During the Advent season, our family has what we call an "advent tree" in which we put up a new ornament each day, in addition to reading a Bible story or passage of Scripture. We also usually sang a Christmas song and always ended our time in prayer. Jadon grew to love this time and would often ask multiple times throughout the day to put up a new ornament on the advent tree. After Christmas was done and I took down the advent tree Jadon was a little upset. Andy and I realized that this was a great opportunity to begin an actual family devotion time that we call "family worship". Here's what it typically looks like:
What It Is
- 10-12 minutes of time together as a family in the evening (after supper), usually on the couch
- Reading a story from the Jesus Storybook Bible
- Talking about the story and what we learn about God in this story
- Sing a song
- Close in prayer
This is an awesome time for our family to refocus and spend quality time together. It doesn't happen every night, but I'd say we usually have family worship 4-5 times a week. The funny thing is that when it slips our mind, Jadon always remembers. He looks forward to it! That's not to say that this time always goes smoothly and that our precious little toddler always cooperates. There are some evenings when it would definitely be easier to throw in the towel and be done with it, but we press on because we see the time as being so beneficial!
What It Isn't
Our family worship time is not a time for extreme structure, even though we pretty much follow the same routine each time. Changing up the location, who reads, who prays, and what songs we sing make each time unique.
This isn't a time for reinforcing good behavior or giving moralistic lessons. It's an intentional time of sharing our love for Christ with our son and teaching him about all that God has done for us.
Why We Do It
For some parents out there, a time like this may seem impossible to achieve. Our lives are so busy, schedules are filled, and people are tired all the time.
It may even seem overwhelming if you don't see yourself as being gifted as a teacher. Honestly, by using the Jesus Storybook Bible you are given a lot of direction for application. In fact, I often find myself challenged by the readings in this Bible. The writer of the Jesus Storybook Bible recently contributed an article on a well-known blog that addresses the challenges of teaching and applying the Bible for young children. You can read the blog post here. It's a very insightful article that really makes you think twice about how to apply the Bible to a life of any age.
Our church is great (and getting even better) at instructing children through God's Word from a very early age. We are so appreciative of that, and yet are very cautious that this is not the only or even the primary means of Jadon's biblical education. Andy and I desire to express our love for Christ and all that He's done for us to our son, and not just on Sundays but everyday. Our time of family worship is a great, intentional way to do that.
I would totally encourage you to not wait until you think your child is "old enough" to understand everything or sit completely still for the whole time. The sooner you start, the sooner both your child and you will begin reaping the benefits of this time spent in God's Word and in prayer.
~ Carrie ~