A Devotional for the Spiritual Formation of Families by Lacy Finn Borgo and Ben Barczi The Good Dirt series of family devotionals is becoming one of my favorites as I continue a lifelong search for “just the right family devotional book.” I love the way Borgo and Barczi set the table for families to come together throughout the Christian calendar year (see Good Dirt: Advent, Christmastide, and Epiphany, and Good Dirt: Kingdomtide).
Because of my years of working with our children in worship and the particular method we’ve adapted, I am a big fan of the Calendar of the Church Year and I love the way the authors use it as a foundation for working through an entire year with your family. If you have children between the ages of 3 to 8, or if you’ve had children that age at Blacknall since 2006, they will be familiar with this method of thinking about the church year and so this devotional should click with their understanding of the language of our church life together. Borgo even gives instruction about creating a calendar of the church year with your children in the introduction to each of the books in the series. (There is one significant difference in her calendar and ours. See if your kids spot it!)
Rarely will I say about a family devotional “this book is something you must try,” but I’m saying it with these to myself and to anyone who asks!
What I like about the format of these devotionals is that there is no expectation that all the pieces be done in one sitting. The division of “till, plant, water, and weed” gives you some flexibility with how much to do when you’re together and also the rhythm of liturgy in your days. I love that and wish so much that I had been more liturgical with my own children in those foundational early years of bible reading and prayer. Another favorite aspect for me is how the authors give ideas for engagement and play that work with different ages—some great ones for little kids and sensible and provoking ones for older kids.
In the Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide books the authors do an excellent job of dealing with the seriousness and penitent spirit of Lent as well as the paradoxical wonder of Holy Week and Easter. Their emphasis on “the blessing of ritual” as we go through these seasons is a powerful reminder of how the Holy Spirit uses our life together as family and in the church to mature us in the faith.
Take some time to explore these books and consider them as a guide to praying and reading scripture with your children. Know that these books really do coincide with much of what we do with your children when they are in these four walls; the readings and prayer should provide wonderful connections with home and church.
I’m still working through these books myself, but I encourage you to take some time to consider how to incorporate them into your family life. Rarely will I say about a family devotional “this book is something you must try,” but I’m saying it with these to myself and to anyone who asks!
– Traci Hoover, Blacknall Director of Elementary Children’s Ministries