One of my favorite childhood memories was the summer I learned 1 John 4:7-21.
There were 1000s of teens all gathered under a giant white tent on Panama City Beach to learn more about Christ. Each night before the speaker would preach, there was a series of skits. This particular year involved Bob, a broom dressed up as a person, and a few of the worship leaders. The skits were insanely crazy each night, with some involving Bob chasing one of the girl leaders around trying to get a hug.
I’ll be the first to admit that often we focus on entertaining people so much that we lose the value of what we came to share with them. But this was not the case with Bob. The leaders used the silly skits to drive home the principles they were teaching us from 1 John 4 about what it really looks like to selflessly love others in Christ.
And it changed me forever.
Over the course of my 18 years before college, there were countless sermons, special speakers, camps, and lessons. But the one I recall most is the silly little Bob skit that inspired all six girls staying with my counselor to memorize 1 John 4:7-21 and commit to loving others God’s way.
What does this have to do with kids devotions, you ask? Everything. Parents often tell me that family devotion time is a lost cause at their house. They tell me the kids won’t listen, sit still, or they simply refuse to attend.
But then when I dig into what families are doing, I find it’s largely because we are squashing the spirit and imagination of our kids. We are insisting that they sit straight and tall, sometimes even going as far as slapping their wrists if we think they have lost focus.
We have been trained to think that children are only listening to us if they are sitting straight and tall, looking us in the face. BUT – it’s not true. In fact, I’d argue that often kids who appear to be engaged are quite the opposite. Their minds are wandering and their hearts are eager for adventure.
Often, kids don’t like family devotions because they learn best through imagination, adventure, and exploration, all things we avoid when it comes to “spiritual matters.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we need smoke and lights along with an iPad game in order to help our kids love God’s Word. All I’m saying is… we need to RELAX a little. Let’s roll up our sleeves and laugh. Let’s ENJOY our time together as a family.
The good news is, God’s Word is FULL of imagination, adventure, and exploration. It’s not stuffy, boring, or irrelevant… unless WE make it that way. If we are willing to think outside the box, our kids will learn so much more about God’s Word. More important than that, they will learn to develop an authentic faith that inspires and drives them to want more of HIM!
Creative and Fun Kids Devotions For The Whole Family
Having a good time and obeying God is not an oxymoron! We can talk about our faith and even pray to God while laughing, singing, and even acting out a story. These are often the things kids remember years later even if they can’t remember a specific verse.
Use the ideas below to engage your kids with the Word. Then ask application questions, which will bring the conversation to a heart-changing level.
This is one of our favorites for the little people, but I find even the teens enjoy it. As you read the Scripture passage or devotional book, act it out. Have your kids get up and physically display the story or a part of the story. Role play what the characters did and/or what they should have done instead. Sometimes I use silly voices instead of acting it out physically. Both are super fun.
Pass it On
If all of your kids can read pretty well (usually ages 8 and up), this will be a great fit. Hand the book or Bible to the first person and have each member read a portion. We usually do one paragraph. Then they pass it on for the next person to read. I really prefer to read out of the same book or Bible for this, but you can each have your own if you wish.
What Do You Say?
This is another passing activity, but it involves words. I love playing it with teens (12 and up) the best because they can relate to the concept better than younger kids. They also are more willing to write. You can do this two ways. First, on a piece of paper, start retelling the passage or story. After you write one phrase or sentence, pass it to the next person (kind of like a chain letter). You can also answer questions or create lists of practical examples this way. One huge advantage of doing this is everyone has to stay engaged instead of relying on the other person to answer.
If you have a large family or a wide gap of ages, this is a great way to engage all of the kids. Instead of going with a middle level devotional, consider reading from a variety of levels, switching up the levels each day. Involve your teens with younger devotion days by having THEM lead it. (This is an awesome way to develop leadership skills.) On older devotion days, try having the littles act out the reading or say key phrases in funny voices.
Our family loves this activity. As you read the chapter, story, or lesson, have one child be your scribe. We hang up giant sticky note paper and take turns drawing what is going on in the passage. Kids have to pay close attention because they never know when they will be handed the pen and will need to take over in creating the picture. Drawing is especially meaningful as it makes God’s Word more concrete to children.
Another thing you can do with this is have each family member switch chairs after reading a paragraph, like musical chairs. This keeps everyone moving, but also listening to see when it will be time to switch. I also let the person who answers a question choose where they would like to sit next. (In our house, that’s always the lounge chair in the corner.) Once they answer the question, they can go to that spot and the person sitting there has to switch with them. Obviously, this is really good if you have young kids (especially boys) who need a lot of movement to stay engaged.
Outside the Box
On days when I’m rushed or perhaps even tired, this is my go-to because, well, it’s super easy. Instead of having devotions at the table, think outside the box. Have them UNDER the table, in a fort, or on the front porch. Have them on a blanket under the stars, in the backyard, or if you are in a super rush… perhaps have a child read while you are driving.
The Board Meeting
This may sound super boring, but kids LOVE to imagine they are living an adult life. So capitalize on that. Have a “board meeting” where each member reads the devotion before coming to the meeting. Once you get to the meeting, talk about key points, what connections they made, and ask application questions. You can even have someone take notes on the key points using your giant sticky note paper. Be sure you act very OFFICIAL, calling everyone by Mr. and Mrs. They will love it.
Which kids devotionals should I use?
There are so many amazing devotional resources that families often ask for a few recommendations. I personally want to use as much of God’s Word as possible. We do use other books, but only as a supplement to God’s Word. When looking for resources, I look for strong content with clear Scripture references. Bonus points if I’m required to get the Bible out to get the most from the devotion.
If you love the idea of a devotional book to help, check out these favorites by Tyndale Publishers. There is something for every age level, gender, and even some interests.
For kids under 7
The One Year Devotions for Preschoolers is simple, engaging, and full of color. I especially love the short and practical prayers.
Hands-on Bible 365 is chock-full of ready-made ideas for hands-on devotions using engaging activities and items you already have at home.
For kids 8-12
The One Year Between You and God comes in a soft teal leather-like binding, making it perfect for young girls 8-12. I also really like the page layouts in this one as it features questions kids have, application points, and Scripture.
For Girl’s Only wins my heart with its self-evaluations and practical application checklists. They are simple and age-appropriate, making them an excellent way to go deeper in God’s Word.
The One Year Devotions for Boys focuses on character building principles. Each day the boys are given a Scripture passage to read, then a story to help them apply the principle. The design is boy-friendly, but not too childish, making it an excellent fit for this age group.
For kids 12 and up
The One Year Book of Josh McDowell’s Youth Devotions is a daily adventure in making right choices. This devotional features a daily Scripture reading plus a “reflect, act, and pray” section focusing on helping teens to really THINK about their faith.
What’s your favorite devotional? Do you have a favorite way to do family devotions? Share them with us!