These studies are designed for you to begin reviewing the passage early in the week and preparing your heart before God to present His truths to your children and others God may bring your way (Col. 4:17). A time of family sharing is a wonderful way of solidify truths in the lives of each individual; however, it will not take the place to each individual's own relationship with God. (See Individual Devotions section.)
What you teach others will be an outgrowth of your own relationship with God. It will either be a reflection of God's Spirit and His glory, or it will be a reflection of yourself.
There are many different means of carrying out family devotions depending on the interests and bents of your family. Truths from the current passage can be presented throughout the week in a variety of ways for various ages. Family night should include all ages in some way.
You may prefer to put very young children to bed before beginning a discussion time. However, young children will very soon enjoy singing with the group, which is a wonderful part of family devotion time. As they become a little older, you may want to provide a color page and some crayons during discussion time. Children can learn by listening even before they can articulate what they learn by talking.
INCLUDE YOUNGER CHILDREN
Look over the Creative Activity Ideas section of the Spiritual Teacher Training Book, and find something that will both interest your young child and relate to the truths in the current passage, or use some of the ideas from the activity page of the Parent Study Guide.
CONSIDER OLDER CHILDREN
Older children can be included in the process of planning a family evening.
Allow them to take turns preparing a game, a drama, a song, a craft, etc. Let them help choose a devotion introduction theme for the month.
Help older children guide younger children in preparing such things as a drama, a song, a craft, etc.
There are many ways to carry out family devotions. This section examines several family devotion methods and focuses on a weekly family devotion evening of events.
See the Introduction Theme section in the "Tips and Tools" portion of the Spiritual Teacher Training 101 Book.
ROLES TO ESTABLISH
As parents you need to make a general plan for your family. It may be that all you will do together is to determine your minimum interaction with the weekly passage.
We recommend daily individual devotions and a weekly time for sharing and accountability (along with sharing with others on Sunday and throughout the week). Some families are able to spend some time together each day, and that is good. However, you will not be able to walk with your children everywhere every day the rest of their lives, but God and His Word can.
Thursday or Friday may be a good time to have family devotions after individuals have completed most of their lessons. The fifth day is more application-oriented so that it can be somewhat of a follow-up. Saturday you can do other devotional projects or further research. Sunday is the day to share with others and begin again.
Each person should find something with which to encourage the family.
WHAT ABOUT MOM?
Mom, the man does not need to spend hours planning and carrying out individual or family devotions in order to be the spiritual leader of the family. You are the one who has responsibility for the children who are home all day and who arrive home before your husband does. You can choose activities which will feed your young children and challenge those who are a little older. You can read to the non-readers. You can help school-age children schedule their times for devotions and monitor their progress.
You can have the children so ready by the time Dad arrives home that they cannot wait to tell him what they have been learning, right after you and your husband spend a few minutes sharing with each other the events of your days. It helps to have a time of re-acquaintance with one another after focusing on separate goals throughout the day. When Dad shares what he has learned from the passage, there will be a bond of understanding.
During family devotion times you can help the children share what they have been learning from and doing about the passage during the week. In this role you facilitate discussion and involvement rather than providing answers.
WHAT ABOUT DAD?
Dad, it does not need to be your objective to "teach" a lesson. You are already sharing your relationship with God with your children. Individuals see the value you place on your time with God and how it is meaningful to you. When you see something going the wrong direction, you can point individuals toward the Scriptures.
These materials are just tools to help you communicate with your children at any age about both your relationship and their relationships with God. The materials provide a look at passages and facilitate family communication about individual growth.
During family devotion times you can be the teacher. You can share what you have been learning from the passage and should find something with which to encourage the family. You can correct errors you have heard or answer questions that have arisen. You do not need to be afraid of not having all the answers. Only God has all the answers. You should be willing to find answers. You can do or guide research with study tools such as a concordance, commentaries or other spiritual leaders and share results later.
WHAT ABOUT SINGLE PARENTS?
Be encouraged! You can effectively guide your children, too. Look at the roles of both Dad and Mom on the preceding page, and determine the appropriate responsibilities your children need you to handle. Your relationship with God is the first priority.
PRINCIPLES TO CONSIDER
You will not study the current passage in detail again for as many as six years, so glean from it thoroughly. Do not be afraid of overexposure. A week is not very long. As each person applies what God is teaching him or her daily, it will be both a challenge and a comfort.
For children who are using this curriculum both at home and in Sunday School, we recommend that they only complete one lesson each week. Parents and Sunday School teachers can coordinate evaluation and correction efforts.
CONSIDER SOME SUCCESSFUL STYLES
SUGGESTIONS FOR SUCCESSFUL FAMILY DISCUSSIONS:
SUGGESTIONS FOR PRAYING TOGETHER:
There are a number of ways to pray as a group following the devotion discussion. Here are some ideas which have proven profitable.
INCLUDE A TOPICAL THEME OCCASIONALLY:
Look over the Introduction Themes section in the Tips and Tools portion of the Family Devotion Training 101 book for ways to have weekly devotions with seasonal and family events. Remember that the individual's relationship with God and His Word, not the event, is the goal. Events are intended to whet the appetite and get the attention of various individuals in a variety of ways. They are intended to help Scripture come alive, but not to overshadow it. Pray and be careful. Remember your focus.