This advent season of 2020, families have a unique opportunity to gather in their homes and prepare to celebrate the coming of the Son of God to earth in the form of a baby. One of the best ways to learn about Jesus and His incarnation is by reading God’s Word together. The inspired Scriptures were written to be read.
Moses instructed parents: "you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." Deuteronomy 6:7
When our children were young my wife and I read the Bible to them. As they learned to read themselves, we took turns reading aloud one chapter per day. At first we sought to gather a few times per week to study together. Eventually, our special times seeking to learn more about Jesus became a habit and we met almost every day.
Jesus promised that “where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20) After many years of continuing to meet, I can testify that God always came close to us as we came close to Him.
Here are a few tips we learned that I hope will help your family time to be successful:
God designed parents to be a team. Pray together and use your combined wisdom to determine the best time to meet and the best place to sit. If you have older children, include them in making a plan. Some families read at the dinner table. Others convene in the evening in the living room. A few sit on the trampoline while Dad reads. Siblings of a child who was confined to her bed suggested they all gather in her bedroom so the family could be together.
Keep it simple. As the husband, I took the lead in gathering the troops. Then, we opened with prayer. Our goal was to read a chapter of Scripture daily. During this advent season, consider beginning in Luke and following the birth and life of Jesus. Some of the early chapters are quite long, so consider reading half a chapter at a time. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching.” (2 Timothy 3:16)
When we first began our family worship times, our children were young and Sandi and I took turns reading aloud. When they learned to read themselves, we purchased several Bibles of the same version. Each person who was able read three verses, then it was the next person’s turn. We discovered that reading aloud added an extra dimension to simply reading. As John says, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear.” (Revelation 1:3) If you have toddlers, consider having them sit with Dad and Mom playing or drawing quietly. Even though they may not understand the content intellectually, they sense the impact of the eternal Words in their spirit.
Time is always a factor and some days were busier than others. If we had time after the reading, we took turns discussing what we had read by giving each person the opportunity to share one insight they had gleaned. One family had the children draw a picture representing the theme of the chapter. At the end of the reading they could share their artwork. Another family had dramatic children and they would produce a skit depicting the content of the verses covered that day while Mom and Dad applauded vigorously. Feel free to experiment and find your own flavor.
Time permitting, we also sang a hymn. Since we are in the advent season, this is a wonderful time to sing Christmas carols. Scripture and singing go hand in hand. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)
Close in prayer. Gathering together, with Jesus in our midst, was such a blessed experience. The atmosphere in our home was tangibly improved after these special times. On average, reading a chapter took about 10 minutes. If we included a hymn and testimonies, perhaps 20 minutes. Investing this short amount of time produced wonderful dividends.
The inspired the Word of God is to be read by people of all ages. I am continually amazed at how the Spirit of God can apply the same verses to speak new truths to each person, regardless of where we each are in our journey with Him. John says toward the end of his gospel: “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30-31)
Nowhere does the Bible say how often to read, or how much to read, but we are encouraged to teach God’s Word to our children. Since parents were designed for this role, God will bless any and all efforts to make this a part of your home.
Family Worship Resources:
I wrote a book called Family Worship. It is available as a paper back, or a free PDF which you can read, and also as an audiobook.
If you would like to incorporate singing into your family time, we have Hymns for Family Worship which has the hymn with the lyrics on one side of the page and the history on the opposite page. There are three Christmas Hymns: Hark the Herald Angels Sing #16, Joy to the World #19, and O Come All Ye Faithful #28.
Both of these resources were designed for families and I hope they will enrich your family assemblies. You can learn more by clicking here.
Steve and Sandra Demme have been married since 1979. They have been blessed with four sons, three lovely daughters-in-law, and two special grandchildren. Their fourth son has Downs Syndrome and lives with them in Lititz, PA.
Steve has served in full or part-time pastoral ministry for many years after graduating from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the creator of Math-U-See and the founder of Building Faith Families.