There’s nothing like God’s Word.
What other sacred text can be described as alive and active (as in Hebrews 4:12)? How incredible is it that ancient words are relevant in our modern age? And what a gift that a book with such depth is also simple enough for kids!
Faith in God is meant to be a family affair.
The Israelites in Deuteronomy were instructed to diligently teach their children the ways of the Lord, and that stands true today. Jesus blessed children and taught that faith like a child was necessary to enter the kingdom of heaven. So we encourage and equip one another to grow together in faith as a family.
But, then thing is, kids and adults learn differently. What exactly does it mean to have childlike faith?
We can look to Jesus as our teacher, as He used stories and experiences to help His followers understand the kingdom of God.
We all love a good story, and the Bible is full of true tales of creation, adventure, love, intrigue, danger, and battles. Christ used parables to explain difficult concepts.
Our kids need stories. They need to understand what is historical and what is symbolic, such as parables or prophecy. Kids also need guidance to navigate pages of Scripture at an age-appropriate pace. See? Faith in God is meant to be a family affair.
Parents are a tour guide through the complex Word of God, building a foundation of understanding, beginning with the cornerstone that is Christ. Begin by telling the stories. The narrative of the gospel is captivating, and stories were made to settle into our memory and remain in our hearts at every age.
Kids also need experiences to help them grasp challenging concepts and to boost memory. Adults benefit from this learning style, too! Jesus not only demonstrated healing, but He involved the disciples in miracles, too. The bread and wine of the last supper became an object lesson to prepare for the crucifixion and resurrection. Not only would the disciple carry with them the memory of that night in the upper room, but the taste of wine and smell of bread likely brought them right back to those sacred moments. Our senses are powerfully connected to our minds by God’s design. And hands-on activity will reinforce a lesson much stronger than hours of lecture and note-taking. Of course, kids are hard-wired for activity, so it’s incredibly necessary to adapt to- and take advantage of- their natural energy and reach their hearts with the love of God.
So what might this look like?
Every family is different, so of course we all approach the word of God in our unique, fearfully and wonderfully made ways. But here are a couple of ideas for family devotional time.
god's perfect plan
Read together: Exodus, chapters 3 & 4, or find the story of Moses in a children’s Bible.
Think about a jigsaw puzzle. You don’t complete an entire puzzle at once, but piece by piece. You examine each part and focus on one area at a time. The edge pieces create the frame, while similar colors fit together. The top of the box acts as a reference, showing the whole picture and the final goal. And God works like that, too. He doesn’t give us a cross-country map, but step-by-step instructions. Sometimes He shows us the big picture, and other times, just enough so we know what to do with the pieces in our hand.
If God showed Moses the big picture, Moses would never have known how to go from baby-sitting sheep in the wilderness to leading a nation to the Promised Land. Yet, his shepherd skills trained him to baby-sit the Israelite “sheep” wandering the desert all those years. God’s perfect method guided Moses from a burning bush to negotiating with Pharaoh, and all the way to the revealing of His glory.
Look up this verse: Proverbs 3:5-6
Pray about it: Ask God for guidance and wisdom each day—and maybe even to see the divine “big picture” of the plans and purposes for each member of our family!
Find a jigsaw puzzle or a puzzle game on the computer and work on it together. Talk about how God shows us His plan piece-by-piece!
growing strong in faith
Being a follower of Christ is not always easy. Jesus told this story:
Read together: Matthew 13:1-9 & 18-23
- Is your heart like any of the seeds in this story?
- What seed do you want your heart to be like?
Look up this verse: John 6:35
Pray about it: Thank God for providing all our needs, and ask Him to continue helping each of us grow strong in our faith.
Buy a small plant, or plant some seeds in a pot (Target usually has them in the dollar spot). The whole family works together to care for the plant this week.
Answer these questions:
- What happens if the plant does not get enough water or sun?
- What things are like water and sun for our hearts?
- Who cares for us like we care for the plant?
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
How do you know if a tree is an apple tree?
(Because it grows apples!)
What about an orange tree? A grape vine? What about weeds?
Just like we know if a plant is good or bad, the Bible says you can tell what people are like by their “fruits”—what kinds of things grow from their hearts.
Do you know people who smile a lot? They have happy hearts. What about people who always help others? Or those who are often angry? What other “fruits” can you think of?
When we have God in our hearts, we grow “fruit of the spirit". And the more time we spend with God, the more the fruit of the spirit grows!
Look up this verse: Galatians 5:22
- Which “fruits of the spirit” can we see in our family?
Pray about it: Thank God for the “fruits of the spirit” in our lives, and ask that we show more of them each day.
As a family, make a fruit salad! Use one real fruit for each “fruit of the spirit” (for example, maybe strawberries represent love, oranges represent joy, etc.). See who can name all of the “fruits” from memory!
WHO ARE YOU?
Read together: Philemon 9-16
The name “Onesimus” means “useful”. This story doesn’t give us all the details, but how do you think Onesimus could have been useful to Paul?
Identity means “who you are”. Onesimus probably thought he was just a slave, but Paul calls him a “son” and later a “brother”.
- What is your identity? Son? Daughter? Sister? Father?
- Can it be more than one thing?
- Who do you think God says you are?
Look up this verse: John 15:15.
Help each other memorize this verse this week! Quiz each other, say it together, or make it fun!
Pray about it: Pray together as a family, thanking God for loving us and showing us how precious we are to God.
The name “Onesimus” means “useful”, but what does your name mean? Use a baby name book or internet resources to discover the meaning of each family member’s name. Parents, share the reasons why you chose your children’s names.
Stories and experiences bring us together as a family while God grows the Word in our hearts. They leave an impression that lasts, and these lessons will carry us through life’s challenges. They also reinforce a strong foundation of faith that is built upon as we begin to look a little more like Christ.
Malinda Fugate grew up in children’s ministry from the moment her pastor father plopped her down into the church nursery full of crayons and donated Fisher Price toys. Since then, it’s been a non-stop whirlwind of flannel board, VBS, and hand-motioned songs. After two decades of dedicated volunteer service, she now serves full time as the Children’s Education Director at a church in Southern California.
Malinda earned a communications degree with a theater emphasis from Azusa Pacific University, then worked behind the scenes at the Los Angeles Salem radio stations, including The Fish and KKLA. She lives by the beach with her two pups, Yoshi and Poseidon. When she's not writing or working at church, she's either creating art, reading, or exploring the many adventures to be found in the Los Angeles area.