Two weeks ago, our family sat around the breakfast table and opened our first “Resurrection Egg.” I was so excited to break open these nifty little teaching tools, with elements of Christ’s journey to the cross, tucked inside. I had visions of dreamy devotions for kids and sweet little children soaking in every word. Well, it didn’t quite happen like I had imagined.
Instead, this is what ensued: A disagreement over who got to open the first egg; The donkey (it was Palm Sunday, after all) popping out of the egg and landing on the floor; Two children scrambling under the table to find the donkey first and one hitting his head in the process; One adamantly insisting that the donkey was a small dog; Scripture being read; Spilled milk; The three-year old donning on his roller skates while mom attempted a clean up; Haggling to get said child back to the table; Shortest Bible lesson ever; Several hours later, an onslaught of questions from the five-year old.
Let me tell you. It was far from the dreamy Bible lesson I had anticipated. However it was something. And, gauging from the questions that followed after the fact, that “something” managed to find its way into one heart (and completely over the other one’s head). The discussion with our five year old reminded me that God is working in our children’s hearts, even when we least expect it. Family devotions are worth every minute of set-aside time. Here are some ways to initiate devotions with your family and how to keep them going strong:
- Keep Them Regular: Set a specific time of day, such as during breakfast, after dinner, or before bed. Sticking to the routine will help you to incorporate it more regularly into your daily life.
- Keep Them Easy: Have everything you need to do your devotions in a prominent place. For example, utilize a dining room table basket as a centerpiece and as reminder. In the basket, include napkins, salt and pepper shakers, a Bible, and a small devotional book. Even if the adults forget to initiate the devotions, your kids will see the visual and remember.
- Keep Them Engaging: Cater your Bible teaching to the age of your children. Keep it relevant to their daily life. For younger children, keep the devotions short to coincide with their attention span. For older children, communicate with them as adults. Allow them to select topics, ask questions, and give them the responsibility of teaching occasionally.
- Keep Them Real: Make sure your children know that you are not infallible. If you have wronged them in any way, ask for forgiveness and explain how you want to handle yourself next time. Provide a model of grace, humility, and forgiveness for them to follow.
- Keep Them Growing: Think of practical ways that you can each apply what you have learned in the devotions. Be the first to apply the lesson. Deliberately look for love in action in your children or spouse. Encourage one another.
- Keep Them Flexible: Inevitably, there will be days that will not fall into the routine. Be creative and do devotions on the run. Incorporate a favorite Bible verse or challenge into the plans for the night. Live out your faith in the drive thru, at the soccer game, and while grocery shopping. (Some of our best faith conversations have been in the car.)
- Keep Them Imperfect: No one’s family devotions will be perfect. Know that and keep trying anyway. Persevere and hold onto the truth that God’s Word will not return void.
- Keep Them Fun: The last thing you want is for your kids to roll their eyes during this time. You want them to eagerly anticipate the Bible teaching. Consider acting out lessons with dress up clothes and/or puppets, make verses hands on, create things together, have fun, and be silly.
Clearly, this is not an exhaustive list. So, what works for your family? We would love to hear your comments and suggestions! Thank you!