Most parents agree that passing on their faith to their children is a top priority. Still, while many desire to have a family devotional time, some find it hard to talk to their kids about God and spiritual issues, try it anyway and end up frustrated. Others try using the lecture mode and find out their kids are unresponsive. These attempts seem to lead parents to the same place, asking the same question: "So what can we do that works?" Each family is different and it's unlikely that a "one-size-fits-all" method will work; however, experience has proved that kids are often more responsive to interactive methods, such as object lessons and discussions. With that in mind, here are four, object lesson-based family devotionals that I hope you'll find useful with your family!
#1 – The Cost of Commitment
The Main Idea: Commitment to Christ comes with a cost: your life.
The Scripture: Luke 9:23-25.
Materials: Eggs and bacon or ham.
The Devotional: Make a simple meal of eggs and bacon (or ham.) As you eat the meal, ask your kids which animal, the chicken or the pig, displayed the most commitment to provide the food. Clearly, the pig displayed the most commitment to produce the meal. The chicken had only to give up an egg. The cost to the pig was its life. Share that real commitment to Christ is costly. Read the Scripture. Discuss the topic by asking the discussion questions found below. Make the point that total commitment to Christ means that we give up ownership of our lives to Him.
1. Do your behaviors and actions reflect God's ownership of your life? If so, which ones? How do they reflect commitment? If not, why?
More Scriptures: 1 Chronicles 21:24; Luke 14:25-35; Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 3:7-10.
#2 – What You See is Not Always What You Get
The Main Idea: We can't always tell when people are hurting on the inside. God wants us to look beyond appearances and carry each other's burdens.
The Scripture: Galatians 6:2.
Materials: Two bananas.
The Devotional: Shortly before the devotional, carefully squeeze one of the bananas to mash the insides, bruising the insides without breaking the peel. The mashed banana will start showing dark spots on the outside pretty quickly, so be sure to do this right before the devotional. Show the two bananas to your kids. They will look similar. Open the good banana and display the inside. Then, open the bruised banana and show that it has been smashed on the inside. Emphasize that while the bananas look similar on the outside, they look quite different on the inside. Read the Scripture. Make the point that most people do a good job of keeping up the appearance that everything is fine with their lives. Still, the reality is that many people are hurting despite how they appear. (Give an example if you know of someone like this.) Highlight that God desires for us to carry one another's burdens – to support and encourage others when they are hurting. This often requires us to look beyond appearances and to invest in building relationships with others so that we can see what is really going on in their lives. Discuss the topic by asking the discussion questions found below.
1. How have others helped you when you have faced tough times?
More Scriptures: John 15:2; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Romans 15:1-2.
#3 – The Power of Bad Habits
The Main Idea: Repeating behaviors over and over turn them into habits and become difficult to change. God gives us the power to overcome bad habits and to set us free.
The Scripture: Romans 6:16.
Materials: A spool of thread and a pair of scissors.
The Devotional: Wrap a thread once around one of your kids' arms and body and tie the thread. Next, tell your child to break free, which should be easy to do. Then, wrap the thread three times around your child and tie it. Now, ask your child to attempt to break free again. It will be more difficult and some may not be able to do so. If you child is able to break free, continue the process of wrapping thread and tying it until he or she is no longer able to break free. At the point he or she is unable to break the thread, use the scissors to cut the thread and set them free. Read the Scripture. Make the point that bad habits are formed over time by repetition of behaviors, and sooner or later those habits become difficult to break. Share the encouragement that while it is best not to develop bad habits, God is able to set us free from them, similar to the way you cut the thread with the scissors. Discuss the topic by asking the discussion questions found below.
1. Does anyone set out to develop a bad habit on purpose? Why do we develop bad habits even when we know they are harmful?
More Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 6:12; Galatians 5:1; 1 John 1:6-10.
#4 – Words and Actions Reveal Your Heart
Main Idea: Word and actions reveal the spiritual condition of the heart.
Scripture: Luke 6:43-45.
Materials: A clear glass, half-filled with water.
The Devotional: Hold the glass up and pour some water out. Ask your kids why the water spilled. (They will likely say because you tipped the glass, etc.) Explain to your kids that the main reason water spilled out of the glass was because there was water in the glass to begin with. Make the point that similarly, our words and actions reflect who we really are on the inside. Read the Scripture. Explain that what is inside of us comes out. We can determine the state of our spiritual lives by what we say and do. Discuss the topic by asking the discussion questions found below. Point out that while no one is perfect, God wants us to continually examine our lives, to confess our sins and ask Him to forgive us, and to help us become more like Him.
1. Describe a time when you have said things or acted differently around family or your friends than you would act around your Christian friends. Why do we act differently around certain people? What does this tell us about ourselves?
More Scriptures: Matthew 15:18-19; Jeremiah 17:9-10; 1 John 1:8-9.