For busy parents, the words “family devotion” sounds like a goal that is beyond reach. But it doesn’t have to be. City News shares with you four tips gleaned from a recent Family Devotion Night conducted by City Harvest Church’s children’s ministry, Harvest Kidz.
For the second year running, Harvest Kidz conducted a Family Devotion Night online to teach parents and children the practical ways of doing devotion as a family. As a mother of two primary school-going children, I joined in the Zoom session with my boys on a Wednesday night (14 Jun), eager to start our devotion.
In the first half of the session, Harvest Kidz pastor, Lynn Tan, shared her own family devotion journey. She also invited two other parents to share their experiences. After the sharing, all the participants, grouped according to their children’s ages, went into breakout rooms led by various pastoral staffers, who took the families through fun and interactive activities to make the devotion more enjoyable.
MAKING FAMILY DEVOTION FUN
Drawing from the parents’ sharing, here are some tips for family devotion.
1. Try different approaches
One thing that was brought up a few times is that there is more than one way to do family devotion and that it often takes a few tries to get comfortable. This is especially true for families with young children: it is near impossible to get them to sit down during worship, much less lift their hands and close their eyes.
Family devotion can be many things—it can be reading a Bible story or devotion, it can be singing a worship song or playing music on an instrument. For younger children or kinetic learners, it can be playing a game to teach a Bible principle or drawing a picture together to explain scripture.
In the breakout room, Pastor Veronica Tang, and her husband Aaron, demonstrated an activity that parents can do to illustrate Jeremiah 17:8, “They will be like a tree planted near water. It sends out its roots beside a stream. It is not afraid when heat comes. Its leaves are always green. It does not worry when there is no rain. It always bears fruit.”
One of them was to match the picture of different types of trees to its name. The other was to use materials around the house to dress up as a tree. Using these activities, parents can talk about how trees can grow big and strong because they have strong roots in the ground. This can then lead into a conversation about how when we are rooted in Jesus, we will also be able to withstand the “heat” of life.
2. It’s okay to start small
I used to think that family devotion was like a mini-cell group meeting that consisted of praise and worship, Bible lesson and prayer time. That expectation set me up for failure. After listening to the experience of other parents, I realised that it’s okay to start small. It could be just reading a Bible story, discussing a devotion, or singing a worship song together.
As the children grow, they can slowly learn to take on different roles. The older children can read the Bible story while the younger ones start by reading the Scriptures. Pastor Lynn shared that her husband once challenged their children to memorise the 66 books of the Bible. Teo Mei Shan shared that she would occasionally spend time alone with elder daughter to teach her deeper truths that her younger siblings aren’t able to understand yet.
These little actions are seeds sown into the children’s lives and in time, God will cause them to bear fruit.
3. There are many resources out there that we can tap on
In the session, Pastor Lynn recommended some resources that can be used for family devotion. My favourite is Give Us Today Our Daily Bread by Our Daily Bread Ministries. Harvest Kidz gives it out to the children and my boys bring home their own copy every few months. It’s easy to understand, the devotion is relatable to my children and there are discussion topics for each day. I find it really useful.
Pastor Lynn also recommended card games to make the devotion more interactive and books for older children. Parents can also download the Bible App for Kids, which contains many resources for them to use.
4. It takes a lot of effort to cultivate the habit but it’s worth the while
Most parents will tell you it’s not easy to cultivate the habit of having family devotion daily. After a long day at the office, family devotion sounds like way too much work.
Anna Goh shared in the online session that she and her husband Jimmy Yong treasure the short time they get to spend having family devotion each day. It is an opportunity for them to sow into their children’s lives and for their children to hear the Word of God and experience God every day.
I agree with Anna. On most days, I would read a devotion with my boys, then we would pray, and they would go to bed. But there are also instances where the devotion speaks to them and they would share about something that happened in school that affected them.
On other occasions, the devotion may even spark a discussion about certain godly values and give me an opportunity to answer their doubts about the Bible. These little discussions give my boys the assurance that they can share their problems and clarify their doubts about God with us, their parents. We hope this will help them in their personal journey with God.
The one thing that Pastor Lynn and all the parents emphasised is that it is important for faith to start at home. When we, as parents, introduce Jesus to our children when they are young, it will positively develop their faith.
So let’s start sowing that seed in our children and watch God grow it in them.