Over the last two days I have discussed why family devotions are so hard, and why they are so important. Today I want to offer a few tips to help establish a meaningful and fruitful ritual of family worship in your own home. I am by no means an expert in this and am still growing in this discipline so feel free to contribute your own thoughts in the comments.
- Use an age appropriate Bible. If you think that breaking out your calfskin ESV Study Bible or Greek New Testament will impress your kids you are wrong. If you have toddlers use something like the Jesus Storybook Bible or the Big Picture Story Bible. Both are great for young kids and their simple structure lend themselves to family devotions very well. If you have teens, use a student Bible and even ask them to lead a devotional occasionally.
- Use age appropriate music. You may be into the grandest hymns or choruses but your kids need something a little more their level. Seeds Family Worship has some great material that can be helpful. What we need to remember is that just as God condescended for our benefit by becoming a man in Jesus, so we can condescend for the sake of our children. We serve them in humility as Christ served us.
- Keep it short and simple. If things get too complicated, it won’t last. Remember, you aren’t trying to conduct a full scale church service here. Our current family worship time happens after dinner and lasts no more than 15-20 minutes. This is more than enough time to read the Bible, sing a song, and pray together.
- Pick a regular time. If you’re a morning family and you can get everyone out of bed at reasonable hour for breakfast and family worship before moving on with your day, then great. For my family, the time immediately after dinner works best. Dishes and bath time can wait 15 minutes for the sake of intimate family worship.
- Involve everyone as they are able. This means if you have teenagers, they should be able to take leadership of the devotional every now and then. If you have pre-teens, they should certainly be participating actively in the discussion. It is important for mum and dad to facilitate their children’s involvement at this age. We have a two-year-old and a two-month at the moment, so their participation is limited, but they do see communication between mum and dad, and we do ask our two-year-old questions in the hopes of getting some responses soon.
- Don’t fret if you miss a day. Sometimes things happen that we have to deal with. If you miss a day, pick up where you left off the next day and don’t look back. As this is a new habit that my family is developing we are aiming for every day, but we will be happy if we can make it work 3-4 times a week.
- Always bring it back to Jesus. The danger with family worship and devotional times is that they can become moralistic and religious in the worst possible senses. More than teaching morals, we want our kids to love Jesus and that has to be the goal. By keeping Jesus and the gospel central, we are all reminded of our need for grace, and that we love him because he first loved us. Our joy and obedience will flow only from experiencing the grace, love, and mercy that is found in Christ.
What else has worked for you in your family devotions. Let us know in the comments below.