Pastor Gene Haymaker says, “The day of family altars is disappearing as quickly as our youth. Families have relegated the teaching of biblical truth to their church and to their Christian schools. It is my belief that the number of homes having a family altar, where the entire family is involved, would directly correspond to the percentage of young people leaving the church. The primary agency for teaching children biblical truth is the home.”
Following are some suggestions:
- Find the best time. This will vary according to each family’s situation. The best time might be morning or afternoon or evening. It might be right after a meal. Be ready to change the time of the family altar if the family’s situation and schedule changes.
- Read a passage from the Bible. Perhaps read through a book of the Bible, reading a few verses each day. Pastor David Sorenson says, “One method we have used over the years, particularly in teaching godliness and righteousness, is to take one chapter of Proverbs a day according to the days of the month. For example, if the day of the month is the 29th, I would go to Proverbs 29. There I would seek out a verse or two which stood out and go over it very briefly. Once we had gone through Proverbs, we might then go to Psalms and look for an appropriate verse in a three chapter sequence. For example, if the day of the month was the 15th, I might peruse Psalm 45-47 for a verse to dwell upon. There are 150 Psalms and seeking a good verse over three chapters was simple and always worked” (Training Your Children to Turn Out Right). If the family is dealing with specific issues or problems, choose passages that deal with that issue.
- If the children are old enough to read, perhaps let them take turns reading.
- Perhaps let each family member try to explain the passage in his or her own words. You will never understand the Bible until you try to understand it.
- The father or mother should then explain the basic meaning of the passage to help the children understand better.
- Let the children ask questions. If the parents don’t know the answer, they should make an effort to find it. This is why a family Christian library with some good commentaries is important.
- Use the family altar to teach important biblical principles. Pastor Ken Shaver says, “As our children grew older, we would spend a few weeks on issues like modesty, biblical principles for entertainment, and other relevant things.”
- Memorize verses together. Missionary Bob Nichols says, “I try to lead my family to memorize 14 verses a month. We’ll go over the verses as a family, and what a tremendous help that’s been.”
- Sing a song together. Perhaps let the children choose and lead the song, by turns.
- Pray together. Praying together as a family is powerful. The Lord made the family, and He wants His children to approach Him as families. He delights in hearing and answering His people’s prayers. My wife and youngest daughter choose a specific thing or two to pray for together, and we pray for those specific things until the Lord answers or He shows us that it isn’t His will. We have seen many wonderful answers to prayer in this way.
- Train the children to sit still and listen and give respect to their parents and to God and His Word. Parents, if your children will not sit still and listen to God’s Word, you haven’t disciplined them properly. It is not their fault; it is your fault.
- Make the family altar time an interesting, happy time. While parents must teach the children to sit still and listen and be respectful, learning God’s Word and worshiping Him should not be a boring, harsh time that the children learn to dread. Pastor Ken Shaver says, “We would work very hard at keeping it light, and upbeat.”
- There are many things beyond Bible study that can be done during family devotions when time permits. The family can read biographies together and discuss them. They can read material pertaining to creation science. The book A Closer Look at the Evidence by Richard and Tina Kleiss contains 365 interesting brief studies on fascinating facts of life that support creation. It is available in a KJV edition from Bethel Baptist Print Ministry, 4212 Campbell St. N., London, Ontario N6P 1A6, firstname.lastname@example.org. Nothing, though, should take the place of studying the Bible itself.
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