I often get asked, “What is one thing that every Christian family should do?” Answer: Family Devotionals!!
A family devotional is a set-aside time of intentional connection. If you want to build better cohesion and connection within your family – have family devotionals. If you want to teach your kids about sex, sexuality, and gender from a faith-based lens – have family devotionals. If you want your children to obey more, or be more grateful, or understand God better – have family devotionals.
Family devotionals can serve as the avenue that creates deep connection within your family. And deep connection can accomplish almost anything in relationships.
I often speak with Christian parents who are hesitant to implement family devotionals because they can’t quite contextualize what it ought to look like. Below are some components that have proven to be helpful for many families during their family devotionals. Of course, this is simply a guide and should be altered to fit your family’s needs as you see fit.
Establishing a consistent day and time for your family devotionals is beneficial as it integrates this practice into your family routine. Moreover, scheduling these devotions helps you and your children unconsciously prepare yourselves for meaningful engagement and openness during your family bonding time. Consider designating a regular location for your devotionals, with occasional exceptions for special outings, to create a sense of security and readiness for profound and heartfelt connection.
These devotionals should not occur while the TV is on or while family members are scrolling through their phones. There should be no toys the kids are playing with or other activities happening simultaneously. These family devotionals are the activity. It ought to be a concentrated time of connection with no other distractions present. There will be plenty of times when you spend time together as a family while simultaneously doing something else—and these times were important and special too! But family devotionals are different. No distractions can serve as a relief during this sacred time of intentional connection together.
Ensure that family devotionals are enjoyable! It’s important that neither you nor your children approach these moments with dread. Tailor the duration of the devotional to match your child’s age, maturity level, and attention span, setting the stage for a successful experience. Incorporate elements of fun, such as playing a game before your devo, concluding your devo with a playful tickle fight, or engaging in role-playing based on real-life or biblical scenarios to tap into your child’s sense of playfulness and creativity. The primary factor determining whether your children will find these times enjoyable is your own enjoyment. Give your whole heart, be fully present with your child, and allow your own creativity and childlike wonder to fill your family’s time together. This will create an atmosphere of joy that envelops both you and your children.
This does not have to be a somber, mournful worship of God. This can be a joyful, exuberant worship of our Lord. Celebrate God’s love together as a family as you orient your hearts toward Him in praise and worship. Your children will take their cues from you. If you sing to God with reservation, your children will do the same. But if you wholeheartedly engage in lively worship, your family will mirror your devotion. Also incorporate prayer into your family devotionals so that you model for your children the surrender and reverence you have before God.
Though you don’t want to berate your children with your faith, you also do not want to shy away from the fact that God presides at the center of your life, heart, and family. This is a great time to continually sew the tenets of your faith into your children’s hearts.
You can read biblical stories and accounts during your devotionals (e.g., Noah’s ark). You don’t have to limit your devotionals to Bible stories alone. You can learn about a certain character from the Bible together, discussing their traits and devotion to God (e.g., “When was David obedient to the Lord and when did he mess up?”) showing your children that every human is flawed, but that even flawed humans can love and serve the Lord.
Addressing real-life family situations and seeking to integrate God into those discussions is essential during family devotionals. Use relevant verses like Ephesians 4:3, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace,” to guide conversations about family unity and conflict resolution.
As children grow into their teenage years, parents can adapt their approach. While continuing to model their own faith, parents can allow for more abstract discussions, emphasizing Godly principles like “integrity,” instead of “righteousness.” Strive for a balance in discussions, ensuring that faith is present but not forced upon your teenagers.
Family devotionals offer valuable opportunities for your children to acquire practical knowledge and real-life skills. These sessions can provide a neutral and focused environment where you can engage in conversations about complex, nuanced topics with your children, free from the distractions and pressures of everyday life.
Seize this time to address tough subjects like relationships, divorce, sexuality, gender, stranger safety, responsible drinking, financial management, peer influence, and more. As the God-appointed steward in your child’s life, your aim is to equip them for the challenges of life on Earth. Family devotionals serve as the ideal platform for ongoing education, helping your children navigate the world with God at the forefront of their hearts.
These family devotionals can serve as a time for your children to gain practical knowledge and life-application for real-life issues. These are neutral moments when you can discuss complex, nuanced topics with your children without the distractions and stressors of everyday life. Take this time to discuss things like sexuality, divorce, talking to strangers, drinking, money management, peer influence, and more. As the God-appointed steward in your child’s life, you want to help them to be as prepared for life on this earth as they can be. Family devotionals can be a great time to incorporate continuing education for your children on how to navigate this world with God at the forefront of their hearts.
Check out Ellen’s book, Love Covers Over, or her blog for further direction on family devotionals, specifically incorporating Ellen’s favorite family connection activity: Rant, Rave, and Repent.