Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Train Up Tuesday: Intentional Teaching Moments through Family Devotions

It’s not a topic that hasn’t already been discussed on The Roof (see this and this for some great resources), but in light of a recent discussion in a young couples’ small group I feel the topic of “family devotions” bears repeating.

We are all well aware that this generation (and rising generations) of young parents weren’t necessarily brought up in solid Christian homes (or even families that attended church on an infrequent basis). That being said, the question has arisen in the hearts of parents who have come to Christ as “first generation” Christians of “what does a Christian parent look like and how do you do devotions?” While there is no one answer of how every family should “do devotions” (every family has it’s own personality and each child has his own learning style), I do believe one must be intentional. I heard my husband say recently “you never accidentally become a mature believer just as you never accidentally get in shape physically.” We’ve talked about “teachable moments” in recent weeks, but I don’t think you can get more “intentional” with these moments than teaching the Word in your home. So, parents, it is up to us to disciple our precious little ones. That all begins with a good foundation and knowledge of God’s Word.

Talk with your spouse (it is ideal that the Christian husband lead - see Ephesians 6:4) and your children. Be intentional about a regular time and place to have devotions. Perhaps it’s first thing in the morning at breakfast. Maybe you prefer to hold it at the dinner table. Or you may enjoy ending your evening in your bed with the little ones as my family does with a devotion, songs, and prayer.

Be willing to change up your routine, especially if this is new to you. Your may need to be flexible (especially if you have toddlers!) about time, duration, and method of learning God’s Word. When we first started family devotions, it was maybe a couple times a week for about 5-10 minutes a lesson. I would find a simple Sunday school type lesson for toddlers either from a book or the internet. As my toddler and I would work on a related activity, my husband would read the lesson and perhaps play a short video or song found on the internet as well. This year, however, we have been working through “The Book of Life” series by Newton M. Hall & Irving F. Wood. It’s an older series (bought in the late 1970’s!) that my parents purchased but we never actually went through. It has been quite a treasure to go through it this year with my family. Next year, we may do something entirely different. The point is that there is no one way to do this. There are benefits of teaching topical lessons (especially when children are young to draw on their immediate interests) and expository lessons (going through large passages of scripture a little at a time which helps cover many topics). Whatever way and whatever time of day you choose, come to it with an open heart to hear God’s Word and to relate it to your family.

How are you currently having family devotions? What do you like best about it? What about your children? Do you have any suggestions for resources or tips for making the most of these times?

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