Finding time to be in God’s Word can be difficult for anyone. I think if we are honest with ourselves we would acknowledge that there are seasons when it is difficult for us as adults to spend time investing in our relationship with Jesus. Work, family, home life, yard work, play-dates, being a chauffeur, and trying to get adequate rest can seem to overwhelm our days. Even in this new season of life where many of us are at home and being forced to slow down, we may not have been able to engage as much as we would have liked in our spiritual walk.
It is no secret that growth as a Christ follower is intrinsically dependent upon how much time we spend in community with Jesus. But what we don’t always consider is that students watch how the adults in their lives engage with Jesus, which directly affects their relationship with Him. Students should witness adults modeling a relationship with Jesus in their actions and speech, how often they read their Bibles, and in how they allow the truth of the Gospel to permeate their lives. But the question is, how do we do that, and how do we do it well?
A great way to help students grow in their relationship with Jesus is through their family. Families are hugely influential in the lives of students, and parents are the primary disciple-makers of our students. Therefore, we must help to equip and empower families to engage with God’s Word together. A great way to begin this conversation is by encouraging parents to engage in family devotions.
Family devotions are an opportunity to help draw parents and children together with one another and with Jesus. Family devotions do not need to be every day, they don’t have to be boring or childish, and they certainly do not need to be hours long. But they should allow for thoughtful conversation, opportunities for everyone to share and lead, and time to be loved and supported by those closest to you.
Many parents have not had this modeled for them, and therefore they feel ill-equipped or lost on how to begin. As shepherds for families and students we can help resource and equip parents to succeed in this model.
Here are some helpful tips and methods for doing devotions as a family:
- Encourage your families to start small. A half hour is a perfect time-frame for beginning family devotions. We often think that if we aren’t doing something, we have failed, and therefore decide to come up with a large and elaborate plan. But doing this actually can set you up for failure. Starting small allows you to grow the opportunity and interactions and allow for meaningful time together.
- Be intentional with your time. Don’t make the time together about completing a task off of a to-do-list. Instead, make it relational and spiritual. Care about your student’s life, and allow the Gospel to speak into it.
- Ask for your student’s input. Before kicking off your family devotions, look for insight from your student. Ask them what they think about it, ask what they would like to cover, ask if they would like to lead, ask what worries them about doing this, and ask if they want to do this. The answers you get may not be what you want, but you will gain valuable insight from your students, and you will also be empowering their voice and buy-in simply by hearing what they have to say.
- Make this a priority. This has to be something that families are consistent with and committed to. If they are not, their students will not buy into it. It has to be led from the top down, and if students sense a parent is for this then they will begin to be for it too.
- Be willing to adapt and change as needed. That is not to say that you should skip or postpone devotional times, but instead be willing to be flexible. This could be because of a special event, or maybe you want to add time to go deeper. Whatever the circumstance, flexibility is a must-have for families to succeed.
I would also like to provide you with some resources for equipping families to help them succeed in this. These are very easy ways to begin stepping into family devotions together.
- Here is a daily text based devotion to give to parents who can then send them to their students. This is designed to be a simple way to send a text to your student each day. It can also serve as a reminder for them to read God’s Word and apply it to their lives.
- Another great resource would be to check out this video about helping your students engage in God’s Word and develop healthy spiritual rhythms. It is a quick clip but dripping with truth and helpful ideas and gives you opportunities to help grow your student’s personal devotions alongside family devotions.
- David R. Smith wrote an article on enhancing in-home devotions and he offers some very helpful tools and tips, as well as some resources for you and your family.
- As far as methodology is concerned, there are many ways to study the Bible. You can simply read a passage and respond to it, or use a more scripted time to help you grow. Here are a few of my personal favorites:
- Other helpful digital resources include biblegateway.com, www.bible.com, www.openbible.info/topics/, net.bible.org, and www.blueletterbible.org. These are online Bibles that come with a variety of resources including commentaries, various versions, studies, topical searches, and much more.
Being intentional and pouring into the spiritual growth and development of families is a priority that we must pursue. My prayer for you is that these resources help you and your family deepen your walk with Jesus, and that we develop families of disciple-makers who are radically changing the world for Jesus.