Over two years ago I pulled back the curtain on how our family did “family worship” (that whole idea of praying, Bible reading, etc. with your family). It wasn’t magical. In fact, there is no curtain at all. I still think in some people’s minds the idea resembles something from The Saturday Evening Post (though I think the enthusiasm might be similar to the picture below). But that is so far from reality for any family I know.
Two years ago was a long time ago in the life of a young family. Everyone is . . . older. Kids are developing differently. Everyone is in some type of school (even dad [mom is in the school of hard knocks]). We are learning to read, learning to think differently, and learning to serve others better.
With that in mind, here is the updated (though I wouldn’t say “new and improved”) way we are talking about Jesus together as a family.
Two years ago we had a call and response. I made it up, and much of this has continued two years later. The funny thing is that the kids are now expecting this to be a part of our Bible reading time, which is fun.
- “Who is the Bible About?” One of the kids answers, “Jesus.” This one often goes to kid #3. As the youngest of the clan, I like to throw him softballs.
- “What did Jesus do?” One of the older boys still answers, “Died for our sins.”
- “And where is sin?” Same answers as before, “In our hearts.”
- “And does sin make us obey or disobey?” This one was added. I don’t have a magic formula for these questions. I added this one as a way to show the. Perhaps better would be to quote James 1:5, but we don’t. The answer (in case you were unaware is, “Disobey.”
From there we dive in. We actually have a new format. We’ve done the Big Picture Story Bible (recommended), the Jesus Storybook Bible (recommended), and the Jesus Calling Bible Storybook (only recommended if you skip the devotional part at the end and stick to the story itself, but even then there are better Bibles for kids out there; we’ve stopped using it). We are currently using the a Five Minute Story Bible put out by Gospel Project. But we have two changes to what we used to do.
- A Reader in the Family: With our oldest working on his reading skills, we got him a readers Bible for Christmas. What we are working on is having him read 1-4 verses a night and then we have a quick discussion (emphasis on quick).
- Acting it Out: The new thing, and I think it started sometime at the end of last year, is to act out the story. We pick the next story in the Five Minute Story Bible, I ask kids what parts we need, and we act it out. It’s ridiculous but fun. I have zero idea if the kids will remember it, but they ask for it and I figure different ways of interacting with the Bible can only help, so I’m for it.
The main goal with this is to make conversations about Jesus a normal part of what we do.
Prayer is a harder one for us. It isn’t that prayer is unimportant, it is that I can’t force people to want to pray. You can imagine a dad going, “SHARE YOUR PRAYER REQUEST WITH ME. NOW!!!” However, that won’t fly (I’ve probably tried it). I don’t force prayer here, lest the kids have memories of prayer time being them not sharing enough.
Instead, I’ve (recently) created a structure where prayer becomes fun (for us). I’ve divided it up into days of the week. Monday through Wednesday the boys alternate picking a country and we pray for it. We have stickers and put them on a map. Thursdays we pray for the neighbors on our street. Friday we pray for missionaries (we tell the boys every Christian is one, but we focus on those who are leaving their home to proclaim Jesus in another). Weekends are fair game for whatever (usually family members and goofy things like “the carpet” and “blankets.”)
The structure isn’t to force prayer, but we use it to get us talking. It has worked thus far, and the predictability is good for us right now. (If your family is older, I’d love to hear what you do to encourage prayer).
The singing as we used to has dropped some—a lot, actually. My guitar has floated around some, we moved, and the boys are going to bed at different times. We do it from time to time, but singing has re-entered (other than in the car) after all this is done. While the boys are in bed Courtney or I might go back in (bed time no. 2) and sing to the boys, talk about life, tell jokes, or whatever else. It’s an add-on that we’ve enjoyed (although it prolongs bed time).
We are always looking for new ways to help our kids know Jesus. These work for us right now, are fun, and the boys look forward to them. But how about you? What do you with your family that we could learn from?