Family devotions are hard to perfect. Find tips and formats for easy family devotions that are realistic and adaptable to your family. Read more.
We sat at the table, Bibles open, poised and ready for the picture-perfect family devotion that I had conjured up in my head. Imagine angelic music and neatly groomed and well-mannered children all lovingly engaging in deep biblical conversation with their siblings.
Of course, you have to imagine it, because that is NOT at all how it went. Honestly, that’s not at all how it EVER goes. There’s often someone who just got out of bed, someone arguing with their siblings, or someone who asks a completely unrelated question about pickles. Can you relate?
To prove my point, here’s some real footage from our family devotions last week…
I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but the picture-perfect family doesn’t exist. Like, nowhere on the planet. Every family has struggles. Every family has weaknesses and arguments and difficult seasons, which means the perfect family devotion doesn’t exist either.
So before we make a plan for easy family devotions that will actually work for your family, we have to start by getting the crazy pictures of the perfect family out of our minds and simply decide to be purposeful!
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Why Bother With Family Devotions?
If the journey is difficult and our families will likely never have that picture-perfect devotion we are after, why should we bother having one in the first place?
I think this is a fair question. Whenever something doesn’t seem to be working in our family, that’s the first thing I ask myself. “Is this thing really worth the cost of making it work?” Or, “Do I really have a purpose for doing this?”
In the case of family devotions, I think the answer is a big, huge YES! There’s so much value in gathering around the table with the common goal of discussing God’s Word.
Of course, there is spiritual benefit as we glean from each other. Iron sharpens iron. Good conversation about God’s Word is helpful for each family member—even if the person sharing is younger. I can’t tell you how many times God has convicted my heart with something one of my children shared during family devotion time.
Another huge benefit of family devotion time is something you won’t see or even know for sure until your kids are grown. Spending time together discussing God’s Word builds the kind of family unity we all desperately long for … even if they tie their hair in a tin bucket (haha).
Seriously, even though you think they aren’t listening, your heart hurts from the teenage eye roll, and you’ve lost your cool more times than you want to admit, the effort you make in having a family devotion will not return void.
They’ll remember these moments, and they will cherish them. Even better, it will likely spur them on to create the same priorities in their own family someday. Don’t give up, my friend! It’s worth the struggle.
4 Tips to Help You Have Easy Family Devotions
Start small and stay simple.
Another key strategy for easy family devotions is to start small and keep it simple. If you have never had family devotions before, don’t commit to an hour-long, seven-days-a-week schedule. You’ll likely fail the first week and simply give up.
Make your family Bible study time appropriate for the various ages of your kids, the lifestyle you live, the time you have available, and the spiritual maturity of your family.
If you’ve been doing devotions a long time, it’s probably a great idea to increase the length. But if you haven’t, start with 10 minutes and work your way up.
Also, be sure you keep your time simple. You don’t need fancy materials or lofty theological topics to discuss. Be real. Talk normally. Grow in knowledge together!
One word of caution: steer clear of resources that DON’T lead you back into the Bible. Your kids need to see God’s truth as written because it’s the foundation of their faith. Resources are great, just make sure you are opening the Bible every day!
That’s the goal of all the Bible studies we’ve created. So if you’re looking for a great place to start, check out the Not Consumed family Bible studies.
And if you’re looking for a simple family devotional to get started with, check out our FREE family Bible study. There are even different levels for each member of the family!
Toss out perfection and go for progress.
I think we’ve already safely established that perfection is likely never going to happen, but that doesn’t mean we should throw in the towel and stop trying for family Bible study. When you think about having a family devotional time, resist the urge to picture the perfect scenario and be realistic about where your family is currently.
For example, if you have four kids ages 10-18 and you’ve NEVER done a family devotion before, don’t expect them to understand the purpose or see the benefit. Don’t expect deep discussion or answers that don’t match up with where your kids are spiritually.
Instead, look for progress. Aim to get a little better each time. Celebrate the small wins, even if it’s “the teenager only rolled her eyes once instead of 10 times.” Of course you want to get to the place where she LOVES this time, but that won’t happen overnight.
Thank God for the little wins and look forward to the ways He is working in your family.
Know your role for easy family devotions.
We know it’s important to have a family time devoted to God’s Word, but we should be careful NOT to trump each family member’s OWN personal time with God.
Sometimes families fail to teach a personal quiet time and substitute the family devotion instead. This is definitely a bad idea. Family devotions are a stepping stone to personal devotions because faith is something each person must decide for themselves. You can read more here about devotions for kids.
If we want our kids to take ownership of their relationship with Christ, it’s important that we encourage them to actually have that individual, personal, not-with-Mom-or-Dad relationship.
Remember the old proverb? If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. If you teach him to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime. Don’t cheat your kids out of a personal relationship with Christ by substituting a family devotion. If you do, they will never learn to “fish” (read the Bible) on their own and quite possibly will walk away from YOUR faith when they are older. If your child doesn’t already have their own Bible, we have some wonderful kid-friendly Bibles that would make a perfect gift or a beautiful study tool for them.
Here’s the hard truth: each person must choose to follow Christ on their own. No amount of talking, teaching, or coercing can FORCE that decision for them. Kids have to be motivated to choose it for themselves, and it’s difficult to do that when you see God as something your parents do “for you” instead of a person you have a relationship with yourself.
Think of yourself as the tutor, the guide, the encourager. You’re not here to force things or mandate things. You’re here to come alongside your child with great advice, guidance, and encouragement.
One way to really make this idea shine is to actually avoid doing ALL of your family Bible study together. When kids who are old enough to read the Bible themselves are invited to do so, you’ll be amazed at the wisdom they come back with!
Your family devotion discussions will get WAY better, and your insight into how you can truly come alongside your kids will become much clearer. (More on exactly how I make this work in the format below!)
Find a format that works for all ages.
One reason families get so frustrated with family Bible study is they are trying to talk high-school-level theology while two-year-olds are stuffing goldfish down their diapers.
I don’t know where we get the idea that a “family devotion” is what makes or breaks the Christian family. That’s nonsense. Technically, there really is no such thing as a “family devotion” in the Bible.
We are told to read God’s Word, pray, and praise Him. But nowhere does it say that it should look the same way for each person or that we must do all of that corporately as a family!
I’m not saying a family devotion time isn’t valuable; I think it’s a HUGE part of discipling our children in the Christian faith. But the exact format of this time is going to ebb and flow as our kids grow and change.
If you pick a format that works for another family, you might be missing the needs of your own! Don’t fall into the comparison trap. What’s right for your family is what will actually work given the variables you have.
If you have all littles … meaning children who can’t read the Bible on their own, ALL of your Bible time will naturally be together. This is because they can’t actually read yet. This is a precious time you don’t want to miss because you are setting the stage and modeling a format they will use when they get a little older.
If you have all bigs … meaning all of your children read well and are capable of having their own quiet time, it’s time to stop reading TO your kids and preaching AT your kids. Let them take the reins and share things they are learning, teach others, and, most importantly, cultivate the personal relationship they will need with Christ once they leave home.
If you have a mix … don’t fear, you aren’t alone. Most of us have a mix of children, which means we need a mix of both the strategies I’ve listed above. But note that your conversations need to take all ages of your kids into account. Be flexible with your little ones and considerate of their attention spans. If your age gap is wide, I suggest letting the little ones do something else after a few minutes so you can engage deeper with your older kids.
Let’s take a look at our simple formula to help illustrate what this might look like.
A Simple Format For Family Devotions
In our family devotions, we don’t do deep theology. The kids don’t sit around in a circle with interested looks on their faces while I detail the Greek meaning of theological words. It’s not like that. Ever. Instead, we focus on meaningful ways God is teaching us in our personal time with Him.
Remember, the family devotion is a stepping stone to quiet time. When my kids were under age eight and not quite reading strongly enough to read the Bible on their own, I would read to them. As they got older, I taught them how to have their own quiet time.
If you have a mixture of kids of a variety of ages, you can send the older ones off, and then work with your younger kids. Once everyone has finished, you can meet and discuss what you are learning.
It’s not necessary to all study the same topic, but it is fun when you do. I simply open the discussion with, “What is God teaching you in your quiet time?” Then I let the kids take the lead.
It’s incredible to see how God is teaching them. And it’s really precious to watch them rise to the occasion of being “invited” into this discussion instead of forced to listen to something and tuning out.
This invitation is super motivating even for the reluctant children, as everyone desires to make a valuable contribution to the discussion. Not all of your kids will follow through and actually do their quiet time each day, but when they know they can expect the discussion, it will motivate them to be as consistent as possible.
After our discussion, we will also pray together using the JOY prayer cards. It’s a great way to address prayer requests in our own family as well as our church or country. Sometimes we end our time in the Bible by singing together. But we keep it super simple. Rarely do we use any instruments, and honestly, half the time we’re a little off-key. But it’s a joyful way to end our time together.
After we’ve finished talking about God’s Word and what He’s saying to us, we take a few minutes to discuss family matters. It may mean we talk about what’s on the schedule today or chores that need to get accomplished. We could even talk about friendship struggles or family disagreements. The idea is to allow God’s Word to inform all aspects of our lives.
Family devotions don’t have to be complicated to be meaningful. They can be simple, which means they will be sustainable. The more simplistic they are, the more likely our kids will continue spending time in God’s Word as they get older. And isn’t that one of our main goals?
Get Help Teaching Kids How to Do Devotions
If you’d like a little extra help with teaching your kids how to do devotions on their own, check out my Kids Devotional Method course! It will give you all the tools you need to equip your kids to spend time in God’s Word on their own!
What about you? Do you do family devotions? What has worked for your family?
Through practical tools & Bible-based resources, Kim Sorgius is dedicated to helping your family GROW in faith so you can be Not Consumed by life’s struggles. Author of popular kid’s devotional Bible studies and practical homeschooling tools, Kim has a master’s degree in education and curriculum design coupled with over 2 decades of experience working with kids and teens. Above all, her most treasured job is mother and homeschool teacher of four amazing kiddos.