Not too long ago, I did a series about how we are approaching Bible teaching in our home. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). For the most part the ideas I described here haven’t changed much – we’ve found a good groove and good routines that are working for us. The notable exception to this would be that while we are still memorizing the Children’s Catechism, I have reverted back to memorizing longer Scripture passages rather than a proof-text for each catechism question - so we do a catechism question or 2 each week along with a longer Scripture passage, currently Romans 8:31-39. The other addition has been Sunday Reading.
I don’t talk about our ministry-life much on this blog, but I think most of you know that our family moved to Cameroon, in Francophone Africa, back in January after having spent all of last year in language school in France. While we lived cross-culturally in Papua New Guinea for many years before that, it was primarily in an English-speaking context. Attending worship services in a foreign language (especially one that you are still in the process of learning!) is one of those things that we are still struggling to get used to. Going to church has become important for language and culture learning and relationship building, but it is no longer the primary place where our spiritual needs are met. And if this is true for my husband and I, this is even more true for our children (whose French is even more limited than ours). We have been grappling with ways to continue to ensure we – and our children - are fed spiritually via other means. One of the answers to that has been a special Sunday evening reading time.
Instead of our normal evening family read-aloud from a Bible storybook, we take a little extra time to sing some praise and worship songs together (my husband plays the guitar) and do some special readings – one from a devotional resource of some kind and one from a missionary/Christian hero biography. Right now our devotional resource is Sally Michael’s book God’s Names which is EXCELLENT. I’m not a fan of children’s devotionals, but this one is really well done. The kids are enjoying it as well – Michelle asks me several times a week when we will read another section out of it. I was happy to see that she’s done a couple of others as well (God’s Promises and God’s Providence), so we may look into using those later. Leading Little Ones to God is another book I have on my shelf that we may consider when we are finished with this one. For our biography at the moment we are finishing up Missionary Stories with the Millers. When we are done with that, we have several of the Simonetta Carr picture book biographies as well as several volumes from the “Missionary Adventure” series to choose from. We were given the BBC Planet Earth DVDs for Christmas last year, and when we finish up early enough that the littlest ones don’t need to be sent off to bed yet, we enjoy watching one of these together. I think that sitting in awe of God’s creation is a suitable addition to a time of family worship, don’t you? (For what it's worth, these DVDs do have an occasional evolutionary reference, but it isn't a dominant theme and has either gone completely over their heads, or has given us opportunity to talk about it.)
This has been a wonderful habit for us to establish. It has helped fit in some of the “extra” things (such as the Christian hero readings that I’ve had good intentions to do for a while). It has given us an intentional family night together too, something that we have been inconsistent about at best. It takes the place of the “Sunday School” teaching that our children aren’t getting, and the English-language worship singing that my husband dearly misses. While I think that family spiritual input is important for everybody - even for those who are able to attend a Biblically solid church with services conducted in their mother tongue - being outside of our comfort zone in that arena has been the nudge we needed to take that one step further.
Do you do any kind of special reading or family time on Sunday (or any other evenings)? I’d love to know how others do it, and if you have any favorite resources to share!