School starts next week and calendars are quickly filling.
Does your weekly schedule include: Discipling my children to know and love God?
Although Sunday school, kid’s programs, vacation Bible school, and AWANAs are all awesome, no one has more power to influence your child for Jesus than YOU.
You are the most important person, your home is the most important place, and your daily life is the most important program.
This week at RENEW we’re challenging each other to take steps toward leading our families to Jesus. The husbands and fathers were particularly challenged, but all of us can influence our homes and help create habits that foster faith, love, hope, grace, renewal. We’re not experts, but here are some simple ideas Kari and I collaborated on toward making small starts:
1. A little something done consistently is better than a big bang that fizzles out. Teaching your child just one short verse each week (such as Letter Lessons) is better than attempting an elaborate program only to quit after 5 days and do nothing at all. Our pride and egos tend to push us toward bigger and better and flashier programs and curricula, but small simple steps of meditating on God’s Word, praying, and practicing real everyday faith are more effective long-term. Start small and go the distance.
2. Do something within your gifting. If you love to read, read. If you love to act and play more active games, act our Bible stories with your kids. If you love to play instruments, sing! If your heart is for prayer, pray! Don’t stress too much about having the perfect devotional program, just do what you enjoy and let your joy and passion inspire your children. If you actually enjoy what you’re doing, chances are they will too.
3. Schedule it in. We only actually do what we make a priority. If we think family devotional time will just naturally wiggle its way into our day, we’re dreaming. Again, it doesn’t have to be every single night (although that’s awesome if it is!) but plan 2-3 times a week of intentional family time seeking God. Plan it the way you would a sports practice or swim lessons. Decide what you want to do and schedule it in. Right now is the perfect time, before school starts, to put family devotional time as a priority on the calendar. Make it a priority this year.
4. Find a great resource. Below is a list of family devotional resources. Browse and perhaps buy or download one that works for you. Start by getting a good family Bible. Since most kids are visual learners, and since knowing the Big Story is more helpful than getting bits and pieces of bite-sized morals, let us recommend a few possibilities for a parent-kid-family Bible:
- The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name, by Sally Lloyd-Jones (also a read-aloud edition, and deluxe edition with audio CD). This one has become our favorite, even though it’s probably aimed for reading to younger kids. I’ve recommended it to many new Christians (even those without kids) simply for getting a grasp of the Story of God, and the Hero — Jesus. The words flow with a poetic cadence, making them memorable, and each story points to who Jesus is, why He came, and what it means to follow Him.
- The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments, by Marty Machowski and A. E. Macha. Each story covers two pages (less pictures and more words), yet told in an engaging style. Each lesson has questions aimed to help kids notice the people and features of each biblical story, and it’s connection to God’s character, His Son, and the Gospel.
- The Big Picture Story Bible, by David R. Helm and Gail Schoomaker. Another good picture Bible giving the over-arching narrative of God’s story. Stellar illustrations, though you’ll need to come up with your own questions for interaction and inciting wonder.
- Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God, by Marty Machowski. This one is more of a plan for daily discussions and lessons, for preschool-to-elementary-aged kids.
We have each of those, having added one a year to give new perspectives. As our kids have become familiar with the biblical narrative and story of Jesus we let them choose a story from two Bibles, and then read them together. It doesn’t take long, and each conversation has the opportunity to take a thousand twists and turns (in the form of questions). We see this as “quantity time becoming quality time.”
One last resource to mention:
A Beginners Guide to Family Worship by Winfield Bevins ($2.99 ebook published by Gospel-Centered Discipleship)
Summary: Every Christian parent can lead their home in family worship — simply coming together as a family and worshipping God in the home. This little book has been prepared as an introduction to family worship and to help you teach your children basic Christian beliefs and to memorize Scripture.
(This ebook is 24 pages, and available in your choice of ePub, mobi, or PDF format.)
- GospelCenteredDiscipleship.com also has numerous articles on making disciples in our families.
Right now is the perfect time to establish godly habits to lead our families to Jesus. I’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas, and resources suggestions for your own family worship times. Thanks so much for reading, and sharing!