Spending time in God’s word together brings light and life to your household because the home is primarily where Christianity is taught and caught. The family is a place where evangelism of the next generation occurs. The share-house is where much Christian encouragement and growth can take place. The married couple have the potential to form lifelong gospel habits and practices in their home.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:15–21)
Let our households be ones that make a melody to the Lord with our hearts!
The following household devotional habits were collected by surveying families who are already in the habit of doing them. If you’re struggling to build regular Christian habits into your household routine, hopefully this will be an encouragement and guide for you.
Those surveyed ranged from single Christians to Christian families with four or more children. Over 50% had two or three children, and around one sixth of those surveyed had no children. The age of children in the home ranged from newborns through to a 25 year old.
The ages of the people in your household will impact what and how much you can do during a devotional. If you have newborn triplets and you’re trying to have a household discussion like a share-house of university students, then it might be a good idea to change your expectations. Conversely, if you’re treating your household of teenagers like they still have the cognitive capacity of primary school children, then you should probably change what you’re doing to feed their growing brains!
The majority, around 50%, of households indicated that they held some kind of devotional during dinner time. 25% said they have a devotional at breakfast. 45% indicated that they do it at a different time of day, mostly before they themselves go to bed or just before their children go to bed. Some households chose more than one timeslot. This shows that there is no ‘right’ time, so be flexible with the time your household gathers to read God’s word, pray or read other Christian books. Still, since the majority of households do their devotions at night, that could be a good time for you to try first.
What each household includes in their devotional depends on their specific situation and capacity. Extra-biblical resources were often utilized to facilitate the devotion because it can be quite difficult to repeatedly come up with new helpful questions, or a reading plan, or songs.
Almost all surveyed regularly open the Bible with their household. Those who didn’t explicitly say this indicated that they read kids Christian books, but their responses imply that they do open the Bible. Some do this multiple times a day.
The households with no kids find it easiest to come together once or twice during the week to open the Bible with each other. The rest of the week they had their own devotional time.
Those with toddlers often read from a toddler-specific Bible or book before bed. Some are a little more creative across the day in how they open the Bible with their kids, often by singing Christian songs with them or through craft activities.
Those with primary-aged kids use more complex resources, such as catechisms, and try to foster some discussion about what they had read or thought about. Some still do this just before bed but spend a longer time compared to the toddler families. These households also generally sing Christian kids songs as part of the devotion.
Those with high school or older kids tend to have extended discussions about a particular Bible passage or topic. Some spend a reasonable amount of time praying together by sharing prayer points. These families also sing together, but select more suitable songs for the age bracket.
The variation amongst households confirms that your situation and capacity really dictate what you will be able to do. Most households don’t do complex Bible studies but use simple resources instead. Be encouraged by this, especially if you don’t think you’re very creative! These households value just doing something rather than coming up with the best thing.
Finally, here’s some direct advice from some of those surveyed for anyone who’s particularly busy.
“It's worth prioritizing Bible reading over other books. You could read smaller sections and meditate on a paragraph over a whole week. You could do it over breakfast or other meals, wake up 30 minutes earlier, and ask for suggestions from those around you.”
“For those with a crazy family schedule, you could do a devotional as a one-to-one special time before bed with one parent and one child.”
“Doing a little and often is always better than a lot occasionally, or even doing a little occasionally. Regularity builds habits.”
“Kids observe and interpret everything parents do. If the parents think family devotion time is important, the child will think it is important. One of the best things our kids can see is their parent reading the Bible.”
“Try and just do something at some point; no system is perfect but it’s worth a try! I know of one mum who reads her boys devotions in the car on the way to school (one of the boys reads while she drives) as her husband is not a believer and is at work early in the morning.”
Hopefully your imagination has been sparked! What could you do as a household?
There are many different things you could do as a household, lots of opportunities and creative ways to open God’s word together. And to help, there’s a huge range of resources to make it a fun and easy experience for everyone. The following non-extensive lists contain some of the resources recommended by those surveyed.
Bibles for kids:
General devotional resources
Family devotional resources
Recommended websites for kids books
Music to sing
This data was gathered during the 2020 Moore College Mission; see more resources developed during this mission.