It seems as if COVID-19 has taken over our lives for the next several weeks. One positive of the world shutting down is that families are able to slow their fast-paced lives down. A negative is many families are not sure what to do with themselves. I offer the following as suggestions for maintaining and even growing in spiritual and relational health through the shutdown. I encourage you to start simple and start today.
1. Family Worship
If you are not already doing some form of family worship, now is a great time to start. If nothing else, take your Sunday nights and Wednesday nights to gather the family for a time of worship and Bible study. If you have never experienced family worship, please remove the image of a pulpit and stage in the middle of your living room. Instead think simple. Think basic. Think about setting aside 15 minutes to do the following.
Read the Bible. Family worship involves reading the Bible together. I recommend reading through a book of the Bible. My family is currently going through Proverbs using a curriculum called The Dig (learn more HERE). Spend some time discussing the Bible together. Ask questions and allow your children to ask you questions about the meaning of the text. Don’t be afraid of questions, “I don’t know, but I will look into that,” is a great response, but make sure you do look for it.
Pray. Family worship includes praying together. Allow each member of the family to pray, but I recommend keeping it brief (5-10 minutes). Pray for God’s kingdom to come and His will to be done. Pray for each family member specifically by name. If you have children who are not believers, pray for their salvation and for other lost family members or friends. Pray for God’s continued provision for your family and thank Him for everything He has provided for you thus far.
Sing. Family worship may include singing together. Many families might find singing together to be an awkward experience. However, let me encourage you to persevere through the awkwardness in order to find joy in singing together as a family. Start by singing songs that everyone knows. If someone in your family plays an instrument then let them play; otherwise, just sing a cappella.
For more information about worshiping together as a family, I recommend reading one of the following books: A Neglected Grace by Jason Helopoulos, Family Worship by Joel Beeke, or Family Shepherds by Voddie Baucham.
2. Eat Together
Families often over-schedule their time which leaves little time for family togetherness. I encourage you to make eating together a priority while the world is shutdown. Research has found “kids who eat dinner with their parents experience less stress and have a better relationship with them.” Additionally, teens who eat dinner with their family at least three times a week are much less likely to engage in many harmful behaviors such as consuming alcohol, using drugs, premarital sex, and a host of juvenile delinquent behaviors.
3. Remember the Catechism
During a significant time of turmoil, the steady and unchanging nature of God is a firm foundation in which we can rest. Maybe you have taken a break from the catechism. Maybe you never started. But now is a great time to begin anew learning the great doctrines of faith.
New City Catechism has a number of resources available at http://newcitycatechism.com. There are also several resources including links to songs and videos at https://fellowshipjoplin.org/catechism.
You can start by reading the question, answer, and Scripture passage together. Afterward, take a few minutes to discuss what the question and answer teach us about who God is and what He has done.
4. Read a Book Together
Now may be a great time to pick up a book and read it together. I have included a few suggestions for parents of teenagers. If you are a member of my church, then I may have some copies for you to borrow or purchase, depending on the book.
Do Hard Things. This is an older book, but I believe it is still a good one. The Harris brothers challenge teens to do five kinds of hard things during the adolescent years. This may be a great opportunity to discuss some of these things with your teens or as a family.
Through the Gates of Splendor. Elisabeth Elliot shares the story of how her husband and a group of missionaries died for the faith in the jungles of Ecuador. If you have never read a missionary biography, this is a great starter book.
What Every Man Wishes His Father Told Him/What Every Woman Wishes Her Father Told Her. I would encourage every father of teenagers to read these books with their sons or daughters.
How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. A great book to help you and your teen learn some basic principles for studying the Bible and how to study the different genres within the Bible.
Pilgrims Progress. I include John Bunyan’s great allegory of the Christian life to add some fiction and fantasy to the list. Another great option is to read the book and then watch the movie together. You could even spend some time talking about the similarities and differences.
5. Learn Life Skills Together
We live in an age where two things are true. First, the majority of people alive today have learned relatively few life skills. Second, learning life skills today is incredibly easy thanks to YouTube. I encourage you to take some time over the next couple of weeks to either teach your child a few skills or learn a few skills together with your child. Some skills you might consider are
- How to Tie a Tie (or if you are really adventurous, How to Tie a Bowtie)
- How to Sew on a Button
- How to Change the Oil in Your Car
- How to Chang a Tire
- How to Cook Three Recipes
- How to Sharpen a Knife
- How to Hang a Picture
- How to Balance a Checkbook or Create a Budget
- How to Iron a Shirt or Pants
- How to Make Coffee
So whatever it is, learn to do something together.
This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but merely a primer. My hope and prayer for your family is that you will grow in Christ, grow together, and grow together in Christ over the next several weeks while the world is shutdown.