Daily devotional readings are a common and popular part of the modern Christian walk. Countless devotional books have been published over the years, some even achieving near “classic” status, and you can even find desk calendars with a different devotion for each day. When working to grow our children in the faith, though, high quality materials can be more difficult to find. Many activities and resources, both at church and found in Christian book stores, are geared toward fun and entertainment, but can be light on the true lessons found in God’s word. It’s ok for church and children’s Bibles to be “fun,” so long as they are focused on the truth. As children grow and the Bibles become less about colorful stories and more about the true and living Word of God, many will fall away from regular attendance and participation. God’s word is sacred, and learning to have a relationship with him is the single most important thing any of us will ever learn. When children only see the entertainment value in God and church without understanding the spiritual truths, they scatter once they are old enough to lose interest in the fun and games. There is nothing wrong with incorporating fun activities in children’s Bible study, but the truth of God’s word must always be the focus. Daily devotionals are a great way to teach your children about the ongoing effort and blessings of a relationship with God, but it can be tough to find age appropriate sources.
That being said, there are good sources out there, and some specific things to look for. There is no denying that children have shorter attention spans than do adults, so devotionals need to be designed accordingly. Heroic tales are great for piquing interest, and the Bible is certainly full of them, but each of these stories is in the Bible for a purpose, to communicate God’s love for humanity and his ultimate plan for the salvation available to all mankind. Don’t tell the stories without teaching the lessons. One of my favorite children’s bibles that would also work as a devotional book is “The Jesus Storybook Bible”, by Sally Lloyd-Jones. Lloyd-Jones breaks the Bible down into short stories with captivating, beautifully done illustrations, and each story ends by connecting the individuals and lessons learned directly to Christ, the ultimate fulfillment of God’s plan and promises.
Books aren’t your only option, however. Activities built around sections and verses of scripture are also a good choice. Many kids love to act and participate in group plays, so let them act out Bible stories while being sure to follow up with questions about what they learn about how to follow God and to treat others. Giving them ownership of the lessons through their participation and creativity will help them to take pride in the things they are learning. A final option is the utilization of the many videos out there like the Veggie Tales series that use fun characters to enact biblical stories, while wrapping up each episode with what the moral lesson teaches us and how we can use God’s teachings in our every day lives. If somethings seems silly, or too easy (like watching a movie), that doesn’t mean that God’s truth cannot be communicated. Focus on the message, and you will find your kids growing in the Spirit.
Mimi Rothschild is a veteran homeschooling mother of 8, writer of a series of books called Cyberspace for Kids, and passionate advocate for children and education that is truly worthy of them. In 2001, Mimi and her late husband founded Learning By Grace, a leading provider of online Christian homeschooling Academies.