Adventures in Family Devotions: Old Story New

Last week, I wrote about my first experience with Family Devotions and some of my failures. Today, I would like to share a new book written to help folks like me.

If you have been reading along with the post last week, you know that my experience with family worship has been a pendulum between big ideals and difficult implementation. I get the feeling that most regular people like us struggle with this. Unless you are a super-parent or have angelic children, family devotions are hard. That probably bears repeating, because it is encouraging to remember that it is a struggle for others.

Family devotions are hard.

There is no silver bullet that will make kids sit quietly at night. There is no magic potion which will make your 4 year old engage with you and the Bible each evening. Corralling all the kids before the earliest of bedtimes can be a tough task.  Thankfully there is a new resource to help out parents like us. With kids like ours.

Marty Machowski is a pastor who is the author of the Gospel Story Bible. Along with this he has helped to design a 3 year curriculum based on the Gospel Story Bible. Last year New Growth Press released Long Story Short, the Old Testament companion to Old Story New.

Old Story New corresponds to the 78 New Testament stories of the Gospel Story Bible. Each story has 5 evenings worth of lessons (which easily correspond to school-nights) in Old Story New. These nightly lessons are not overly long or complex. Each week contains a sort of rhythm that goes like this:

  • Sunday: The story of the week is introduced. There are vivid modern stories and illustrations that help your kids understand the story for the week.
  • Monday: There is a short review followed by a chance for your family to dig deeper into the story for the week.
  • Tuesday: This lesson always focusses on connecting the story to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Wednesday: This lesson is similar to Tuesday, exploring the passage. But each week there is a prompt for the kids to ask the parents a question about how the story connects to their loves. This is a fantastic exercise.
  • Thursday: The final lesson of the week always branches out to the Old Testament to connect the story to the Psalms and Prophets.

Each day also contains questions, with the answers already written in. Additionally, there is a prayer starter every day. This layout and pattern makes it incredibly simple for anyone to begin to have family devotion time with their kids. Even parents who may be young in their faith can use this devotional. It keeps us from accidentally moralizing the stories. By providing answers, it also helps parents stay focussed in pointing their children to Jesus.

Another strength of Old Story New is the connection to the Bible. While the lessons are based in the Gospel Story Bible, the readings each night of from mom and dad’s Bible. This is incredibly important. Most family devotions are either based solely on some sort of children’s Bible, or solely on mom and dad’s Bible. Old Story New is based on the stories out of the companion children’s Bible, but each day has a reading from scripture. This balance is the best part of the devotional. While our children may not understand every word, they can begin at a young age to engage the scriptures. Old Story New gives parents handles for introducing their kids to the Bible.

The book is aimed at elementary aged kids, though there are some helpful tips on adapting it to younger or older children. But it is ideal for a kids in the middle of elementary school (ages 6-10). If your church uses the Gospel Story curriculum, like we do here at Surfside, the devotional is a perfect companion. Students are introduced to the story at church and then through the week look at it again with their parents.

I highly recommend Old Story New for your family. It is an incredible resource and companion to the New Growth Press children’s resources. You can click here to pick up a copy from New Growth Press (cheaper than Amazon!)

Or even better, Get One for Free! Leave a comment here about one of your failures or successes in family devotions; or tell us about the best idea for family worship you have seen. Next Monday, I will randomly select two of the comments and send them a free copy of Old Story New!

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About futonreformer

I am a pastor in the PCA serving in Myrtle Beach, SC. I am a sixth generation Tampa native and I love the Rays and Bucs!

19 responses to “Adventures in Family Devotions: Old Story New”

  1. Kendal Barriere says :

    We have a 3 yr old and a 1 yr old, and we have not incorporated family devotions into our routine yet. We need to start asap. This is the opportune time to train them in the Lord. This book seems like the perfect way to start, and it should keep the kids attention fairly well.

  2. Julie says :

    We often fail to have consistancy in our family devos, but now that we put it on the calandar our two year old doesn’t let us miss a day

  3. Melissa Jones says :

    We just ordered Long Story New & The Gospel Bible so that we can start having family devotions. Our family devotions in the past have been touch and go, but we’re definitely excited to incorporate these into our school day.

  4. Amy Petz says :

    We have tried reading through the Bible (starting with Genesis) and we are very sporadic at it. We also have done the kids QT diaries together at night (now currently doing it during our school day), but we are always hit or miss (some weeks good…other weeks bad). Andy and I read your review and would love something that would be easily integrated for a wide rage age group and yet with the Scriptures as center. As our family seeks to be more gospel centered (and seeking to move away from being moralistic as it is easy to do) this looks to be a great resource! Thanks Justin for sharing this with us!

  5. dwmcelduff says :

    I’m looking forward to getting a copy of Old Story New. I’ve used Long Story Short for over a year now in family devotions. My advice for family devotions is don’t be so rigid and see yourself as a failure if It doesn’t always go the way you think it should. The main thing to teach your kids is that you love God’s word and you want them to love God’s word and instruction. That will be something they never forget.

  6. Cindy Wolfshohl says :

    I’m looking forward to getting this set of books for my grandson. I would also suggest some hands on activities to accompany some of the devotions.

  7. Brent Berry says :

    I have four kids – 12, 8, 7, & 6. Our family devotions can get to be somewhat rowdy as you can imagine. I used to lose my mind when my kids would act like kids during devotional. Of course God wanted elementary school children to sit still and give deep theological answers and only speak when called upon. Who was the ridiculous one in this situation? I consider myself a bible teacher so pretty much every one of devotional nights was a failure in my eyes. Anyway, now that the kids have gotten me trained a little better and my expectations are more realistic I would give two suggestions: 1)make it a goal for devotionals to be fun. Try to get your kids to look forward to your time. 2)Get outside the devotional box. Sometimes we put on worship CD and Praise God as a family.

  8. Julie says :

    We had been told over and over again that family devos was the best place to teach your children how to sit quiet and behave as they would at church service, but this led to devotions being a time we all dreaded as we were constantly dealing with “sit up” “be quiet” “pay attention” ” you MUST do this or that.” While children do need to be trained to pay attention, sit quietly, and respect the Word of God, that can be done in other times beyond family devotions. We have relaxed some, we let the children draw pictures of what we’re reading, we act out the Bible stories after Daddy reads, and we try to not demand from our children more than they are capable of. The children especially enjoy acting out the Bible stories Daddy reads from the Scripture. (We’re currently working the Big Bible Timeline.) BTW, our children are 6,4,2, and 9 months! Getting everyone to cooperate for family devos can be quite challenging!

  9. Christie Huff says :

    Our best success so far has actually been with “Long Story Short” and our church uses Marty’s original sunday school curriculum that follows the same lessons so I am very greatful for these resources and excited for the chance to win this new one!

  10. Erik Huff says :

    Whether for morning devotions or evening Bible reading and songs we have used several resources for our three boys and despite their young ages we have seen far more fruit than our efforts deserve. We use the Big Picture Bible, The Jesus Storybook Bible, a rNIV Children’s Bible, The Action Bible, Long Story Short, Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers, and any great gospel story we can (like Fool Moon Rising and R.C. Sproul’s kid’s books).

  11. Tommy says :

    This a great little blog and thoughts about family devo – Where do I start about failures?? Just not doing or just doing too much for my 4 year and 16 month old children. At least my daughter so lyrics to the Avett Brothers…..

  12. Bo Lancaster says :

    It looks like a great book for use in our family devotion times. The girls love the Jesus Story book bible, but this seems like it is more geared towards a devotional time. We’d love a copy!

  13. futonreformer says :

    Thank you all so much for commenting and sharing! There are a lot of great ideas for ways that we can help our family. I numbered the comments to this post (not including my replies) and then asked random.org to give me two numbers inside the range. Congratulations to post 4 & 7, Amy Petz and Brent Berry. I will contact you both via the emails you used to comment.

    Check back in a few weeks for another give away from New Growth Press!

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