If you are not already in the habit of regularly devoting time to some form of family worship/devotions, the thought of trying to establish something new in your household rhythms can be overwhelming to the point where you don’t even try anything. Whether you are married without kids, married with kids, or a single parent with kids, family worship and devotions can be done effectively many ways. What I am sharing with you is simply what my wife and I have done and tried in our own household, and not without some trial and error of course! The bottom line is this: How are you, as a Christian-parent, establishing the Word of God as a priority in your household?
Here are just a few tips to help you start or enhance your family worship and devotions at home:
1. Buying Family Bibles that are all the same word-for-word translation (KJV, NKJV, NASB, ESV)
Bibles can be expensive, and Bibles can be cheap. Our children’s ages are currently 9, 7, 6, and 3. The older three can read (at various levels), and they enjoy bedtime readings as a family. After struggling through times of reading from the Bible that was in my hands and having my kids either sit and listen or try to look over my shoulder and follow along, we finally ordered enough paperback Bibles for the whole family (each Bible only cost us $2 each on Amazon) to use for the purpose of everyone being able to follow along together. This has greatly improved the kid’s ability to participate in the readings, and has also increased their desire to want to take turns reading aloud!
If all your kids are older, or if it is you and your spouse, then it might also be beneficial for people to be reading from various reliable translations for the purpose of being aware how the original languages (Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic) might be translated into English. This often is a good motivator for a deeper study into the English translations of the Bible.
2. Charles Spurgeon Morning and Evening Devotional
This devotional has been such an easy way for our family to hear the Gospel preached from various Bible passages. It has readings for every morning and evening for an entire year, and offers an exposition of a single Bible verse, where Spurgeon explains and teaches on that verse within its greater context of where it is located in the Bible.
It may require a little explaining to the children, but it is a great launching point for Gospel conversations around the table and practical applications of the Christian faith.
3. Kid’s Devotionals
I am generally very weary of devotionals that target younger audiences. They very rarely preach the Gospel, and often over-emphasize a behavioral-focused relationship with God instead of one based on faith in Christ and Christ crucified. However, kid’s devotionals can be a great way to get children introduced to a lot of Bible passages because they are often linked together with engaging illustrations, stories, fun facts, and activities.
I strongly encourage parents to have Bibles handy when reading through kid’s devotional books. There have been many times when I have had to inform the kids of the sad reality of how many of their devotions use the Scriptures out of context or use some obscure Bible translation that is nowhere close to any word-for-word translation, thus giving a misleading understanding of the passage.
I am not completely opposed to kid’s devotionals, but I can see the value in them as a brief introductory tool to getting kids familiar with the Bible. Parents, if you are reading the Word in your own personal time on a regular basis as well as participating in your local church’s teachings and studies, chances are that you will be able to provide a better “kid’s devotional” for your own children who you know better than anyone else and are aware of their present needs and concerns.
Catechisms are a terrific way to learn Biblical answers to the most foundational questions of the Christian faith. There are several reliable catechisms to choose from. One of my favorites is the Westminister Larger Catechism (1648), which is time tested and historically proven. Another one that our family has used is the New City Catechism. This is the shortest of catechisms (52 questions) that I am aware of but does a good job of covering the major topics.
Charles Spurgeon had this to say about catechisms:
“I am persuaded that the use of a good catechism in all our families will be a great safeguard against the increasing errors of the times. Those who use it in their families or classes must labor to explain the sense; but the words should be carefully learned by heart, for they will be understood better as years pass.”
Catechisms are another resource that can easily be read and discussed at family mealtimes or devotional times in the morning or at bedtimes. They are formed in a way where the hearers are supposed to memorize the answers to be able to recite (or echo = catechism) them after the question is asked. Just as Spurgeon said, children will likely not fully understand what they are reciting or memorizing, but it is the parent’s job to help them grow in their understanding of them.
5. Watching Christian movies/tv shows together
Our children have enjoyed a wide range of Christian movies and television. Some are very poor theologically, some are very rich theologically, some are merely retelling of well-known Bible stories without any teaching of the text, and sometimes our children watch church services that are online from other churches and preachers we trust and enjoy.
Our oldest son, Elijah, was hooked on Greg Laurie from a young age (4 years old), and after watching one of his sermons when he was 6 years old, he sent an email to Greg Laurie’s ministry because he wanted to receive one of their free Bibles. Elijah still has the letter he got in the mail that was “from” Pastor Greg. Christian media, like kid’s devotionals, require a lot of discernment by its users. We have exposed our children to a variety of Christian media. Some of them have required us to inform our children of poor usages of the Bible and its teachings, and others we have had to help our children understand their meaning. Nonetheless, Parents have a wide variety of wonderful resources out there at their disposal to use for family worship and devotions. Here are just a few suggestions:
- Youtube: Bible Project, Beginner’s Bible, Group VBS, Lifeway VBS, Lifeway Kids, Samaritan’s Purse, Voice of the Martyrs
- Rightnow Media
- The Chosen tv show
Whatever you choose to do with your household to prioritize your faith at home, do not become legalistic or prideful in anything that you do or try. It can be very easy to want to hold to a very rigid schedule that can be burdensome or even impossible at times. Also, it can be just as easy to become prideful when new and healthy habits are established in the home and the temptation comes to want to compare what your household is doing to what others are not doing. Remember to be an encouragement to others, not a standard.
Also, remember that family devotions do not save your children or household, only God’s power through the Gospel can soften a person’s heart to be made new by Him. Do not use family devotions and worship to become a way of saving your household. Rather, let them be a way for your household to see just how much you love this God who saved you from your sins, and how much you want them to love Him the same way.
I hope this helps you fulfill Deuteronomy 6, Ephesians 6:1-4, Ephesians 5:25-26, and 1 Timothy 3:4-5.
May God’s grace, mercy, and peace be upon you in Christ Jesus,