As we mentioned in the introduction to our How-To series, we will be sharing a new question each month with suggestions/ideas from sisters from different stages of life and geographical locations. We are not intending to present “one answer” to many of these questions, but instead want to make available a buffet of ideas to help individuals and families “Magnify the LORD” in their lives.
How to make the Bible readings a priority in your life and family
- Having a good night-time routine helps us make sure we place a priority on the readings (ie. dinner, clean-up, baths, readings, prayers and bed).
- I also do one of the readings with the children over breakfast, before they go to school.
- On a Saturday, we try and do a reading at each of the meals … instead of all in one sitting.
- Make the readings enjoyable … include different activities afterwards like questions, or acting parts of it out, or drawing something from the reading, or finding a key verse and decorating it.
- As a single sister I try and make the readings something I do as early in the day as possible, or it gets pushed further and further down the priority list as the day goes on.
- I try and find points that can be shared with other sisters to help keep the thoughts in my head throughout the day.
- Sticking to a routine is the biggest help to making the readings happen.
- We try to sit down to read as soon after dinner as possible, before everyone gets going on their activities for the evening. We strive to include all ages and to make it fun/helpful for everyone. Sometimes we play a game all together right after the readings to keep that family feeling of enjoyable time together.
- I try to complete the Know Questions of the Bible crossword from memory after doing the daily readings. As I do the Bible readings on my own each day, I find it makes me concentrate more on what I read.
- In general, as a mom, I struggle with keeping to a consistent routine/schedule. However, I try to pick the most important things to do with the family every day and make that part of our routine. This allows me lots of opportunity for flexibility while making sure we are filling ourselves with the word of God every day.
- We do one of the daily readings at each meal, either by reading it or listening to it. We always try to find a Christadelphian (or Biblical) song to listen to (or sing together) based on each reading. It’s not always possible, but we are often surprised at how many songs have been written from all over scripture. Usually at least two of the daily readings have a song (or more!) It allows an opportunity for worship as a family, while reinforcing the reading we just did.
- Sometimes we’ll let the kids listen while they draw a picture of what they hear. We do this usually when mom is home doing the readings with the kids alone, or if the kids have had a busy day. They love to share their drawings and explain them when we are done.
- My husband has recently created a nightly routine with the kids of reading the last portion of the daily readings to them by candlelight after they are in bed. They now hurry to get ready for bed instead of dragging their feet. Not only has it helped to give more exposure to the Word to the kids, but it has changed the nighttime routine into something more positive.
- As a widow who is retired from work, I do not have to worry about getting children out the door so I can choose to do my readings whenever I please but I prefer to do them as soon as I get up in the morning. It’s a great way to start the day and I recommend it.
- Set aside a specific time to read to each day.
- When the children were young, we used to clear the dishes and read at the table as soon as the meal was over – before everyone scattered! The structure of reading at the table helped the children who were learning to read, allowing them to follow along more easily and focus. If there was a very young one that needed to be put to bed, one parent would sometimes do that after the first reading, while the other parent carried on with another reading with the others.
- As the children moved into teen years with various schedules (part-time jobs etc.), we used to correspond during the day in our family ‘chat’ to determine what time we could all read together (positive use of technology!).
- Reading a manageable amount is also key – not all 3 readings is realistic at every stage. Choose what is manageable for the family and engage in a meaningful discussion.
- For a couple of years we followed a chronological reading planner, which was helpful.
- Routine , routine, routine! These are often a wonderful help for families to keep a busy family and ecclesial life in balance and harmony. Things like Tea, Dishes, Readings. Teeth, Toilet, Book, and Bed. You don’t have to have OCD to have organisation and routine. Routine still has plenty of room for spontaneity.
- We usually do the readings after dinner, but if dinner is delayed, my husband will call the kids to the table and do one (or more) readings with the kids while I finish making. We still get the readings in, and don’t push back bedtime! We know a family that always does the daily readings before dinner around the table and that seems to work well for them too.
- Doing the readings right after dinner is good. Make it work around appropriate age groups. Make it fun not a slog. Maybe have hot drink and cookies at times. We now have one older teen at home so we are watching Jesus of Nazareth together. Make it work so sometimes this might mean not following the Robert Roberts planner … sometimes it means just reading one book at a time.
- Bible readings should be like a meal – you simply can’t go without out it, unless very sick. So, as we would always make time for a meal, even if on the go, the Bible readings should be seen as an essential part of daily hygiene and daily bread. If we look at it like this, perhaps it will help us to include it in our lives. The Bible readings can be done in the car too, from a phone or other device as well as a paper Bible, and discussion can follow if you are on a journey.
- When the children were very little, we made sure to consistently do the Bible readings every night (excluding nights when we were at Bible Class or CYC). When you have a 2 year old, and then a 3 year old and a baby, and then a 4 year old and a one year old and a baby, that does not mean sitting and doing all three readings every night. What was important was the habit of sitting together and opening the word of God every night. At first, that meant sitting down as a family, opening our bibles, and getting through 5 verses. And in our home, that meant that unless the children were “babes in arms”, they sat with a book open on their laps. (Note: once the children were in bed, we would try to be sure to get more readings in for ourselves.) Eventually, we were able to complete a whole chapter with the kids! And then, after a few years, we could easily do all three readings.
- Have an agreed upon set time each day so that everyone in the family knows to make that time available. Do one reading in the early morning when our minds are alert.
- We once asked an older brother for any advice he could give on raising children. He answered quickly and confidently: “Whatever you present as normal to your children, will be normal. If doing the readings consistently and attending ecclesial events consistently is what you do, when the children grow up, that will be what ‘normal’ means to them.” So simple! And brilliant!
- The most important part was that the children knew that in the evenings, it was habit to sit together and read God’s word. And when we as parents had gotten busy doing something after dinner, without fail the kids would ask “what time are we doing the readings?” It was normal. And the best part was, we never had any of the children complain when we said: “Time for readings!” Because it was normal.
- Now as our children are quite a bit older, the time spent in the evening discussing the Bible readings is a wonderful part of the day. We are so grateful that even on the hardest days, and even on days when one parent was absent, we consistently sat and opened God’s word, even for 5-10 min. You will never, ever regret it!
For more Bible Reading ideas check out the following links:
Bible Reading Challenge – Activities and Extensions for each book of the Bible
Dynamic Bible Readings for the Whole Family – A summary of a class by Neville Clark with great ideas for Bible Readings
Bible Reading Templates for Adults and Children – Templates include a bookshelf chart to track which Books of the Bible are read, a comic strip template for drawing the Bible story from the readings, and several templates for thought questions.