Experiencing God was a big piece of my new-to-Christianity journey and I’m so thankful for the basic but powerful principles that I was taught through the Teen Experiencing God workbook. When we were going through our gazillion books before this latest move, I had a fun time looking through the workbook and seeing how I answered some of the questions.
The sons of the writers of Experiencing God have recently come out with several books in an “Experiencing God at Home” line. I reviewed a picture book, Sammy Experiences God, awhile back that we really liked. The publishers also recently sent me the two other books: Experiencing God at Home and Experiencing God at Home: Day-By-Day Family Devotional.
I was excited to review these books because I’m always on the lookout for resources that are going to help us guide our children in their spiritual development. I was reminded during a recent sermon given my our children’s minister that our kids are pushed to achieve in all areas of life, and that they often carry this “achievement’ attitude in the church and their spiritual formation. Sometimes we parents encourage this achievement mentality, even if we don’t intend to. So, I’ve been thinking about that lately, and am hoping to help my kids know that they don’t have to achieve for God or for me. He’s so not interested in that game. So, that’s kinda the lens through which I’m viewing spiritual development resources these days. Onto the reviews :).
Experiencing God at Home is a book written about raising a family with kids and how to incorporate the 7 Experiencing God realities into daily family life. Tom and Richard Blackaby each have almost completely raised children and share that they have been wanting to write this book for awhile, but felt like they needed to wait a couple decades before doing so. They not only use experiences from their raising of a family, but also their experiences in their own home growing up. While the introduction to the book turned me off (throwing a bunch of discouraging statistics at the reader about the demise of our culture, etc.), the book itself had some great stories and lessons that were encouraging and thought-provoking.
It is obvious that these two men care much more about their child’s heart than about outward appearances of morality or righteousness. They strived to have a grace-filled home, which I think might be a key– because really, this grace is what makes the gospel good news. If not for grace, lots and lots of grace, we’d be just a moral people. I love reading the real stories of issues that they’ve dealt with and being relieved to find that they break some of the traditional parenting rules in exchange for fighting for more important ones (i.e. who cares if you make your bed but I do deeply care about you acting in love towards your brother/sister). I haven’t read quite all of it yet, but what I’ve read is quality and real. The only critique I would have is that it seems like everything has turned out so well for these two families. I could see that if a family is really struggling, it could be a bit annoying.
The family devotional aims to help families experience God together through spending a bit of time each day reading and talking about Scripture together, and then providing an activity or thought for younger and older children to do or think about in their own personal quiet time. The devotions are set up without a date assigned, so you can start whenever you want. The devotions walk through Scripture in a chronological fashion, so you start by talking about creation, the exodus, etc etc until you end up in the New Testament. It also has some special day devotions (birthday, holidays, game days, etc.) in case you want to substitute in one of those for a special day.
One of the greatest things about this series is that it’s not about teaching kids about God or about the Bible. It’s about helping to guide them to God and to help them to recognize God’s activity in their very lives. Not only in my life as the parent, but in their kid-sized life. I love it, because during those days when doubt threatens to overwhelm my soul, I can remember the work of the Spirit in my life, which most often calms my doubt.
I think it’s important to note that this has the content of a full-size book, and while it’s the length of a full-size book, it’s small; it looks more like a gift book. The words are tiny, so if your eyesight isn’t that great, then this won’t work for you. You could get the kindle version instead. As for age of kids that this would work best for, I’d say that “younger children” means elementary school kids.
Overall, these are two books I’d recommend to a family looking for encouragement and wisdom in helping to guide children in their spiritual formation. If I had to choose one, I’d say go with the first one (Experiencing God at Home) as it is more principle-based and will provide more of a daily moment-by-moment foundation to work from.
Thanks so much to Shelton Interactive for giving me complimentary copies of these two books in exchange for an honest review. 🙂