How We Do Family Devotions

Almost every Christian parent I know understands their primary role as a parent: to raise their kid to follow Jesus. Everything else is secondary, isn't it? If I pay the bills, but my kids never follow Jesus, that's a loss. If they learn algebra, physics, and chemistry but never learn how to follow Jesus... If they have all the clothes they need, all the toys they need, all the medical provision they need, but leave my house without a relationship with Jesus... If I prepare them for college, and the workforce, and adult life, but I never prepare them to meet their Creator...

If my children leave the house at 18 and decide that Christianity is not for them, that doesn't mean I've failed. Following Jesus is a personal decision; one that I cannot force anyone to make. But my primary job as dad is to lead them to make that decision. And it starts with me opening up my Bible and teaching them what it says.

Every now and then while I'm talking with other parents the topic of family devotions comes up. Some say, "Man, I'm so bad at that" or "I haven't done that in a while." And sometimes they'll ask what Anna and I do with our kids. We do two things: read the Bible with them and teach them Q&A's. In this post I'll briefly explain how we read them the Bible, and in next week's post I'll share with you the catechisms I wrote.

We read the Bible with them every day. 

Every day. Well, every day usually turns into five days a week. But we shoot for every day so that we'll get in at least five days each week.

Every day means its a routine. Routine means they get used to it, and there's no fuss about doing it because it's something we do every evening. Getting used to it every night means it's a habit. Making it a habit means they are thinking about God's words all the time and they end up asking us random questions about God, about following Jesus, and about theology all the time - their minds are going. And that's my goal - not knowledge acquisition but learning to follow Jesus every day.

We just read it and talk about it.

I used to really put time into our family devotions. One time I taped a large piece of parchment paper to the wall and drew sketches of Abraham's family. Another time I made up hand signals to match the 7 days of creation. Other times I've gone on well-planned walks with them and had specific talks with them.

All that went really well, but it was unsustainable. I certainly cannot be that creative every day. So now we just make sure we read them the Bible every night, we explain what we just read, and we answer the natural questions they ask. I have time for that.

That's pretty much it.

Every now and then our church will do something really cool. Every now and then we'll do something creative and elaborate. I think those rare, special occasions are memorable and impactful. But I think the most important aspect of family devotions is regularity. Habits, rhythms, routines - oh my - they are highly influential.

In case you're wondering, we use a children's Bible we really like. It covers the major stories and themes, but we've read it all the way through numerous times and the kids need more. So soon we'll begin reading chapter by chapter through a real Bible - the New Reader's International Version.

My next post will cover the theological side of our bedtime routine - Q&A's.