Seeing a child’s eyes light up as they grasp a truth from the Bible for the first time is one of the joys of children’s ministry, whether you’re a parent, godparent, grandparent, family friend or Sunday school leader. The hard bit, as many parents will tell you, is making time for God’s word as a regular part of family life so that these lightbulb moments can happen.
There are several models available to help families get into reading the Bible together. Bible Bites by Ladeane Lindsay is a great resource that takes families through a whole year of devotions, with a short Bible passage to read, followed by opportunities to talk about the passage, and activities to deepen learning and assist with Bible memorisation.
The 555 Challenge is another home discipleship resource that helps kickstart those family routines. Taking the challenge means signing up to read the Bible for five minutes a day, five days a week, over five weeks. Like the Couch to 5K running challenge, this tool guides families through where to start and what to do. It aims to establish a rhythm of gathering around God’s word at home with reading, discussion and music.
And it’s not just for families. The Youthworks Ministry Support Team developed the resource in collaboration with missionary Pete Morris with the hope that whole churches would use it together. Right now, Rouse Hill Anglican is doing the 555 Challenge together as a church community. Family minister Natalie Walker says,
‘One of the privileges of being part of a church family is that we all work to equip and enable one another to keep going with the wonderful task of growing the children in their faith. Doing the 555 Challenge together provides a way to highlight this aspect of our vision for the church.’
Here are some reflections from congregation members:
‘It has helped me to be intentional about family devotions, rather than waiting for bedtime and then realising it’s too late!’
Many parents (myself included!) have the best intentions of reading the Bible with their children. We don’t need to be convinced that it is important and valuable. It’s the practical obstacles that slow us down and wear us out. The 555 Challenge is helpful in making the goal achievable. It’s just five minutes a day. I can do that.
‘We have been doing the readings three days a week with our adult son and listening to the Spotify playlist, although we skip over the ‘kids’ ones.’
The 555 Challenge provides a short passage to be read together, three questions to help you dig into it, one application question and one prayer suggestion. There’s also a truth statement that captures the key idea for the day and a playlist of songs to listen or sing along to. There’s plenty to choose from to adapt what suits your family. Some families will skip the kids songs and others will just choose two of the questions. Some parents encourage their teenagers to read the questions. The important thing is getting into the habit of opening God’s word together, whatever method you choose.
‘We have done the first two weeks, but then work and life got a bit hectic. We will go back to it though.’
Life does get busy. Kids get sick. The unexpected happens (and still will, even after 2020 is over). The best part of doing the 555 Challenge together with others is that there is motivation and support to pick it up again. The aim is to open God’s word together for five days of each week so there is already some flexibility built in. Having others alongside to spur us on when it seems all too hard is sometimes what is needed.
‘It is good to see our children, even as young as kindy engaging more deeply with the Bible through the questions. It has been good to have some direction with the Bible reading.’
Even children younger than kindy can enjoy learning from the Bible with their family. It looks different according to every family dynamic, and then changes again when there are visitors present. Some days the discussion will take off and you’ll be way past five minutes before you know it. Others will feel like an uphill slog but the effort is worth it. Each of us need the spiritual nourishment of God’s word. Our families need the nourishment of God’s word. And our Heavenly Father is gracious when we ask for help, strength, and just an ounce (or ton) more patience.
Whether it’s Bible Bites, the 555 Challenge, another book, a memory verse song or something different, the important thing is keeping God’s word open and active in our lives. After all, we can’t live on bread alone.
Suggestion: start with the 555 challenge, and then keep up the habit with Bible Bites: 365 Devotions for Families from Youthworks Media.
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