Most certainly father and mother are apostles, bishops, and priests to their children, for it is they who make them acquainted with the gospel. In short, there is no greater or nobler authority on earth than that of parents over their children, for this authority is both spiritual and temporal.

–Martin Luther

We started officially doing Family Devotions, as the girls call it, this year. Previously we’d haphazardly read Bible stories before bed (sometimes; other times it was Little House and Pinkalicious), but this year, when CPH’s fabulous new Children’s Story Bible came out, we decided to incorporate it into our dinnertime routine.

When I was in third grade, my family memorized Luther’s Small Catechism around the dinner table. That was my dad’s first year of seminary. When I asked him just a few weeks ago why he’d chosen that year, he said it was because he had to memorize it anyway, so he and my mom figured they’d bring us in on it.

Turns out, it was a good thing. I still remember every single word of the Catechism and its meanings. In third grade I didn’t necessarily understand it…that came later…but the words were there for me to recall when I needed them.

We usually start by reading a story from the Story Bible.

Notice how alert the girls are. But watch Sophia in the next series of pictures. Pretty hilarious.

Somehow she manages to answer the questions, though. Sometimes we do “M&M Trivia” and they get M&Ms for answering the questions. Happily, they’re still good at answering sans the treats.

I’m also amazed at how quickly they’re learning the Catechism. I figured, when we started, that Kate could do the six chief parts and the meanings, and Sophia could just do the six chief parts. Any meanings would be bonus. Any educator reading this won’t be surprised by the following, but I was. It turns out Sophia, at age 4, is a sponge. She’s picked up the meanings as quickly as Kate, and sometimes even “helps” her big sister when she stumbles (to Kate’s annoyance and our amusement).

Here is Sophia helping Kate and reciting the Ten Commandments:

And one more. Around 1:30 she helps her again.

Jonathan is just in it for the M&Ms.

Derek brings Sophia to his Thursday morning confirmation class while I work and Jonathan naps, and the seventh-graders were amazed as she rattled off a bunch of commandments and meanings. “See?” Derek said to them. “If she can do it, so can you.”

I think they became less impressed then.

As for us, I’m so glad we began this. It’s one thing to take your kids to church and passively require their attendance, and another to actively teach them the faith. There are no guarantees, but basically, I’m hoping Proverbs 22:6 kicks in.

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

 

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6 Responses to Family devotions

  1. Lauren says:

    Kids ARE sponges and we adults don’t give them enough credit. We get in the way. We think things of the church are boring and stuffy and surely the children wouldn’t like those things. Uh, wrong. I am always amazed at the things children pick up and know from church. And posts and videos like these are wonderful to prove how much children can learn by heart. I like to imagine the Lord’s joy in hearing your children speak of their faith and how angry the devil must be. Both make me smile.

  2. Jill Startup says:

    Lovely and inspiring! =)

  3. Andrea says:

    I babysat for a family quite a bit who catechized their children at a young age, not only with the catechism and meanings, but also hymnody. Usually, after we ate the main course and the kids cleared the table, and mom cleaned up in the kitchen, dad would go through the catechism and meanings and follow with a hymn. Great to see since I didn’t get such opportunities at that age. At bedtime, it would be a hymn, Luther’s evening prayer and the Lord’s prayer. The cool part is listening to them sing hymns or hum them while playing. What joy!

  4. Sophia is hilarious!! She looks like she’s not paying any attention at all, but she totally is. I think I was really fidgety like that as a kid too.

    I was just telling someone recently about our memorization of the Small Catechism during Dad’s first year of seminary. I knew it was because he had to learn it too, but I suppose you were too young to ask or care at the time. I still remember most of the words too, although my kids are learning it a bit differently with the new Small Catechism. It was also handy in Confirmation class because I already knew the majority of the memory work!

  5. [...] wonderful and happens to be the wife of my pastor, posted a video to her blog of her husband Derek teaching the catechism to his girls.   It’s priceless!  And gave us some hints on how to get the kids to fully participate in [...]

  6. Adriane Dorr says:

    Kudos to you and Derek. So few parents do this anymore. Our parents made us girls sit down every night to read Scripture and pray together. We didn’t really get the importance of it at the time, but looking back on it, not only was it formative in terms of family time together but it profoundly shapes your understanding of the faith throughout life. You get the Lutheran Parents of the Year Award!