Here’s a guest post written by close friends and fellow church planters, Michael and Lisa Hall. We’ve asked them to tell us a bit about how they structure their family devotions, and we think you’ll find it both inspiring and achievable. Here’s what they had to say…
Our greatest desire for our three boys is that they would grow up to love Jesus. To help that process we wanted to think through a family devotional plan. Don’t let that sentence put you off! It doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to look like something suitable for pinterest or instagram. Our aim is simple: We want to read the Bible with our children and talk about it.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
– Deuteronomy 6:4-8
This section from Deuteronomy reminds us that learning about God and growing in faith is not restricted to the hour that they spend in the kids’ club at church. It needs to be a regular part of family life, which is what these verses describe – talking about God’s words when you’re at home, when you’re out and about, at night-time and in the morning.
Introducing children to Jesus isn’t done in the one off big events, it’s done in the countless everyday moments. We’ve tried to do this in structured and unstructured ways. From before they were able to understand it, we have read the Bible with the boys every night before bedtime (going through the Jesus Storybook Bible*, The Beginner’s Bible* and The Big Picture Story Bible* multiple times). They love routines and would not let us forget to do this! It’s a small but incredibly important investment. It takes 5-10 minutes and our 5 year old twins have heard God’s word for most of the 1825 days they’ve been here.
In a more unstructured way we have loved learning the bible through singing. We always have a Colin Buchanan CD on the go in the car and, due to the fact that the songs are incredibly catchy, we’ve found the boys and ourselves memorising parts of the Bible without trying!
As well as the everyday bible reading and singing in the car, we have recently started to try a more planned time to help the boys engage with what they are hearing and learning. So, once a week after we finish eating, we have the catchily-titled Hall family bible time. We choose some verses from Colin Buchanan’s Baa Baa Doo Baa Baa* album (which is just Bible verses as songs) to learn and talk about. We choose verses to help us think about the big sweep of the gospel story from creation, through the fall, redemption and then looking forward to new creation.
We sing the bible verse through a couple of times and ask the boys a few simple questions (see examples below). It doesn’t matter when they get it wrong, it’s an opportunity to talk about what the words mean and help them think through what the verse says. We often give sweets out to encourage participation with these questions and sometimes we include a small craft activity. We spent a couple of weeks in each verse which helped them to learn and remember the questions we had been asking.
Here are the first 4 verses we used with examples of the sort of questions we asked.
In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God (He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made that was made.)
- We spent some time looking at pictures and youtube videos of the universe
- What does beginning mean?
- Who is the word?
- Who made x/y/z?
- Who made you?
- Why did God make you?
We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has gone his own way, but the Lord has laid on him, the iniquity of us all
- We made some sheep by sticking cotton wool on paper plates
- What does it mean if a sheep goes astray?
- What does it mean for us to go astray/our own way?
- What does iniquity mean?
- Who has it been laid on?
He saved us, not because of the righteous things we’ve done, by his mercy, through Jesus Christ his son
- Who saved us?
- What does righteous mean?
- What does mercy mean?
- Why has he saved us?
Do not let your hearts be troubled, trust in God trust also in me, in my Father’s house there are many rooms, if it were not so I would have told you. I’m going to prepare a place for you, and if I go to prepare a place for you I will come back to take you to be with me, so you may also be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.
- What does it mean if your heart is troubled?
- What does Jesus say you should do if your heart is troubled?
- Where is Jesus going and what is he doing?
- What is the way to the place he is going?
Don’t picture in your mind that this is a perfectly executed miniature church service. Sometimes they engage with the questions, sometimes they don’t. It’s often chaotic and the songs and questions are regularly interrupted so we can break up fights and clear up spillages! That doesn’t matter – it’s the long-term cumulative effect of exposure to God’s word that we’re aiming for.
Why not try it this year? It doesn’t have to be the same as us, but take some time to think about how you will expose your children to God’s word. We can’t change our children’s hearts, only God can do that, but we think of what we are doing as gathering kindling (to borrow a phrase from Matt Chandler) and praying for the Holy Spirit to set it alight.
Michael and Lisa are parents to three boys, twins Timothy and Ezekiel (5) and Simeon (2). They spend their time teaching Physics, clearing up Lego and helping to plant Grace Church Hartlepool. Michael blogs at justworshipgod.com and would love you to follow him on snapchat (justworshipgod) for a daily dose of the good news of Jesus.
The Halls have kindly given us access to their Spotify List of all the Colin Buchanan Memory verses songs.
You can also download printable Bible verses to go with the songs by subscribing to our mailing list using the form below.