Life is busy. Your schedule is probably full of good things - and even some REALLY good things. That’s true for most people I think - which is why we rarely take inventory of our schedules to see if we are prioritizing the right things. Sadly, making time to read the Bible is one of the great things that gets replaced in our calendars by all the good things. We’ve spent the last few weeks encouraging students and families to spend time every day reading the Bible. While you may have to intentionally cut something out of your family’s schedule in order to make that happen, it’s a decision that you won’t regret. And maybe it’s a decision that you would like to make but you’ve struggled to find ways to do it in a way that doesn’t make your kids groan and/or roll their eyes.
When I was growing up my parents forced me and my siblings to do family devotions every morning before school and I can promise you there were plenty of groans and eye rolls and there were days where I completely tuned my parents out. But there were also a lot of great lessons I learned from our daily devotions. And, even more importantly than that, what my parents taught us was that following Jesus means carving out time every day to read the Bible and pray. It’s one of the only non-negotiables on the calendar. And I can honestly say I am so thankful for it. Daily family devotions instilled something in me that has never left and has had a huge impact in shaping who I am today.
So, if you’re looking for ways to engage your tweens and teens, here are some devotional options for you to consider.
If you don’t have the YouVersion Bible app, you need to get it. There are great reading plans (which is just another way of saying “devotions”) with a wide variety of topics. You can read the scripture and devotional content every day and discuss as a family. Or you can encourage your family to each choose their own plans and then discuss what you’ve learned. Or, when you start a reading plan, there’s an option to do it with other people, which allows everyone to following along and make notes right in the app.
The branding is kind of outdated so you may want to hide the cover from your kids - but the content is fantastic. Starting your day with this devotional might be worth a try!
When we were really young my parents read to us from a book called “Keys For Kids” (which, after a quick google search, is still available - so if you have younger kids you could check that out) and then when we got older my parents switched over to Our Daily Bread. It’s short and sweet but always has something good to chew on.
And here are some other Bible study thoughts to consider. (If you have more great ideas or resources, I would love to hear what your family is doing!)
1) The Bible Project brings the Bible to life through videos that tell stories, summarize sections and books of the Bible, and break down complex aspects of the Bible in a way that is easy to understand.
As a teenager, I loved doing studies in the Bible, cross-referencing different Greek and Hebrew words, as well as passages in different parts of the Bible. Back then my parents had to buy me a giant concordance with about a million pages but now you can get it all for free online. Biblehub allows you to do cross-references, see the same verse in different translations, find similar passages throughout various parts of the Bible, and much more.
3) Have Some Friendly Competition
My parents and I used to challenge each other to memorize scripture. It was fun and the verses I memorized back then continue to have an impact on my life to this day. Also, when I was in middle school my mom and I had a little race to see who could read through the Bible the fastest. She beat me by a full month but I felt pretty good about getting through the whole thing. It required getting up half an hour earlier every day and committing to over an hour of Bible reading per day but I enjoyed it so much that I read it cover to cover two more times over the next eight months. You may be surprised at how much your kids (or you) may fall in love with the Bible once you dig into it more.
4) Find Ways To Experience The Bible Through Fresh Eyes
Every year or two I change up which Bible (or which YouVersion translation) I read from. I find that it keeps things fresh. Here are three different Bibles that have good things to offer.
The Jesus Bible comes in either ESV or NIV translation and features great additional content from some of my favourite theologians. It helps the reader make sense of some of the confusing aspects of the Bible and explains how everything points to Jesus.
The Jesus Storybook Bible is written for younger kids, I believe, but it is a fantastic way for people of all ages to get to know some of the most foundational Biblical narratives. Another aspect that I love is the way the author helps the reader see how every story points to Jesus! You can get it on amazon or at the Oasis Bookstore (where it may possibly be less expensive).
NIV, Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Teen Girls is ready-to-color artwork, featuring thick white paper and extra-wide margins, leaving ample space for a teen girl to add her own creative illustrations or journal entries. This unique journaling Bible is a wonderful way for teen girls to take time out of their hectic lives to spend time meditating on God’s Word.
NLT Guys Life Application Study Bible is for guys ages 11 to 14, packed full of notes and features that answer the questions preteen guys have about God and life. The notes help them learn to think biblically about real issues they face, such as self-esteem, friendship, and peer pressure.
NLT Life Application Study Bible is a fantastic Bible for teens and adults - easy to read, and has great additional commentary. You can get it on amazon or at the Oasis Bookstore (where it may possibly be less expensive).
Ultimately, regardless of how “successful” your family devotion time feels, putting it on the calendar is the most important thing you can do. And keep in mind that telling your kids that reading the Bible is important probably won’t impact their life much; proving by your actions that you believe reading the Bible is an important daily activity, however, just may change their life forever.
Take care. Hope to hear from you soon!