Last week, we talked about family-devotions/family-worship being an essential part of the parenting task to which God has called us. This week, I want to talk about the Christmas season as a springboard that can help us have momentum with family-devotions moving into 2024.
Here is the big idea: Christmas is unique. It comes with family traditions. Special events. And an extra emphasis on family. SO… we can use the unique season to launch us into 2024 as families that practice and prioritize family-devotions. In other words, Advent can give you the special time and space to practice the kind of family-worship that you want to become normal in your family.
Here are some basics:
1) Keep it short (especially at the start). That keeps it from feeling like a chore.
2) Pick a consistent time (my family likes right after breakfast). That keeps it from feeling like a surprise.
3) Have a simple plan. That keeps it from feeling unimportant.
4) Give everyone a part to play. That keeps it from feeling disengaged.
How Hard is it to Prep?
It is not hard. It doesn’t take long.
For Advent, I would suggest that the parents read the daily devotional in a book like this one privately BEFORE doing the family-devotional time with the kids. This will help the parents understand the background and be able to answer questions if needed. You should also pick an easy and short song ahead of time. It’s okay to do the same one for several days in a row. My kids are little, so we rotate through Jesus Loves Me, the Doxology, This Little Light of Mine, etc. But we will add some Christmas songs this season. If you are not comfortable leading this on your own, use your phone and have everyone sing along.
What is a simple plan?
1) Read. If you are using the Good News of Great Joy book, only read the Bible passage as a whole family (not the devotional portion). Share something that stands out to you about God, people, or life. Ask what stands out to your kids. Feel free to prompt them. (Throughout the year, if you do use another tool like the New City Catechism, Faith Builder Catechism, or Baby-Believer books, you will need to read more than just the Bible text, but that is no problem.)
2) Pray. We like to ask each person to say a short prayer. Sometimes this goes well. Sometimes it doesn’t. That is okay.
3) Sing. Sometimes singing is the toughest part… especially for awkward pre-teens. But Christmas songs in the Christmas season can help.pressure to sing on Day 1 or even in Month 1. Some families find that it is best to add singing after a few months. Don’t sink the whole concept of family-devotions because singing is a pain point at the start.
It doesn't need to be a big production and you don't need to be an expert. If you do it at all, God's Word will work (2 Tim 3:16-17, Heb 4:12). And when your kids see that family-devotions are important to you, that will have an impact on them as well. If you do this during Advent, you will have made great progress in developing a habit that can last a lifetime.
Curious about Advent? Our church has great resources here.
Want to shop for family Advent resources? Here is a good starting place.