Home and Family Devotional Resources
St Paul is rich with opportunities to stay connected to your God and his gospel promises. We offer in-person and live streamed worship (10:30 Sunday morning, 7pm Wednesdays), in-person and virtual bible studies (Sunday Mornings, 9am, and Thursday evenings, 7pm), in-person Sunday School and home resources for birth-teen, as well as ongoing campus ministry every Friday night. Subscribe to our You Tube channel
for Pastor Thompson's COVID-19 daily meditations as well as to stay connected. You can also check St Paul’s “Devotion and Study Resources”
for additional devotional options. For podcast options, Time of Grace with Pastor Mike Novotny
offers both 5 & 30-minute podcast devotions, and 1517.org
offers a wide variety of Christian podcasts from 5-minute biographies in church history to family conversation on a variety of theological topics.
Encouraging your Kids in God’s Word
Did you know that it takes years for bamboo to grow? You can be watering it for years and not see any growth, and then overnight it shoots up like you wouldn't believe. All of those years you thought it was dormant, it was actually developing an incredibly dense root system. Keeping our kids in God's Word is a lot like growing bamboo. You might not see the results right away, but day-by-day, the Holy Spirit through God's Word is strengthening and deepening your child's "gospel roots." As a parent, God tells us there is nothing more important. At St. Paul, we take this task seriously, but we also understand the many demands that are on parents. That is why we aim to provide families with simple, straight-forward ways to keep Christ at the centre of their family.
Challenge 1: Pray Together Daily
Sometimes we have the best of intentions, but we just don't know where to begin. Here is a great place to start: Add one gospel-centred activity into your daily routine. We call this a keystone habit. It's one simple thing you do each day that has a domino effect--for good--on everything else. Here is what we suggest:
Lead your family in the beginning and end of the day in a prayer that remembers God's gospel promises
Ask each person what they want to pray for, and then pray closing with the following:
"Lord we thank you for your forgiveness, that we are your redeemed, precious children. In all things, you promise that you will never leave us or forsake us and you are working out all things for our good, so that we can have feelings of peace. Let that peace overflow into actions of...(whatever you are praying for that day). In Jesus' name we pray Amen.
That's it. A simple task, but a profound way to centre you and your kids each and ever day. Pastor Thompson also has a whole week of video meditations
on this prayer, if you want to learn more.
Challenge 2: Read God's Word Together Daily
It is never too early to start reading God's Word with your child. Not only do the youngest of children have the most incredible ability to naturally memorize what you read to them, but you are starting them on the best of habits to last a life-time. Reading together does not need to be a long and laborious task. If you spend 5-10 minutes reading God's Word with your child each and every night, you will be amazed at how much they soak up. Here are some of our recommendations for books that are both theologically-sound and parent and kid-approved.
For the youngest of children, just having a few songs you sing together or a poem or two you use to teach them about God, is a great way to start. Take a peak at our Nursery Circle Songs for ideas on songs you can sing with your littlest of ones.
For ages 1+, the Lift the Flap Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones and My First Bible by Leena Lane are great introductions to Bible stories. The stories are short, engaging, and interactive. For ages 3+, The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones is a fantastic choice. Kids fall in love with the writing and illustrations. The book covers all of Salvation History, and, most importantly, everything points to Jesus as our Saviour from sins. There are also DVD and audiobook versions available. Check above for a sample home devotional video with this resource.
The Book of Psalms
have been a comfort for people across the ages. The poetry captures the intensity of our deep and ever-changing emotions while placing them in the context of a bigger story: the Christian story that tells of a good God, a God who is in control of all things, and a God that is working out all things for our eternal good. This is a message not only for us
, but for our children
. Psalms: For Young Children
by Marie-Helene Delval brings the psalms to life and makes them accessible for even the youngest of children. There is a lot that is uncertain in our world. And while we do our best to bring stability and routine to our children’s lives, they can’t help but notice and be affected by it. One of the ways we can support our children’s resiliency is by helping them identify, name (for young children) and talk about their struggles/feelings, model how to place these feelings in the context of a God who is bigger than all of it, and support them in visualizing places of peace, calm, and security. This is exactly what God helps us do in the Psalm
s, and what this book can help you do with your child. Click here
to see our full review and home devotional video
For Ages 6+, The Story Bible
is an easy to read introduction to the language and writing style of the bible, and its margins provide parents with review questions and prayers. Check below for a sample home devotional video with this resource.
The Growing in Faith Bible Storybook
is another wonderful option for Grades 1-6. It introduces children to the language of the Bible while still being very readable and engaging. Each story opens up with an interactive question to get your kids thinking and talking, and it closes with a prayer, so it is a great option for a bedtime family devotion. With 125 stories, your children will dig into the meat of the Old and New Testament, while still being guided by the fact that every story points to Jesus. Each page also provides vivid artwork that was not only created to be historically accurate, but it also corresponds to St. Paul's "Enduring Faith" Sunday School curriculum.
Ages 9+ is a perfect time to have your child start reading the bible out-loud to you. Pick a section you are both interested in learning about together. Have your child read out-loud for 5-10 minutes, answering questions as they arise. When finished, model devotional questions that will serve them in their life-long devotional walk: What is God teaching us? Where is the law? Where is the gospel? What promise does God give? What can I give thanks for?
A great supplement to these bible readings is to start learning more about the life and times in bible history. The Complete Bible Discovery Guide
is a Bible handbook where you and your kids can dive into the people, history, culture, and traditions of both the Old and New Testament times. With excellent illustrations, simple explanations, and great maps, this is fun for all ages. This can also be paired with Bible Background
by Dr. Glen Thompson. A pastor, theologian, and professor of antiquities, Dr. Thompson brings history to life, writing in simple language that will be enjoyable for even elementary aged children. And for a little bit of fun, The Action Bible
by comic strip illustrator, Sergio Cariello, is an incredible artistic feat that can be enjoyed for hours at a time. It is also a great choice for older kids who are just being introduced to God's Word.
For children and tweens who also enjoy journalling, another great option is Concordia Publishing House's "My Devotions
." Written for ages 8-12, these are excellent devotions to mentor tweens in an independent devotional life.
Instead of reading bible stories distinct for each age group, some families enjoy a daily all-age family devotion. Family Time (free sample for download)
offers short daily devotions to read with the whole family. With great illustrations for all ages, excellent talking points, and easy-to-follow closing prayers, it is a great first-time family devotional. Another simple and free option is subscribing to daily family devotions
through Wels.net. These are offered daily online and provide discussion points for all ages as well as supplemental hymns to learn.
Creation Ministries International is a confederation of scientists (click here
for a full listing) who exist to provide “credible answers that affirm the reliability of the Bible, in particular its Genesis history.” They publish the world’s most widely read creation family magazine
(that is great to read with kids ages 12+) as well as a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Each issue also offers a kid's article (ages 8+) that invites kids to wonder at the marvels of God’s creation while also tackling many evolutionary topics like dating methods, dinosaur timelines, and much more! And these are all free online
. For older children, these are great to mix into family devotion time.
To Note: Repeatedly these articles challenge us to consider what is our final authority on truth. Everyone has an authority when it comes to how we evaluate information, be it our intellect, current opinion, or our peer group. Jesus tells us God’s Word is reliable and true. It should be our road-map, our way of seeing this world. So when current trends-- be it scientific or moral or cultural-promote what is contrary to God’s Word, we choose God even though that decision does not always come easliy. Sometimes, the tone of these kids articles can come across as over-confident. Most find the right balance. Every now and then, you may come across one where you want to dig-in a little more with your family on this topic.
Another great choice for family devotions, especially as kids gets older, is working through full books together. See some of our favorites below:
Case for a Creator: For Kids
"My road to atheism was paved by science . . . but, ironically, so was my later journey to God," --Lee Strobel
Lee Strobel is a former investigative journalist who turned from religious skepticism to Christianity and has since become one of the world’s leading Christian apologists. His New York times bestseller, “Case for a Creator,” unpacks the scientific evidence for God and has since been updated and modified into a kid-friendly version. This is a fantastic read for the whole family! It is written for ages 9-12, but even older kids will benefit. For older teens, you can also move on to the adult version. Strobel and his team of writers encourage kids to think critically (i.e., use logic and follow evidence where it leads) while exposing the error in believing that you need to either choose between science or God.
The apostle Paul writes that since “the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20). In this book, Strobel explores the natural knowledge of God with in-depth scientific topics and kid-friendly simplicity. You and your kids will explore the mind-boggling ways our earth is fine-tuned for life, the marvelous complexity of DNA, and the mysteries of how our world began (i.e., cosmology). And this is just Part 1!
Strobel and his team of writers don’t just teach you and your kid’s fantastic facts, they guide you in applying these key concepts to your life. In Part 2, the book offers the reader real-life scenarios where kids are challenged and/or are looking for opportunities to share their faith with friends. Rather than perfect models, they offer the reader a chance to think through how each child in the story handles the situation and consider how they might have responded. Strobel also offers talking points at the end of each scenario to help guide the conversation.
In addition to the superb content and the excellent educational structure of this book, I also appreciate its tone. Strobel tackles this topic with understanding and grace. It is not about one-upping someone in an argument, but about loving your friends and family while not shrinking from your beliefs or the overwhelming fact of the appearance of design in all levels of the natural world.
When reading this book with your children, be aware of two areas where Strobel's theology may not line up with what we believe and teach: First, Strobel recognizes that when it comes to faith, the facts can only get us so far. He writes, “faith begins where facts leave off.” And the Bible clearly teaches that faith comes from hearing the message of Christ’s redemptive work (Romans 10:17). Nevertheless, near the end of Part 1, Strobel invites readers to “ask God to speak to your heart. Ask him to come into your life” and then to “try doing something nice for another person.” Because the gospel message is never explicitly stated, his invitation to the reader seems to imply that we can make a decision for Christ based solely upon intellectual reasoning. This is a great opportunity to talk with your child about (1) where faith comes from (and how it's a gift given only through the gospel), (2) how apologetics like this book can remove barriers to faith, and (3) how our desire to do good naturally flows from what Christ has already done for us. Second, the Big Bang theory is also gently addressed. Strobel chooses his language carefullly, possilby in such a way to suggest that a Christian can both hold to the Big Bang theory and
Genesis' six day creation. Note that most young-earth scientists would say you cannot
hold to both, since the Big Bang theory was created to make sense of a universe expanding over billions of years, a presupposition biblical Christians do not hold. Be sure to emphasize with your kids that scientists who are biblical Christians have the freedom to explore what the earliest times in our universe may have been like, but that we never re-interpret the Bible to fit current scientific theories, such as the universe has beeen expanding over billions of years.
Daughter: Our Story Remembered
Daughter: Our Story Remembered
by Cindy Koch, is a coming of age book for all Tween girls, their mothers and all ages in between and after! It is a great read for any teen and burgeoning youth, but it really shines as a book that can be read or discussed together, one chapter at-a-time.
In this book, Koch addresses the Big question when it comes to growing up: Who am I and who do I want to be? She argues that how we answer this question depends greatly upon what story we believe we are a part of. And so, she weaves us and in and out of the greatest story of human history--our Creation, Fall, and Redemption--turning it into an “ancient tale” that has been passed on to each and every one of us females.
Koch’s writes with precision and theological depth. As a mother of five children who also holds a MA in exegetical theology from Concordia Seminary, she skillfully crafts her story with important theological markers that are still relatable to young women. She also manages the difficult task of adding theological insights that engage adult readers while still keeping it short and simple enough to interest younger readers. She inspires young women with the identity God has given them, but she also realistically describes its challenges and the struggles of life. If you are looking for a Christ-centered coming of age book for your daughter, this is it!
The only thing that I wish Koch had also included in this book would be talking points at the end of each chapter. However, Koch also hosts the podcast, “Family Style Theology” and has an entire season
where she walks through this book with a circle of young women, ranging from tween to adult. There, you will find all the nuanced questions and challenges that young women are facing with Koch modeling how to discuss and teach alongside your daughter. And, she even provides a study worksheet
to go-along with each episode. Because the episodes also go chapter-by-chapter, this allows you to turn this into a special book you can read weekly with or at the same time as your daughter and than gather together over a special treat, to listen to the podcast and discuss.