Whether you’re just starting a New Year’s resolution to make family devotional time a priority and you need help getting started, or you’ve been doing it consistently for years and need some fresh ideas, these tips for great family devotional times will help you have consistent family devotions that are effective, engaging, and fun.
TIPS FOR GREAT FAMILY DEVOTIONS
- Keep it Simple (and Age Appropriate!)
The biggest mistake most parents make with family devotions is making it too complicated, which puts too much pressure on themselves and their kids. We’re not teaching seminary classes here—there is no test at the end. We’re just trying to get our kids interested in reading the Bible and praying, help them learn how to apply the Bible to their lives, and spend some quality time bonding spiritually as a family.
All you have to do is read a Bible passage, discuss it, and pray. You can do more activities, too, but just be sure to keep it fun and age-appropriate. A general rule of thumb is that kids can really only handle one main idea in every lesson. If you discuss other details of the story or bring up other questions, that’s fine, just make sure to bring it back to that one main idea. Don’t be afraid to repeat that main idea several times in different ways.
Kids learn through repetition. Keep it simple enough so that your kids are able to tell you what they learned in one short sentence, over and over again. Which means they will remember what they learned.
- Keep it Collaborative
Don’t assume that family devotional time means Dad reads aloud and then preaches or lectures while everyone else listens (or doesn’t really listen!). Involve everyone in the discussion, especially the kids. Take turns reading the passage or parts of it. Let them help choose which topics or books or stories you will discuss and ask them for creative ideas of how to interact with the text. Giving your kids ownership of family devotions will make them more excited to take part in them.
- Keep It Biblical
You can plan readings and discussion questions yourself, or there are tons of resources out there you can use. Just make sure they are actually based on the Bible. We’ve suggested some great ones below.
- Keep it Relevant
No matter how old we are, we all want to know how the Bible applies to our everyday life right now. Kids love to hear about our struggles and stories, so remember to share how the lesson applies to your own life. Then help them work through how it might apply to theirs.
One of the ways we can help our kids build a faith that sticks into adulthood is to show them how their faith is relevant to the world in which they live every day. Family devotional time isn’t just about reading cute kid’s Bible stories or learning or memorizing information. It’s about growing as disciples of Jesus, learning how to follow Him with our lives.
- Keep it Regular
Choose a time that works for your family and stick with it. There are no shortcuts to creating a new habit; you just have to commit and follow through. Whatever time you choose, make sure your whole family can be together on a regular basis. Consistency is key to developing family devotions into a habit and showing our kids that time with God is important to us.
- Keep it Fun
We’re not saying you have to have crazy water balloon games or pizza parties like the children’s ministry at church does, but we can make our family devotional times something our kids look forward to instead of dread. Incorporating some of the creative ideas below will help, but even our attitudes during our family devotions can make a big difference in setting the tone. Do we read the stories with feeling? Do we tell funny stories about ourselves? Do we laugh and joke around together? Do we act like we are actually enjoying our time with them?
Family devotions don’t have to be the hardest part of Christian parenting! With the Holy Spirit’s guidance and a few tips and tricks, we can all find joy in studying God’s Word together as a family.
IDEAS FOR CREATIVE AND ENGAGING FAMILY DEVOTIONS
- Act It Out
This idea can be especially helpful for those wiggly ones who can’t sit still to listen. Instead of just reading a Bible story, give every person in your family a role and act it out together. Kids always learn better through interactive play and they will always remember Dad putting on that deep voice of God speaking to Job out of the whirlwind or Mom dancing around the kitchen like Miriam. Anything we can do to make the Bible come alive for our kids (and ourselves) is worth embarrassing ourselves for.
Even if you are not an artistic or a crafty person, there are tons of resources online or in books for children’s art projects to go along with Bible stories. Or, simply let the kids create their own. Just have them draw or paint what they learned from the Bible lesson for that day. You never know, they may surprise you.
- Family Devotional Videos
I know we’re always getting on our kids about screen time, but when videos are rich in Bible content, they can be a great way to get kids excited about the Bible. When we can use their love of technology to share God’s truth, it’s guilt-free screen time!
For younger kids: Minno 5 Minute Family Devotionals – Watch a short child-friendly video clip about a biblical topic like Old Testament Heroes, the Fruits of the Spirit, or Big Questions, then discuss the questions as a family and pray together. A simple, easy, and fun way to keep your kids engaged in your family devotions.
For older kids: What’s in the Bible? In twenty-six wacky wonderful episodes, newscaster Buck Denver and his friends go on an adventure through the whole Bible – Genesis to Revelation. These kid-friendly videos are packed with rich Bible content and fun music to teach kids the big themes of each step along the way of the story of God’s rescue plan to save the world.
- Family Journal
Keep a family prayer, praise, and thanksgiving journal. Keep track of prayer requests and when/how those prayers were answered. Write down God sightings—the way you saw God working in your family, your church, or your community. Keep a list of things you are thankful for throughout the year.
Bonus: This activity gives you something to look back on at the end of the year, to remember all that God has done for your family.
Sing your favorite worship songs together and talk about the words and what they mean. Often, our kids (and we) sing along to songs in church without ever really stopping to ask what they mean. Many of our classic hymns and more modern worship songs have deep, poetic lyrics that can really enrich our understanding of God and His word.
- Praying the Headlines
Buy a newspaper (or print from online) and pray for the people and places involved in each headline you see. (For younger kids, you may want to choose the news stories ahead of time to screen out things that may be too hard for them to hear.) This helps open kids’ eyes to all that is going on in the world around them, helps develop empathy for others, and shows them that we believe in the power of prayer to help a hurting world.
- Experience Creation
Go for a hike or a canoe ride around a lake, or watch a sunset or sunrise together. Talk about the beauty of God’s creation and His power and majesty. You might even have the kids write their own Psalm praising God for the glory of His creation.
- Serve Together
Do a service project outside of the home like serving food at a soup kitchen or picking up trash at a public park. Or do something at home like writing Christmas cards to shut-ins or preparing care packages to give out to the homeless. Don’t just serve, but also talk to your kids about the experience and the people you are serving. Talk about God’s commands to serve others and to care for those who are hurting or in need.
BONUS TIP: Try this simple 5-step family Bible study method to break Bible verses down into easy-to-understand concepts for kids.
Great Family Devotional Books:
- Laugh and Learn Bible for Kids, by Phil Vischer
- Long Story Short and Old Story New, by Marty Machowski
- Big Beliefs!, by David Helm
- The Biggest Story, by Kevin DeYoung
- Everything a Child Should Know About God, by Kenneth N. Taylor