In the previous article, I suggested mixing things up. This leads right into the question of, “What do I do?” Over the past eighteen years, our family and other parents in our church have done all sorts of things. It depends on the needs and ages of the children.
1. Read a book of the Bible. Sometimes our family would read through a book of the Bible. After reading through a chapter I might ask them a simple question or two like, “What can we learn about God (Jesus, the Holy Spirit)? What can we learn about ourselves?” As the children grew older, we invested in some paperback Bibles that we kept on a shelf by the table so that everyone was looking at the words together.
2. Memorize a verse. A meal time is a great time to memorize a verse together as a family. When we decide to do that I would read the verse aloud several times. Then I would close the Bible and say it out loud. Then it was Mom’s turn. Then the oldest on down to the youngest. As the children have grown older, I have started asking them what is the latest verse they are memorizing.
3. Proverbs chapter of the day. Sometimes we would read the Proverb chapter of the day. “Today is the 15th? Let’s read Proverbs chapter 15. What can we find in here about wise living?”
4. Issue of the day. As our children have grown older we have continued the tradition of family devotions. However, sometimes the discussion of the day’s activities brings out an issue that provides a teaching opportunity. A few simple questions helps set us on the right track, “Wisdom is seeing things from God’s perspective and making proper choices accordingly. What is God’s perspective on that issue? What verses should we go to?” The great benefit here is that we are letting God address the topic from his word and we are modeling the idea that the Bible has the answers to what we are dealing with. It is not just a book to get us into heaven, but also a book to help us live a life pleasing to God.
5. A Christian Testimony. If a Christian guest was joining us, we would regularly ask them to give us their salvation testimony or another spiritual life lesson they had learned. These simple questions showed our respect for our guest, built them into our children’s lives, and provided a chance for them to hear about God’s work today.
6 Sword Drills. If you want to have a crazy time, do a family sword drill. Our family was so competitive that I could not do this too much. A sword drill is when the leader calls out a verse and all the participants race to see who can get to that verse first. Sometimes we would do Bible drills to a memory verse. I would stagger the beginning times to let the little ones start earlier than the older ones. We actually had to stop doing this because it got so rambunctious and competitive! But my children look back on it today with great memories.
7. A Discussion of Personal Devotions. Sometimes we would all read the same thing for personal devotions and talk about it as a family. This is helpful because then the children can ask questions they had during their reading. This can also be tied in with reading a book of the Bible together.
8. A Discussion of Family Sunday School. Our church has often tried to have an opportunity to have parents and children study the same portion of the Bible. Sometimes that has been in the Sunday School portion of church and sometimes it has been in the family small group. Family devotions provides a chances to do our assignment and discuss the word together.
9. Reading a Book Together. At different points, we have read different books together. When the children were young, they were family Bible books especially for young children. As the children grew older, we have read different books or even just a chapter of a book.
10. Applying the Message. One very important habit we have tried to inculcate in our family is talking about and applying the Sunday sermon to our lives. Good questions include: “What do you remember for this morning’s message? What illustration do you remember? What did God speak to you about? How do you think you are going to apply this morning’s message.”
Next time we will talk about several other practical suggestions.