The seven ‘C’s of family devotions

Elvin and Esther Foong // February 28, 2019, 1:59 pm

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Someone once likened the process of growing faith at home to jumping off a very tall cliff, and sewing a parachute on the way down, say Esther and Elvin Foong. But the rewards are invaluable. All photos courtesy of Esther and Elvin Foong.

Since we started The Treasure Box SG, a company focused on providing support for family discipleship, we have conducted numerous workshops for churches on how parents can raise Christ-centred children.

The first and most important ingredient for family devotions is the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

As a practice, we start each workshop by inviting participants to share their thoughts on the factors that stop them from having regular family devotional times.

As everyone’s answers start to pop up on the screen, it’s always fascinating to us just how similar the challenges are, even though the families are from different churches and different walks of life. At the top of the list for every workshop we’ve conducted is the perennial Singaporean problem of “no time”. Coming in a close second: “Too tired.” And third: “Don’t know how.”

While both of us are by no means experts on the subject, we would like to share 7 ‘C’s that we’ve learnt from our own experience of having family devotions, which we have done almost everyday for the past year and a half. These have helped us to find some degree of success on this journey.


The first and most important ingredient for family devotions is the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Unless we are deeply convinced in our hearts of the importance of faith at home, and until the Holy Spirit gives us the strong desire to have regular family devotion times, anything that we attempt will just be an exercise in exhaustible human ability and willpower.

When we partner with the Holy Spirit, He gives us not only the “want to”, but also the “strength to”.

Staying committed to family devotions will help you grow the habit into a lifestyle.


Someone once likened the process of growing faith at home to jumping off a very tall cliff, and sewing a parachute on the way down.

If you don’t jump off the cliff you won’t need the parachute, but you also won’t get to experience the exhilaration of a journey that you can only undertake if you take that first step.

It takes courage to overcome that initial inertia and to push aside the fear of the unknown.

After all, it is a faith venture – and as we step out, we trust that God will give us the strength and the wisdom that we need to pursue Him together as a family.


Lots of people see the end product of a person’s spiritual journey, but not the process they had to undergo to get to where they are now.

It’s foolhardy for us to get inspired and want to spend three hours praying every morning, when right now we can’t even wake up five minutes earlier to get to work on time.

That’s why commitment is so important – we first need to ask ourselves what we’re able to commit to.

If having family devotions every day is a tall order, then start with once a week.

If getting the family together for 15 minutes to pray before bedtime is a near impossibility, then start with five minutes.

Last year, The Treasure Box SG produced a devotional for kids on the fruit of the Spirit. The activity book comes with scripts to guide parents on how to lead devotions.

Once you’ve figured out what you can commit to, then commit to it.

Set reminders on your phone. Add it to your scheduler. Give each other permission to gently remind the other when you’re tempted to give family devotions a miss. Staying committed will help you grow the habit into a lifestyle.


Variety may be the spice of life, but too much spice can cause indigestion.

Staying clear and consistent in the way you facilitate devotions will help to build confidence for both parent and child.

I would know, I’m still regretting the chicken rendang I had for lunch. But I digress.

The point is this: Staying clear and consistent in the way you facilitate devotions will help to build confidence for both parent and child.

As a parent, consistency helps you grow into your role as primary spiritual caregiver.

For kids, the routine will help them build safe and healthy boundaries within which they can be real and be vulnerable.

That’s not to say that, from time to time, you can’t change up how you do things; you can and should find ways to keep family devotional times fresh and interesting, but not at the expense of building emotional and spiritual stability.

Trust God to give you the strength and wisdom that you need to pursue Him as a family.

Remember, routine isn’t boring – people are. If your family devotional time is starting to get mundane, perhaps it’s time to grow your communication and facilitation skills.


The easiest trap to fall into when starting or having family devotions is the “I talk, you listen” trap.

Family devotion times should not be a one-way street where our kids simply sit there and quaff everything we’re saying.

It’s tempting to make family devotions more academic, where we start assigning imaginary grades and value to the questions we ask. Something like: [“Why did Jonah disobey God?” (2 marks)] isn’t the trick to get children to remember the Bible.

Family time should be safe and fun, say the Foongs.

Instead, let’s learn to see family devotions as precious windows of time, where the family can have open and honest communication together.

It should be a time where questions are asked, discussions take place, and genuine opinions are shared.

Our kids should feel safe enough to speak up and share their own experiences as it relates to the topic.


Like any other spiritual discipline, having regular family devotions isn’t easy. It takes mental, emotional and physical effort to make it happen.

So when it does happen, it’s worth celebrating.

Keep an eye out for milestones that will take place as your family grows this area of faith at home.

Maybe your pre-teen asked a question for the first time. Celebrate that.

Maybe your teenager finally decided to join in tonight, instead of hiding in his room and watching YouTube videos. Celebrate that.

Maybe your pre-schooler asked if Jesus could be her best friend. Please, pray with her. And then throw a huge party to celebrate that. Having regular family devotions isn’t always easy, but it can always be fun.

Esther and Elvin Foong, with their son Nathan and daughter Phoebe. Their children’s devotionals encourage parents of young children to take charge of their kids’ spiritual growth.


Getting our workshop participants to share anonymously about the challenges they face when it comes to having or starting family devotions gives us a sense of the biggest difficulties parents have.

We grow best as parents when we are part of and contribute to a group of like-minded parents with whom we can be “naked and unashamed”.

But, more importantly, through this simple exercise, the group of parents who may not have been willing or brave enough to share the difficulties that they face on their spiritual parenting journey with each other, suddenly realise that they’re not alone.

In that moment of realisation, community is born.

“It is not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) While this was spoken in the context of the first man, Adam, we believe the principle applies that God never intended for us to go through life in isolation.

We all need helpmeets. I am convinced that we are better when we are in community with people who can encourage us and whom we can encourage.

We grow best as parents when we are part of and contribute to a group of like-minded parents with whom we can be spiritually “naked and unashamed” (Genesis 2:25) – letting our guard down without fear of judgment.

So, as you consider starting family devotional times at home, why not find a group of parents to do it together, sharing your struggles and celebrating your victories with one another? It’ll make the journey that much more fulfilling.

The Seven ’C’s of Family Devotions are taken from Elvin and Esther Foong’s workshop Faith At Home – Why Should We, And How Do We?. The first public run of the workshop will be taking place on Thursday, March 14 March, 7.30pm–9.30pm at Church Arise. Admission is free. Due to limited spaces, please register at to reserve your slot.

Elvin and Esther are also releasing their debut album Songs for a Season on Thursday, March 7. The couple will be performing songs from the new collection. The event will be held at Kum Yan Methodist Church from 7pm onwards. Admission is also free. You can indicate your interest to attend here.

About the author

Elvin and Esther Foong

Elvin and Esther have been happily married for 10 years; they have two children and are presently serving as full-time itinerant family and kids' ministers. They believe that parents' first ministry is in the home, and their first disciples are their own kids. Their vision is for a generation of spiritually healthy families to rise up and display Jesus' love to a lost and broken world. Elvin and Esther are the founders of The Treasure Box SG, a products and services company that equips and supports Christian families.