A few days from now I will have completed my goal of reading the entire Bible in a year. I have 4 days left on my Bible Reading Plan App, intuitively called "Bible."
I say 1-year but it's taken me a year and a half to get here. Thankfully you can "catch-up" if you get behind and it resets things so you are not behind.
I have read the entire Bible before. This is not new. This is something that I've done ever since I truly started to invest in my relationship with Jesus back in college. It was, and is, a healthy routine.
A routine just means something you do regularly and with some intentionality. Maybe you can think of a few examples in your own life. Setting up routines in our lives' can be very good, but they can also downshift a few degrees into ruts if you let them.
THE FIGHT AGAINST ROUTINE
Our family was members at The Village Church for 7 years and I served on the music team once a month. One of the many things that I remember most is our prayer times before services. Those men and women, led by my good friend Michael Bleecker (check out the churches music here) were so intentional about going before the Lord and asking him for help.
One of the most common prayers I remember would sound something like this,
"Lord, please do not let this be routine for us. Most of us have played these songs a million times and this is our fifth service this weekend. Please do not let this time be just another worship service. Let us experience the truth's of these songs like it was the first time."
I believe, even at four or five services, that these prayers were answered and what was memorized and planned became infused with life and power.
OUR FAMILY ROUTINES
It's not much different when it comes to our families. Gathering together with your family for devotions can become a rut if we let it. Just a ritual that we do just because. If we don't protect our family devo times, they can (and will) start to feel like dead routine. I'm speaking from experience...remember I was the annoying 'family devo guy.'
Here are ten ways to keep your family worship times from becoming a dead routine.
1. START WITH YOUR OWN PERSONAL DEVOTION:
The reason I start with this one is that I truly believe this is the primary thing we must do. We can lead a devotional or go to church when we are not walking close with the Lord, but you will burn out quickly. And what is the point in leading and guiding your family if you are not doing it yourself. And what better time, than with the family, to admit you are struggling to pursue the Lord personally and ask for prayer. It's the perfect time to confess your need for the gospel.
Make your family time an extension of your personal time. It will make all the difference in the world.
2. PLAN IT OUT
So many things fail in life because of a lack of planning. Do you know when how often this week you will have a family worship time? Do you know where you will normally have it? Do you know when? Will be after dinner, before bed or during the day? You must talk about these things with your spouse. Or if you are a single mom, write out your plans on paper. Set goals and get a plan. What will you read? A book? A verse? A paragraph?
Truth is, it doesn't take much planning. Maybe less than five minutes. But be clear about this with your family and you will achieve much more than you thought you could. (And if you need a simple guide you can follow our Daily Devo series each week for a free READ, PRAY, SING model, all laid out for you to follow).
3. VARY THE SETTING:
Sometimes we have our Devo time at the dinner table. This keeps Charity (2 1/2) contained a little more in her high chair. Sometimes we have it on the couch after bath time. Sometimes we gather up on one of the kids beds just before bed time. I've actually been thinking about taking the fam on a walk or something and doing a Devo at the park together. Could be fun. Point is, mix it up. Have a regular thing you do, but then breakout of that periodically.
4. GET PARTICIPATION:
By participation I don't mean a skit or anything like that. I think as a family reading the Bible and talking about it should be enough, but don't let this time be a monologue and please NO SERMONS! :) If you, the dad or mom, read the Bible maybe have your spouse read it tonight. As you are reading ask questions to stimulate conversation. Involve your family any way you can.
5. REMEMBER THE BIG PICTURE:
This means that you remember that leading your family is not something that you do just to mark it off your check list. This is a life long process of pursuing God as a family. You will burn out so quickly if you think it's all about the day to day moments. Those are important but remember this is a long process. And remember it's ok to fail at family worship . We all do! Think long term and trust the Lord's sanctification process in your life and the lives of your family.
6. VARY UP THE MATERIALS:
I think this is really important. I always recommend using your actual Bible to read the passages (as opposed to a Bible App or something else). But we'll mix it up and do an interactive Bible story through the Bible App we have sometimes and the kids love that. And it still gives us things to talk about and questions to ask. Sometimes I get my guitar to sing a song with the fam, sometimes we just go A Capella and lately we've just been singing the family devo tunes by clicking on the Sound Cloud link at the bottom of each Daily Devo.
Keep it fresh, mix up the materials from time to time.
7. INVOLVE OTHERS:
This has happened on a few occasions and I honestly would love to have it happen more regularly. Sometimes when we have friends over or family we ask if it would be ok if we all did a Devo together. This has gone pretty smooth every time. We don't do this with our non-Christian neighbors (would be really awkward for sure...) but with friends and family that we know value that and know that we value that we may do it.
8. BE CLEAR WITH YOUR SPOUSE:
If you and your wife or husband are on the same page with how you will disciple and train your family, there is no better place to be. It's really all about communication. Even when I take 2 seconds to ask Angela, "hey do you want do our Devo after dinner in a bit," it goes so much better than me just saying "hey let's have our devo." The clarity between you and your spouse is so important. It will keep it from the rut when you are a team.
9. RELAX AND ENJOY THE RESPONSIBILITY
Responsibility sounds sound weighty or important or stoic but I use the word enjoy because there must be a relaxed nature about it if you want to keep it from a dead routine. Yes God has asked us to train up our children and lead our wives but we must ebb and flow and understand that sometimes it's going to go well and sometimes it's going to be nuts. Trust the Lord, relax about it. You don't have to be a scholar to do this or a pastor. Just a regular dude (or dudette).
10. ASK GOD FOR HELP:
This is number ten but it should be number one probably. Ask God to keep it from being routine. Ask God to make fresh each time you open the Bible. I dare you to ask God to lead your family discussions. What does he want to say? Just say that. Rely on God for everything, through prayer. Remember my example of the prayer of the band before the services at the Village? That's the key. Yes, do all the other things, but the key is to come before the Lord in honesty and ask him to help. He will not leave you alone to figure it out. His Spirit is real and will help the kind of person that humbles himself in prayer before the Lord.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Is your Family Devo/Worship time in a rut? Does it feel stale? I hope that I've given you some ideas to freshen things up. Let me know what helps you when you get into a rut or routine? If you would like a free guide every Monday make sure you are signed up on the Email List.
Josh Walker (@joshdwalker) is the co-founder and owner of One Fifty Media House, a Houston, TX based Audio and Video Design Team. He is the writer and author of music products such as Family Devo, Grammar Time and Hymns For Selena. He is married to Angela and has two beautiful children: Nathan and Charity Joy.