Do you have any suggestions for more effective ways to worship and study the Bible together as a family? We've tried hard to have regular devotions at our house, but it's been difficult and discouraging because our children seem so bored and uninvolved. Can you help us?
Most Christian parents would probably agree that the spiritual training of their children is important, but they don't feel as if they have the time, energy, or qualifications to provide it. Many let this aspect of child-rearing fall by the wayside out of ignorance or fear of failure. The fact that you're putting out an effort in this area tells us that your heart is in the right place, and you're moving along the right path. We want to encourage you to keep up the good work. We'd also like to help you fine tune your approach to your kids' spiritual training.
If you have devotions, we suggest you keep them brief and age-appropriate. Talk about issues your child might be dealing with. Family nights are a less traditional way to accomplish the same goal. These fun times with a spiritual point might feature anything from games to object lessons to watching and discussing a movie. For a more complete explanation and some practical ideas to get you started, we recommend that you take a look at our Parents' Guide to the Spiritual Growth of Children. This book is published by Focus on the Family and Tyndale House and can be ordered by way of our Online Store.
Regular prayer times are also important. As your children grow, make the effort to pray with them about their personal struggles. When God answers a prayer, call it to your child's attention and thank the Lord for what He's done. In the meantime, keep an eye out for those teachable moments that pop up during the course of everyday life – opportunities to draw spiritual lessons out of practical circumstances. They can present themselves at any time, and they don't have to be structured. You might, for example, tell the story of Noah as you drive through the rain, or talk about the folly of revenge when you see an advertisement for a violent movie.
Parental modeling is the most important piece of this puzzle. Kids need to see active faith demonstrated in their parents' lives. No one expects you to be perfect, but your actions truly speak louder than your words. Letting your children see you read the Bible, for instance, shows them the relevance of Scripture to your life. It can also lead to some important discussions of spiritual things.
When this kind of foundation is being laid at home, church and youth group activities can function as supplements to boost your child's spiritual growth. It's important for your kids to spend time with other believers, and worship services and group outings can reinforce what your child is taught within the family. They will also provide opportunities for developing friendships with peers who share your family's values and beliefs. Mission trips are a great way to give your child a chance to practice biblical principles while seeing first-hand how the rest of the world lives.
Focus on the Family offers a wide variety of resources for dads and moms to help communicate biblical values to the next generation. These are listed below along with a collection of helpful articles. We also publish two monthly magazines for children, Clubhouse and Clubhouse, Jr.
If you need help applying these principles, call our staff of pastoral counselors. They'd love to discuss your questions and concerns with you over the phone.
Getting Kids to Do Devotions: Joe White explains how parents can get kids motivated to do devotionals by themselves.
Adventures in Odyssey
Fun Family Faith Activities