If you’ve read the blog before then you know that I write about my attempts at family worship. We sing, we read Bible stories, we act out Bible stories, we make up catechism songs, and probably other things. As the kids grow (and Courtney and I age) we change our tactics, so I thought about an update.
In 2018 we are trying something new (to us). With a little help from Replicate Ministries, the family and I have attacked a modified Bible reading plan that puts me, Courtney, and the older two boys reading the same passages and memorizing the same verses. This is a first for us, but it has (one month in to 2018) been incredibly beneficial. Allow me to explain the structure and the benefits:
Courtney and I are both reading in The Disciple’s Study Bible. There is nothing fancy about this Bible. It is a change in translation for us (from ESV to CSB), but that’s fine. However, key to this particular Bible is that it has Replicate’s F-260 plan in it. The plan, though not bringing someone through every verse in a year, brings you through significant parts of the story of Scripture (at roughly 10 chapters of Scripture a week) and embeds a journaling method into the pages of the Bible. The journaling method isn’t there to wow you; it simply allows for reflection and comment on the passages read in a way that leads toward application.
The boys are using the Foundations for Kids study. This guide points them to a smaller passage of Scripture from the same reading Courtney and I are on, and walks them through the passage. Our kids find the passage in their Bibles and underline whatever they are reading that day (generally 3-5 verses). The guide also has an activity at the end to help the kids think about the passage in a different way.
Each week also has memory verses. The fuller version of the F-260 has had us memorize anywhere from two to about six verses in a given week. The kid’s version of this only picks one of those verses as the memory verse. The memory verses are usually related to the ideas in the reading (if you’re reading about Abraham in Genesis, you might be memorizing what the NT authors say about him). Well, if you know me, you know I also make up songs for the kids’ verses so that we can memorize them better together.
There is no one right way to engage the Scriptures as a family, but I’ll explain why this method has been so helpful for us as a family and, also, for me as an individual.
- Writing: So many of us generally read the Bible on a device. I do, too. However, this format actually has me and my kids in the pages of the Bible. We take our pens and we mark things. Courtney and I write our thoughts out by hand. I know that disciples have not done this throughout all generations, but using paper and pen has been a good change for us.
- Learning the Bible: The boys actually look forward to their reading. They want to know what the activity will be (usually it is fun, sometimes it is “boring”) and they are getting more comfortable finding books of the Bible, chapter, and verses. It is good to see them gaining confidence in even navigating the pages of Scriptures.
- Discussions: At night, I don’t think about what I’m going to talk about with the boys. We’ve all engaged in the same thing at different times throughout the day. It is easy for me (assuming I’ve done my reading) to say, “This is what I read today and this is what I’m thinking about. What do you think about that?” For dads who might not know how to talk with their kids about the Bible, this helps us immensely.
- Fun: Our songs are goofy and they will become lame soon enough. For the time being, though, we enjoy learning the Bible together. We enjoy memorizing it. Even my four-year-old remembers the songs (and we never ask him to sing or participate; he just plays with his Legos nearby).
The ways I engage my family with the Scriptures have certainly changed over time. There are some things we used to do that we probably need to bring back. There are things we are doing now that we hope remain. However, an important question for parents is this: How are you instilling in your children a love for God and God’s Word?
Any plan is better than no plan. And, of course, there isn’t a plan that assures salvation for your kids (salvation comes “only by faith in Jesus Christ and in his substitutionary atoning death on the cross”—which is something we learned last year with a goofy song made up to New City Catechism). However, if you don’t have a plan, I’d encourage you to consider something that aligns your family on the same topics. It’ll be good for your own heart and good for your family.
Any other ideas or things you guys do? I’d love to hear because I’m always needing to learn new strategies.