Statistics tell us that many youth fall away from the church within a year after confirmation. While it was once thought that many of those same youth return to regular worship attendance in their late twenties or early thirties, current research shows that once young people drift away from the church, it is highly likely they will not return.
What can be done to reverse this alarming trend? The answer lies in the means God has given us to strengthen faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. This trend can be reversed as we gather around His Word and Sacraments.
God has given parents, especially fathers, the task of bringing up their children in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). What follows are some very practical advice and suggestions regarding family devotions.
It is good to have a set time each day for family devotions. For many families the time right after supper works best. For those families with busy evening schedules, a time in the morning or at bedtime might be better.
Secondly, the material you’re using must be age-appropriate. Many parents have learned the hard way that devotions without pictures do not hold the interest of little children as easily as devotions with artistic illustrations.
In the third place, while devotions don’t have to be “fun,” it is wise to find some ways for the children to participate in the devotion time to make sure they understand the story or the teaching at the center of the devotion.
Here are some recommended books that can be used during family devotion time:
- A Family Treasury: Classic Bible Stories; Standard Publishing, 1998. 75 devotions; 1 picture per devotion.
- The Illustrated Children’s Bible; Octopus Bks., 1980. 145 devotions; 1 picture per devotion.
- Egermeier’s Bible Story Book; Warner Press, 1969. 280 devotions; 1 picture for every 5 devotions.
- Jesus, Our Family Guest; Northwestern Publishing House, 2006. Works best for children in the 7–18 age range; no pictures. Written by Joslyn Moldstad, wife of ELS president.
- At Home with Jesus; Northwestern Publishing House, 1992. Works best for children in the 7–18 age range; no pictures. Written by Joslyn Moldstad, wife of ELS president.
- An Explanation of Dr. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism; ELS, 2001. Parents will need to work at bringing the content down “to the kids’ level,” but this is a great way to instill the main teachings of God’s Word and get them ready for confirmation class.
- Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary; ELS, 1996. At the Brooks’ home we sometimes work at memorizing hymns during our family devotion time. We might do this especially with Christmas and Easter hymns.
- In the months of November and December we work on memorizing lines and hymns for the Children’s Christmas service.
Devotional Recommendations for Adults
- Meditations; Northwestern Publishing House. I like these because there are scripture, a devotion, and a prayer—all within 5 minutes, with optional further reading in the Bible if you have more time.
- Laache’s Book of Family Prayer; Lutheran Synod Book Company, 2000. These are daily devotions that are loosely based on the three readings that you would have heard in church the previous Sunday.
- The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel; Concordia Publishing House, 1986. Written by C.F.W. Walther, this is a “must read” for any serious student of Lutheran theology.
- Any biography of Martin Luther (I’m sure some can be found at the library) will help you grow in your understanding and appreciation of God’s Word.
Reverend Matthew Brooks
Faith Lutheran Church
Pilgrim Lutheran Church