the babies sitting under the Bible for a few minutes can do wonders for your family. I know this could be more difficult with teenagers, but if you start them young, they won’t know any different.
Keep it simple. We typical Read (the Bible or Devotion), pray and occasionally sing.
When my kids were younger we used the “One Year Devotions for Kids“. (You can download these as Kindle Books and keep them on your phone). These devotions are built around story situations where the kids may learn a virtue or a value. To me it’s important to always to connect these to Jesus and make sure he is the hero.
More recently we use Training Hearts Teaching Minds by Starr Meade (Not on Kindle). It uses the catechisms to teach kids how to respond to spiritual questions. It is broken down into a Monday through Saturday readings that are very short. By teaching the Kids these catechisms, you will give them something to carry with them. We should always encourage participation by asking kids what they think. Never shut them off even when they are wrong. Let them finish their though and gently point out the truth. If you are always correcting their efforts to learn they may become discouraged and not participate in the future (Ephesians 6:4).
Often we will sing. I wish I could play an instrument. But thanks to YouTube we can waste our life, or find worship songs and hymns with lyrics and music all together. We will let one child pick a song and we will watch and sing along.
Here are a few of our favorites (click the links)
Finally, I will also often ask if the kids if anyone would like to volunteer to pray for us as a family. Sometimes I pray or mom prays. Other times we ask for prayer request before praying. If one of our kids shares something, we may ask another one of our kids to pray for that request. We want to them pray for each other not just themselves.
I really hope this helps. You will NEVER regret any time spent leading your family this way. It is very rewarding in and of itself.
If you have found other resources of things that work for your family, feel free to comment and share for others.