As a parent one of our greatest desires is for our children to come to believe in Christ. Scripture emphasizes the crucial role that parents play in teaching their children about God and His salvation (Deut. 6:7). In today’s age, we often call this time of teaching our children: “family devotions.” There are often many challenges we face in this task: creating a consistent time in our busy schedule, finding a trustworthy and easy-to-use material, and how to teach and engage our children when the range of their ages and understanding are expansive, just to name a few. While it may seem that there’s a lot stacked against us, we must keep our eyes locked on the goal: nurturing a love for God and His Word in our children’s hearts.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed when we think about the seriousness of this task. There is a foundational truth that must drive our attitudes: no parent is able to give their child salvation. Salvation is a miracle that only God can work in a person’s heart. Faithfulness, not success, is the call of Christ’s disciples, and the same is true for parenting. When leading family devotions, it’s crucial that we’re checking our hearts, not boxes. Completing a week’s devotions doesn’t guarantee godly children, just as much as missing a day of Bible study doesn’t mean we’ve fallen out of God’s favor. Our goal should be to faithfully lead our families in becoming more like Christ through prayer and applying His Word.
But where do we start in leading our families in studying God’s Word? The wonder of the Gospel is that there isn’t a secret formula that each person must strictly adhere to. Instead, God gives us the freedom to apply His timeless, Biblical truth in a variety of ways that will allow for maximum impact in each of our own diverse situations. Before looking at a few different resources, let’s explore some guiding principles in the process of choosing how to lead your family in Bible study. It’s important to remember that the time you invest in preparing will directly correlate to the quality of the time in the Word. Think about it, if given the choice between Grandma’s homemade pot roast and mashed potatoes or an Easy Mac, which would you choose? Most of us would choose grandma’s cooking over macaroni that was prepared in less than 2 minutes. The same is true for the quality of our family devotions. You need to plan some time each week to prepare, but quality family time in the Word shouldn’t require 2 hours of prep each day. There are more resources and technology at our fingertips today than any previous generation before. With that in mind, here are a few resources we would like to commend to you with a brief description of each.
Fighter Verses App by Children Desiring God Ministries http://bit.ly/fighterversesapp
This app is a great way to memorize Scripture together as a family. It comes preloaded with 1000+ verses and give your choice of 7 different translations. Listen to verse songs and spoken verses (ESV) or record yourself reciting the verse. Configurable schedule for weekly memorization and includes six unique quiz types for different types of learners to help memorize Scripture.
Bible App by YouVersion http://bit.ly/youversionbibleapp
Over 1000 Bible versions and audio versions of the Bible which is great for listening while in the car or on the go. Includes thousands of devotionals and Bible reading plans, as well as many video resources such as clips from The Bible, the JESUS film, Lumo Project, & more.
Bible App for kids by Youversion http://bit.ly/youversionkidsbible
Through interactive adventures and beautiful animations, kids explore the big stories of the Bible. The Bible App for Kids is a delight-filled experience designed to encourage kids to return again and again. It’s designed with easy, kid-friendly navigation, colorful illustrations, touch-activated animations, engaging, interactive content that brings the Bible to life, fun facts and activities designed to help kids remember what they learn, and special challenges that let kids earn rewards.
Operation World Prayer App http://bit.ly/operationworldapp
Operation World, the definitive global prayer handbook, has been used by millions of Christians to pray for the nations. Now, with the mobile app, you can receive reminders to pray for the “country of the day,” discover information about every nation and engage with the praise reports and more in-depth prayer requests given for each country of the world.
Unreached of the Day App by Joshua Project http://bit.ly/unreachedapp
This app presents a photo, map, basic statistics, profile text and prayer items for a different unreached people group each day. Browse by country, people name or date. Expand your vision and passion for unreached peoples. Develop a heart to take the Good News of Jesus Christ to some of the least-reached peoples in the world.
Preparing for Christmas
Prepare Him Room: Celebrating the Birth of Jesus Family Devotional by Marty Machowski http://bit.ly/preparehimroomdevo
Christmas traditions become a treasured part of a family’s heritage, passed down from generation to generation. This four-week devotional guides your family on an unforgettable advent journey, exploring some of the most wonderful prophecies in the Bible and how God fulfills them in Christ. From Bible devotions which tell the Christmas story through the eyes of the prophets to an original Christmas short story called “Bartimaeus,” Prepare Him Room helps you build family Christmas traditions around Christ. The memorable and meaningful activities, songs, and stories of Prepare Him Room will become the fabric of your family’s Christmas memories.
What God wants for Christmas by Barbara Rainey with Janel Breitenstein http://bit.ly/whatGodwants
What God Wants For Christmas is the story of Christmas for little hands and little hearts. Open up the true meaning and wonder of Christmas in each box of this interactive nativity. Your child will journey to Bethlehem with the biblical character to experience that first Christmas. In today's age, it is important to hold onto the values and beliefs that inspired the true meaning of Christmas. This set includes 7 gift boxes for your child to open, kid-friendly nativity characters, a stable backdrop and stickers to create your own nativity scene. This book has been called the Elf on the Shelf for Christian households. Let your little ones experience the true wonder, meaning, and joy of Christmas on their own as they discover What God Wants For Christmas.
Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional by Paul David Tripp http://bit.ly/letusadorehim
The wonder and awe of the Christmas season can easily get overshadowed by lights, tinsel, bows, and paper―not to mention last-minute trips to the mall and visits to the in-laws. In all the hustle and bustle, we often lose sight of what’s most important. This book of daily readings for the month of December will help you slow down, prepare your heart, and focus on what matters most: adoring our Savior, Jesus.
Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent by John Piper - http://bit.ly/pipergoodnews
Advent is for adoring Jesus. It is a season of preparation for that special day when we mark Immanuel’s arrival — the coming of our eternal God in frail, human flesh. This is the greatest wonder of history’s many wonders, something too stupendous to celebrate just on one day. Advent is a way of lengthening the joy of Christmas. These 25 brief devotional readings from John Piper begin on December 1 and carry us to Christmas Day.
Toddler - 3 years
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones http://bit.ly/storybookbible
Jesus Storybook Bible tells the Story beneath all the stories in the Bible. It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby, the Child upon whom everything would depend. From Noah to Moses to King David, every story whispers his name. Jesus is like the missing piece in a puzzle—the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together. Children and adults alike will be captivated by the 44 beautifully written and illustrated stories in this bestselling storybook Bible. Perfect for young readers!
Read Aloud Bible Stories Volumes 1-4 by Ella K. Lindvall http://bit.ly/readaloudbible
"Read to me!" is a popular request parents hear from their children. What could be a better way to fulfill their wish than with a Bible storybook written and illustrated just for kids? This series includes four volumes and draws from both Old and New Testament stories. Each story is followed by simple application questions to teach children that the Bible is not just for long ago times, but for today, too.
The Big Picture Story Bible by David R. Helm http://bit.ly/bigpicturebible
No child is too young to begin learning about the greatest love story of all—God’s love for his people, as portrayed in the Bible. David Helm and Gail Schoonmaker have together created a colorful book of Bible stories written especially for children ages 2–7. Rather than simply retelling portions of the Bible, this book presents the big picture—the unified story running through the Old and New Testaments. Twenty-six stories together form parts of this big picture. Simply written and beautifully illustrated, this book teaches children the Bible’s whole story, so they can begin to appreciate the fulfillment of God’s promise to his people. The Big Picture Story Bible is perfect for parents to read to their children and for older children to read on their own.
Pre K - Elementary Age
Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God by Marty Machowski http://bit.ly/longstoryshortdevo
Long Story Short will help busy parents share with their children how every story in the Old Testament points forward to God's story of salvation through Jesus Christ. The gospel is deep enough to keep the oldest and wisest parents learning and growing all their lives, yet simple enough to transform the heart of the first grader who has just begun to read. Ten minutes a day, five days a week is enough time to pass on the most valuable treasure the world has ever known. Long Story Short is a family devotional program designed to explain God's plan of salvation through the Old Testament and is suitable for children from preschool through high school.
Old Story New: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God by Marty Machowski http://bit.ly/oldstorynew
Old Story New continues the gospel story that started in Long Story Short. Using the same effective ten-minute a day structure, it walks children through the great truths of the Christian faith in the New Testament. Through 78 New Testament stories, Old Story New does the hard work for parents and caregivers. Simple discussion questions (and answers!!) for each day’s devotion help children understand and remember Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and the birth of the Christian church. Old Story New is a family devotional program designed to explain God’s plan of salvation through the New Testament and is suitable for children from preschool through high school.
God's Mighty Acts in Creation by Starr Meade http://bit.ly/mightyactsincreation
Nature reveals majestic truths about God―truths that help us know him better. God’s Mighty Acts in Creation helps children recognize those wonders, and what they tell us about their Creator. As Starr Meade guides young readers through the six days of creation, she points to how creation displays the wisdom and power of God. Each reading includes a key verse, stimulating questions, and engaging activities, all geared toward elementary-aged children.
The Ology: Ancient Truths, Ever New by Marty Machowski http://bit.ly/theologydevo
A Page-Turning Storybook of Theology for Kids. In the cellar of the old stone cathedral, Carla and Timothy uncover a life-changing treasure, a carefully wrapped ancient book known as The Ology. So The Ology gives kids of all ages a beginner's theology book to help them understand who God is and how we, as his children, relate to him. Arranged within a traditional systematic theological framework, each truth in The Ology is also connected to the larger redemptive story of Scripture. The doctrine of God, for example, is presented in the larger framework of creation, where the attributes of God are on display and easier to understand. Designed for six-year-olds through preteens, this flexible resource includes built-in adaptations for use with younger or older children, so that entire families can enjoy it together.
Elementary age and beyond
Training Hearts, Teaching Minds: Family Devotions Based on the Shorter Catechism - by Starr Meade http://bit.ly/traininghearts
Teaching the Shorter Catechism has never been easier. This book of daily readings aids memorization by devoting six days and meditations to each of the shorter catechism questions. It explains the catechism in simple language, includes key Scripture readings, and takes just a few moments each day, allowing time for discussion and review.
God's Mighty Acts in Salvation by Starr Meade http://bit.ly/mightyacts
Paul taught the core truths of the gospel in his letter to the Galatians, and this collection of interactive readings for preteens applies those truths in understandable ways. Each reading begins with a key verse and then highlights one element of the gospel in everyday terms, followed by questions and activities that reinforce Paul’s teaching. Meade guides young readers to a full picture of God’s saving work, as well as a real understanding of other doctrinal concepts such as justification by faith alone, the priority of Scripture, the requirements for apostleship, and the relationship between the old and new covenants.
Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids by David Murray http://bit.ly/exploringthebible
Exploring the Bible leads kids ages 6–12 through the Bible one day at a time over the course of a year. For use alongside any Bible, this workbook will help them see the overarching story of God's Word and lay the foundation for a lifetime of discovering truths about God, humanity, and the gospel. Each weekly entry includes: daily Bible readings, prayer points, memory verse, discussion questions, and space for sermon notes and reflections.
Big Beliefs!: Small Devotionals Introducing Your Family to Big Truths by David R. Helm http://bit.ly/bigbeliefs
This devotional is comprised of three weekly readings accompanied by suggested Scripture passages which introduce and help simply explain thirty-three key theological concepts found in the Westminster Confession of Faith (included in its entirety, in modern English). Questions following each reading will help you start a conversation about what you have learned each day. This nonthreatening, encouraging devotional will make a comprehensive beginning to your child's understanding of Christianity's big beliefs.
Additional Resources for Older Teens & Adults
My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers http://bit.ly/myutmosthishighest
Read daily inspiration by Chambers that captured the heart of God in his teachings, and his straightforward yet profound wisdom.
For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word By D.A. Carson http://bit.ly/loveofGoddevo
This devotional contains a systematic 365-day plan, and D. A. Carson has written thought-provoking comments and reflections regarding each day's scriptural passages.
Comforts from the Cross: Celebrating the Gospel One Day at a Time by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick http://bit.ly/comfortsfromthecross
Comforts from the Cross provides bite-sized readings to remind women of their place in Christ and of his love in the midst of their busy lives.
Come to the Waters: Daily Bible Devotions for Spiritual Refreshment by James Montgomery Boice http://bit.ly/cometothewaters
This year long devotional distills Boice’s teaching into 365 readings from Genesis to Revelation. A topical index and a Scripture index allow you to tailor your own reading plan.
Holiness Day by Day: Transformational Thoughts for Your Spiritual Journey by Jerry Bridges http://bit.ly/holinessdaybyday
This is a one-year devotional from Navigator author Jerry Bridges. This quick daily read is full of inspiration, commitment, and transformation for men and women to grow in spiritual maturity.
New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul David Tripp http://bit.ly/newmorningmercies
365 Gospel-Centered Devotions for the Whole Year