A spiritually vibrant home is active in God’s Word. That can be easier said than done. Here are 6 tips for family devotions in your home.
- Keep it simple. Kids are kids. Less developed cognitive processes. Shorter attention span. Keep it simple. Do that by focusing on one truth, one teaching, one characteristic of God, one word in a Bible verse, one person in the Bible. Adults naturally tend to synthesize and stack ideas, and this loses kids (and sometimes adults). An example of keeping it simple would be a devotion on John 3:16 that asks, “Who does God love?” Answer: everybody (“the world”). Show a globe. Google pictures of different skin colors. End of devotion. Get to the other parts of the verse later.
- Make it flexible and fun. The Bible isn’t boring. Don’t present it as boring. It’s an exciting story! Use a variety of devotion books, videos, songs, and even Google is great. If you let your kids use phones or screens for other things, then let them use it for a devotion too (if not, then adjust appropriately). Act out Bible stories as a family. Utilize the CrossKidz Message Notes activity pages on our website, updated weekly. Ask your kids, “Is our family devotion ever boring?” If they say yes, ask, “What would make it more fun?” Listen. Adjust. Engage.
- Be consistent. Have you discovered how enriching it is during COVID to eat together so often as a family? This consistency builds stronger bonds. Why not piggy back on the consistency of a routine like meal time or bed time? Make it a regular habit, with freedom for an exceptional “miss” now and then (just like once in a while you flop into bed without brushing your teeth, it’s okay once in a while). Establish traditions like whoever participates most in family devotion is excused from doing the dishes, or when dad says, “And all God’s people said,” the rest of the family says, “Amen.”
- Be a leader. Share the load. Your family will be more inspired by your commitment to family devotions than by your deep, wise biblical insights. Be a leader and proactively plan and produce family devotions. Make it a priority. Then, delegate some responsibility to others. As your kids mature, expect them to take a bigger role using their gifts to present parts of the devotion. Ask them to read, to research Google, to memorize and recite a Bible verse, to apply a life situation, to draw, to write a poem or sing a song.
- Don’t limit spiritual leadership to family devotion time. Invest in the souls of your kids by asking faith-based questions about their day. “What are three things you’re thankful for today?” “Who are you praying for tonight?” “What do you think God is up to in our family?” Bring God’s truth into real life. Stimulate discussion about the family devotion topics you recently covered. Apply God’s promises to your child bringing up some problem. Volunteer together. Involve the kids in charity work. Teach them how to divide up their allowance so that they’re 1) spending, 2) saving, and 3) giving to church. Maybe not in that order?
- Church is partner, not primary. We’re here to help. And pastors are incredible resources. But as one Spanish proverb says, “An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy.” Let me tell you about one recent study of young adults drifting away from the church and the faith, even though they were active in church youth group as kids. It found a trend: as kids there was an active church youth ministry, but not active home spiritual leadership. I hope every church has a strong family and youth ministry. But it’s not a replacement for the active, spiritual leadership of parents—particularly dad. Work together. Church and home. Practice family spiritual practices and church routines and traditions. Surround kids with Jesus and his teachings and it will created a balanced foundation.
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you love families and were part of a family on this earth. Your parents instructed you in the Scriptures and took you to church—even though you are God! Bless parents and families today, to gather around the Bible regularly, to learn together, to love each other, to live for you in faith. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Let’s get practical here. If you still have kids at home, spend time with the 6 tips above. If you have grandkids or nephews or nieces, share this with their parents and ask what they think.
- Which one are you best at doing right now, or could best help you get started? Focus on that one for a week. Work your strength.
- After a week, which tip is second best for you? Again, implement it over a week. Work your strengths. We’ll get to weaknesses later, but those will take longer.
- After a week or as long as it takes to be feeling good about two tips, add a third, and so on.