Help with Family Devotions
If you've ever attempted to have a time of devotional Bible reading with your family, you know it can sometimes be a heart-warming experience. You also know it can just as often be a hair-pulling experience. Young children can squirm and get disruptive. Older children may look like they would rather be anywhere else. Parents so often feel unequal to the task of teaching the Bible, and it is hard to know where to start. Much of the advice on how to have family devotions seems utterly impossible for "normal" families with imperfect children and impatient adults. Like so many other spiritual disciplines, our spirits are willing, but our flesh is weak and the obstacles can seem insurmountable.
Because my family has actually had some success at carving out a (more-or-less) daily devotional time where we read and discuss the Bible together, I sometimes get asked for advice on how to do it. Here's one recent example:
From what I can tell, you do family devotions every day … My problem is that I have no idea what to do, so I end up doing nothing. I lack the confidence to just dig into the Bible and teach my children. So, I look for other devotionals. They tend to be fluffy and watered down. I want somewhere in between watered down and seminary student. I want my kids to love the Bible.
I agree that many devotionals aimed at children and families leave something to be desired. Too many of them simply rip a verse or two out of context and then rush to some practical and only-too-obvious application. They don't really teach you how to read the Bible or understand its more difficult passages. On the other end of the spectrum, you have Bible studies which teach a robust method of Bible study, but which are too time-consuming or technical for most families. Where is that middle ground "between watered down and seminary student"?
I'll try to answer that question over the next few blog posts. Tomorrow, I'll offer general advice for how to conduct a family devotion time. Basically, I'll just be sharing what has worked for my family. After that, I'll point you to some Accordance features and resources that have helped me lead our family's devotions more effectively—including one I think hits the sweet spot between "watered down" and "seminary student."