For families who want to grow together in both their likeness to Christ and the knowledge of his truth, time in God’s Word is essential. Our children need to be direct to the Word of God within their home, not just at church. Fathers bear the ultimate responsibility to ensure this happens (Eph. 6:4)! But this important habit of family life isn’t easy to make a reality.
The challenging search for effective tools
If you are like me, it’s hard to be consistent in leading your family in daily Bible study and family worship. Life is busy, and we need all the help we can get. I’m thankful for the regular prodding of the Holy Spirit to continue to be faithful in exposing my kids to the Word in our home, but knowing what tool to use and what is effective is a challenge!
It’s not for lack of options! One brief online search produces a plethora of studies and guides. While a large pool of potential resources is a good problem to have, selecting a resource can be overwhelming. Matching resources to the age of our kids isn’t always straightforward. Weeding through reviews can be time consuming (if reliable reviews are available at all). The means to properly vet source organizations and publishers can prove to be elusive.
Recommendations from trusted friends and leaders are great places to start. That’s how I came across the resource I’m advocating here. A missionary friend of mine expressed gratefulness for this series as he used it with his own children. I had been praying for direction on what to begin with my own children and was thrilled to find it! Since getting our hands on a copy, it has proven to be an outstanding fit for my family.
Before being introduced to the Family Worship Series, I was not familiar with Bible Visuals International. BVI has its roots in Child Evangelism Fellowship (the organization that oversees hundreds of Good News Clubs in elementary schools all around the country) and was founded in 1959.
Over the decades BVI has developed an extensive collection of visual aids for Bible teaching to children. A brief perusal of their website reveals dozens of tools in various forms, and I do not have personal experience with most of those resources.
I do, however, readily direct you to their Family Worship Series. Since this is a relatively new resource, only two studies have been completed: one on the Book of Mark and one on Philippians. My family purchased Mark’s Gospel: Being Jesus’ Disciple, which is a collection of 47 individual lessons that guide your family through the entire book verse by verse. Philippians: Have This Mind provides 26 more lessons in a similar format. I have found the format of these studies to be a perfect fit for my elementary age children (ages 10 and 8).
Daily variety and structure
Each lesson covers a two-page spread. The first panel features a full-page illustration that accompanies the passage. These illustrations are well done and captivate the younger children while the passage is read. The second panel features the content of the lesson itself, which is organized into 4 sections:
- Read: The guide presents the section of Mark that your family will be studying that day. I have two budding readers in my household, so I often ask them to read the passage, which varies in length from a few verses to larger chunks.
- Talk: The guide then presents a collection of talking points about the passage, guiding your family through the entire passage in a discussion-based format (see below).
- Pray: The guide provides a written prayer that reinforces the truths of the passage in timeless and applicational language while also directing your family to ask for God’s grace to apply. Often, instead of praying the prayer as written, I rephrase the prayer text as further instruction and then lead in prayer in my own words afterwards.
- Sing: This is a great feature! At the conclusion of each lesson your family is directed to pages in the back of the book, where songs are printed that reinforce the truths in each lesson. The songs are presented in hymnal form, and most are well-known hymns in the public domain. In some lessons, other modern hymns that your family may know are suggested in addition to the printed hymns. Chords are included for guitar accompaniment. A QR code printed in the guide will direct you to further online options to enhance your family singing time.
Many lessons provide an additional section called “Extra Time”, suggesting ideas for additional exercises or passages for further study. The entire process each day takes about 20 minutes for my family (not including the “Extra Time” exercises) and is time well spent.
A discussion-centered approach
Many children’s study guides are structured around a passage of Scripture to read and a brief section of text for the parent or teacher to read while the children listen. While this can certainly be effective, engaging the children in discussion on the passage can enable more involvement and retention.
Each lesson in the Family Worship Series centers on interactive study between parent or teacher and child. In the “Talk” section mentioned above, the lesson guides the parents through that day’s passage, both with statements of teaching and open-ended questions to ask to get kids to think and respond.
For example, we recently worked through the lesson on Mark 4:35-41, where Jesus calms a storm on the Sea of Galilee. While it is obvious why the disciples were afraid of the storm, verse 41 tells us that they were filled with great fear after Jesus had calmed the storm too. The study guide directed me to ask my children why they were still afraid and how that fear was different from before. This opened up a brief discussion about a proper reverent fear of God—particularly of God the Son, who is powerful enough to calm a raging sea!
The features and approach presented in these studies have been a blessing to our family. From a parent’s perspective, I’ve even found myself creatively expanding on the discussion because it gets me thinking too! The “Extra Time” feature has motivated me to find even more creative ways to expand the truths they are learning. For the younger kids, coloring pages can be purchased separately to accompany both the Mark and the Philippians studies.
I am so thankful to have found this resource; the only downside is that the series only consists of two studies for now. I intend to contact them and encourage the production of more studies in this series; I hope you’ll join me in doing so! Either way, these two studies will provide your family with several months’ worth of worthwhile study of the Word together.
Growing Fathers Team
Chris serves as an assistant pastor at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina, with a particular emphasis on the youth and on church-wide edification. He and his wife, Laura, have two children—Patrick and Kinley.View all posts by Chris