Let’s be brutally honest. No matter how wonderful your ministries to children and teens may be, your church just doesn’t have students for enough hours a week to give them an unshakeable faith foundation and help them develop to their full God given potential. Parents need to put in additional hours of teaching and spiritual coaching if they really want their children to grow up to be faithful, productive Christians.
One great way to encourage parents to participate more consistently in the spiritual education of their children is to help them get into the habit of having daily family devotionals. Unfortunately, many Christian parents have no idea how to teach a family devotional. To make it even more difficult, the process involves establishing a new daily habit. There are some tools, however, that can make it more likely the families served by your ministry will begin having daily family devotionals. Here are a few of our favorites.
- Teach parents the ABCs of family devotionals. Believe it or not, you don’t necessarily want to start them off by insisting they have hour long daily family devotionals if they aren’t currently doing any at all. Give parents tips for forming the habit by anchoring, setting thresholds and other tactics. Your ABCs document or class should also discuss versions of the Bible, activities, service projects and other aspects of family devotionals that will engage their children in learning about God at home.
- Develop and share family devotionals based on weekly sermons. Not only does this extend learning for both parents and children, it’s a great way to teach children how to listen and learn from sermons. When developing these devotionals, don’t forget to shorten scripture readings, ask age appropriate questions and develop activities for families that want to do a little bit more.
- Provide links to online devotionals. You can suggest various devotionals for parents to use by providing links. Our Parenting Like Hannah website (www.parentinglikehannah.com) has tons of free devotionals… just type “devotionals” into the search box.
- Bible person of the week. Remember the “star students” in elementary classrooms? Why not name a Bible person of the week? List the stories in the Bible connected to that person and encourage families to read and discuss as many of them as possible during the week. Over the course of a year, families will become familiar with the lives of 52 people in the Bible. If you want to put in a little extra effort, develop some great discussion questions for each person to encourage families to learn lessons from their lives and not just stories.
- New Testament in a year challenge. The problem I have found with some family devotionals is that too much scripture is covered in each lesson. It’s unrealistic to expect a family who has never had consistent family devotionals to suddenly read and discuss multiple chapters of scripture a day. Reading the New Testament in a year, provides readings that are one chapter or less each day. Some days the readings may be tougher for young children to understand, so on those days encourage parents to point out a couple of important or practical verses in the reading.
- Christian Life Skills devotionals. Our website has a Living the Christian Life life skills curriculum that can also be used for family devotionals. To work in the schedules of most families, each lesson will probably last a week. (http://teachonereachone.org/living-the-christian-life-teen-curriculum/)
- Daily devotional texts. Text each family who signs up a verse of the day and a thought question about the scripture. This bare bones devotional can work well for families who are really struggling to have regular family devotionals. Just make sure the texts are scheduled to be sent very early in the morning (or the night before) for those who do breakfast devotionals.
- Devotional books. Buy in bulk to cut costs or ask for people to donate their old family devotional books.
When parents become intentional about the spiritual education of their children, good things happen. Help them by encouraging daily family devotionals. Every child should be exposed to scripture daily if we really want them to grow to be the Christians God wants them to be.