A nice option for Family Worship is to read the Bible together as a family. Of course, at first your family might feel this is boring, but it doesn’t have to be. There are lots of ways to make the reading enjoyable, to bring the scriptures alive. The April, 2009 Awake! article Young People Ask – How Can I Make Bible Reading Enjoyable? has a many great ideas that can be used when reading the Bible for family worship. Here are some of the suggestions:
Convert lists of names into family trees.
Create diagrams. For instance, as you read about a faithful character, connect that person’s qualities and acts with the blessings he or she received.
Draw pictures to illustrate the account.
Draw a storyboard, a series of simple pictures to illustrate a sequence of events. Describe what’s happening in each scene.
Build a scale model of structures, such as Noah’s ark.—For example, see Awake! of January 2007, page 22.
Read aloud — Assign one person to read the narration. Others can take on character parts.
Select an account, and turn it into a news story. Report the event from several perspectives by including “interviews” with the main characters and eyewitnesses.
Take an account in which a character made an unwise decision and imagine a different ending! For example, consider Peter’s denial of Jesus. (Mark 14:66-72) How could Peter have better responded to the pressure?
Write your own drama. Include lessons that can be learned from the account.—Perform this drama with a small group of your friends.
The article also provides several ideas on digging deeper into an account. This might be especially helpful for older children or even couples. Here are some of the ideas suggested:
Consider the setting. Examine the timing, location, and circumstances surrounding a passage.
Example: Read Ezekiel 14:14. About what age may Daniel have been when Jehovah mentioned him as a good example alongside Noah and Job?
Clue: Ezekiel chapter 14 was recorded just five years after Daniel was exiled to Babylon—likely as a teenager.
The hidden gem: Was Daniel too young for Jehovah to notice his faithfulness? What good decisions led to blessings for him? (Daniel 1:8-17) How can Daniel’s example help you to make good decisions?
Analyze details. Sometimes just a word or two is significant.
Example: Compare Matthew 28:7 with Mark 16:7. Why did Mark include the detail that Jesus would soon appear to the disciples “and Peter”?
Clue: Mark was not an eyewitness of these events; evidently, he got his information from Peter.
The hidden gem: Why must Peter have felt reassured to hear that Jesus wanted to see him again? (Mark 14:66-72) How did Jesus prove himself a real friend to Peter? How can you imitate Jesus and be a real friend to others?
Do further research. Consult Bible literature for explanations.
Example: Read Matthew 2:7-15. When did the astrologers visit Jesus?
Clue: See The Watchtower of January 1, 2008, page 31
The hidden gem: How, evidently, did Jehovah provide materially for Jesus’ family while they were in Egypt? How can trust in God help you to cope with stressful circumstances?—Matthew 6:33, 34.
Recently our entire family has had the wonderful privilege to study the Bible with people we have met in our ministry. Even our two children have started studies with others youths. While we are continually trained each week at our Christian meetings on how to study the bible with interested ones, we wanted to review as a family the basic aspects of conducting a Bible study. Ideally we were looking for a “how-to” guide that we could discuss as part of our Family Worship evening. While we could not find a single “how-to” guide, we did find a great series in past articles in Our Kingdom Ministry.
Starting in the July 2004 Our Kingdom Ministry through to August 2005 a series of 12 articles were published on Conducting Progressive Bible Studies. Part 1 starts with the basics of What Is a Bible Study. Each article provides specific aspects of conducting a Bible study with the final article, Part 12, coming full circle by focusing on Helping Students Start and Conduct Bible Studies. Other topics covered in the series include how to prepare and help students prepare, using the scriptures, how much material to cover, offering prayer, inviting them to meetings, and helping students to witness to others. Part 6 has an excellent article on When a Student Raises a Question and provides great pointers on how best to answer different questions without getting too side-tracked from the study.
While the articles are 12 years old, all of the suggestions are still valuable. When reviewing each section during our Family Worship evening we discussed how we could update some of the suggestions provided. For example, we talked about the more recent publications that could be used to study the bible such as the What Does the Bible Really Teach? book and the brochure Good News From God!. We also discussed how we could use JW.org and various videos with our Bible students. We started our Family Worship evening by watching the video What Happens at a Bible Study?.
Because JW.org only has Our Kingdom Ministry articles going back to 2010, you won’t be able to download them from the website. You can find them using the Watchtower Library application by just doing a search for “Conducting Progressive Bible Studies” and looking under the 2004 and 2005 Kingdom Ministry. We consolidated all of the articles from the various KMs into a single document that you can find here: Conducting Progressive Bible Studies Articles
An important skill in life is learning how to manage your time. Philippians 1:10 says, “Make sure of the more important things“. Teaching children this at a young age will help them immensely as they grow older. A good starting point is teaching them to balance the time they spend enjoying recreation with caring for their responsibilities.
JW.org has a great Balancing Recreation and Responsibility worksheet to help teach this principle. You can find it under the Bible Teachings – Teenagers – Worksheets section. The worksheet uses an effective illustration that compares recreation to sand, responsibilities to rocks, and a bucket to represent time. The order in which you put the sand and rocks into the bucket will determine if you can make them all fit. The illustration teaches the point that by putting your responsibilities first (the rocks) and then filling the time left with recreation (the sand) one can make the best use of their time (the bucket) and fit everything in. The worksheet then goes on to have each person analyze their personal recreation and responsibilities and see how best they can balance them in their lives.
We used this worksheet as a basis for a discussion during our family worship. We started by having each child perform the illustration themselves. Instead of sand, rocks, and a bucket we used sugar, corks and a cup. These were things we had readily around our home. (Yes, we had plenty of extra corks at home!) They did it twice, once putting the sugar (sand) in first and the second time putting the corks (rocks) in first. This helped make the illustration stand out and be memorable.
Everyone loves movie night! One of the suggestions in the article Ideas for Family Worship and Personal Study, found in the August 15, 2011 issue of the Watchtower, is to watch and discuss a Bible-based video from time to time. There are many videos to choose from on the JW Broadcasting website. The article Family Worship – Can You Make It More Enjoyable? , in the March 15, 2014 issue of the Watchtower magazine, suggests preparing questions ahead of time. You can go over the questions before watching the video and then discuss them afterwards.
We recently decided to review the history of the modern-day organization by watching the video series Jehovah’s Witnesses-Faith in Action over two weeks. The first week we watched Part 1: Out of Darkness. The following week we watched Part 2: Let the Light Shine. For each video we used the questions found in the April 2012 Kingdom Ministry and the May 2012 Kingdom Ministry. Each article has 14 review questions for each video. This provided an easy and simple way to prepare for our family worship and to get the most out of watching each video.
Below is a list of other videos and corresponding articles with review questions:
Our children’s generation is a video generation. They enjoy watching amateur videos via YouTube, Instagram and other like sites much more than traditional TV that we grew up watching. They also enjoy making videos of t
heir own and are very good at using the variety of powerful yet simple video editing software available today. With this in mind we decided to do a video project for family worship.
The goal was to create a video about a Bible character. We didn’t want to be to rigid on how to do it but instead wanted to encourage our children to be creative and have fun. We outlined that the video should include background abo
ut the person and their family, details about the major event(s) in their life, and what we can learn and/or imitate from their example. We did this over two weeks. Week one we picked the person and began researching information about them. They worked on their videos throughout the week and during our next family worship evening we watched and discussed their final video projects.
The end result was great, as our children created video projects that exceed our expectations. They not only learned more about their Bible character but also learned more about how to do research using the variety of tools provided. They put in a lot of effort and really enjoyed the process. Our daughter created a video about Rahab using various pictures, video clips and a home made video she created using her dolls. Our son created a video trivia game about Noah doing all of the programming and research himself. We were surprised at how well it turned out and how much they got out of the exercise. Attached below for download are the Rahab video and the Noah trivia game (for both Mac and Windows) that our children created. Enjoy!
As our children continue to progress in the ministry we want to help them improve and expand their skills as ministers. Even for us who have been in the truth awhile, we find it helpful to review and continually work to improve our skills. We took some time during our recent family worship evening to work on learning how to make and improve our return visits.
Using three articles from Our Kingdom Ministry, we broke down how to make a return visit into three steps:
Laying the groundwork for a return visit
What to say when we return
How to demonstrate a Bible Study
We first reviewed the article Improving Our Skills in the Ministry-Laying the Groundwork for a Return Visit found on page 1 of the Sept. 2014 Kingdom Ministry. This helped us to think about what we might plan to say during our initial presentation each month that will lay the groundwork for a return visit. This was new for our children as up to this point our focus had been on just how to preach to others on our initial visit. The article helped us prepare a follow-up questions to answer the next time we visit.
The next article we reviewed was What Will You Say When You Return? found on page 8 of the Jan. 1992 Kingdom Ministry. This article provides lots of great examples on how we can continue our conversation based on what we learned about the person from the previous visit. It really helped us figure out the hardest part of a return visit, how to start the conversation. It also provided some good pointers on what not to say when we return.
The last article we reviewed was Improving Our Skills in the Ministry-Demonstrating a Bible Study Using the Bible Teach Book found on page 1 of the Dec. 2014 Kingdom Ministry. This helped us think about how we can reach our goal of starting a Bible Study with someone. It provides a real simple approach on how to briefly and easily show someone a Bible Study during our visit. We also discussed how we could incorporate showing the video What Happens at a Bible Study? during our visit.
After reviewing the above we worked to pull all of it together into a presentation. We each discussed a specific return visit that we have and how we would plan to make our next visit. We then practiced it with one another. We also created a little “cheat sheet” outline that can be used to show someone a Bible Study using a variety of tracts and publications. It is brief and prints small so you can cut it out and keep in your Bible. You can download a copy of what we use here: Return Visit Cheat Sheet
When you meet someone who speaks another language, what do you do? A great new tool has been provided on JW.org to help us preach to someone who speaks a foreign language. We decided to develop a simple presentation we could use if we met someone who spoke Spanish, as this is the most prevalent foreign language in our territory. We did this using the JW Language app. As part of our family worship we learned to use this new app and to set it up so it will be ready for us when we need it.
JW Language is an official app produced by Jehovah’s Witnesses to help language learners improve their vocabulary and communication skills in the ministry and at congregation meetings. You can learn more about the app, get a link to download it, and watch a video about it here on JW.org.
As an introduction for the evening we watched the cute Caleb and Sophia video Preach in a Foreign Language. We then each made sure we had the app downloaded and setup for use with our selected language, Spanish. We reviewed the various features and got comfortable with how it works. We then discussed what we could use as a simple presentation.
One of the great features of JW Language is that you can save specific phrases you want to remember to a Favorites list by selecting the star next to any phrase in the app. This will save it to the Favorites list in the order you select it. By selecting a series of phrases you can create a simple presentation that you can quickly pull up when you are out in the ministry. The app will even let you listen to someone saying the phrase in the language so you can learn how to say it correctly. We spent time as a family coming up with the following list of phrases for our presentation:
I am pleased to meet you.
Do you speak ____?
I don’t speak ____ very well.
My name is ____?
What is your name?
I am a Jehovah’s Witness.
I would like to give you this tract.
This is the address of our website.
See you later.
We saved each of these phrases to our Favorites list by selecting the star. We listened to each phrase and practiced saying it. Then we each took turns practicing the presentation with a tract.
There are a couple of optional activities that you might do as well to make things more challenging. One would be to have someone play the part of a householder who speaks one of the other languages provided by the app and have another person use the app to do a presentation without knowing in advance what the language is. Another activity could be to learn some phrases that could be used when visiting a congregation in a foreign language and then plan to attend a local meeting in that language and use what you have learned.
The JW Language app is an incredibly useful tool to help us help more people learn about Jehovah. There are lots of other great features in the app including a flash card mode to help you practice memorizing your presentation and phrases. We plan to regularly take a few minutes during our family worship evening to practice our new language skills using this app.
This is a modified version of the classic game of charades. The goal of the game is to help us all become better prepared to be adaptable in the field ministry. Each person takes turns playing the part of a householder with another person being the Witness knocking on their door. The householder will present a different situation that the Witness will try to adapt to using whatever “tools” they have brought with them. We tried to focus on learning to use new features in our Bibles (like the section An Introduction To God’s Word) , using jw.org, remembering key scriptures, and using specific tracts or publications. There is no score, no winning or losing, just each person becoming better equipped to give a witness. – 2 Timothy 3:17
The game starts with one person acting as a householder. That person selects a random slip of paper from a bowl that describes how they should act when the Witness knocks on their door. The second player acts at Witness out in the ministry. They should have their Bible, witnessing bag, smart device, or anything else they would normally take in the ministry. Using the direction from the slip of paper, the householder should present a challenge to the Witness. The Witness will then try to give a witness to the householder using the Bible and whatever else they may want to use (publication, tract, jw.org, video, etc.).
The slips of paper can include a variety of situations. Some might be speaking a different language, being deaf or blind, holding a belief such as the Trinity or evolution, having a question such as why God permits suffering or why we don’t accept blood transfusions, or maybe the person has lost a loved one in death or recently lost their job. Whatever they are, they should be varied and realistic as to represent the types of people we might meet in our ministry. We also included a “wildcard” where the householder can do whatever they want, and maybe have a little fun with it too. You can easily just cut up some strips of paper, write the various situations on them and put them in a bowl. I created some simple sheets with topics that can be printed and cut out for use that can be downloaded here.
A nice variation to the game is to do it as though the Witness is witnessing informally. With this version the Witness would only have one item such as a Bible or smart device with jw.org to use. The setting could be at school, public transportation, at the doctor’s office, etc. Also, if there are very young ones involved, they could be the assistant who rings the doorbell, gives the tract, reads the scripture or has some part as well. As added fun we like to use one of the bedroom doors so as to have a “real” door to knock on when playing.
Here is a great way to combine learning about the modern history of Jehovah’s Witnesses with a hands-on craft. A brother in Pennsylvania is a very talented artist and has created a bunch of “theocratic” crafts that are sold on Etsy.com. Two interesting ones are a model of a sound car and the original Watchtower building at 25 Columbia Heights, in Brooklyn New York. They are both downloadable PDF files that you can then print, cut out, and assemble. They also come with an assembly guide. One thing to note is that these models are very detailed and young ones will definitely require the help of someone older to cut them out and figure out how to assemble them. You can find the downloads of the models for sale on Etsy.com here.UPDATE: These are no longer being made available.
These can be used with family worship when discussing our modern history. One great source for articles is the “From Our Archives” series in recent Watchtowers. The August 2013 (Study Edition) has an article that discussed the use of a sound car. There is a great video about the sign on top of the Brooklyn Bethel building on jw.org called Sign of the Times as well as an article “The Watchtower Sign—A Longtime Brooklyn Landmark“. There are also lots of related information in the Proclaimers book ( Jehovah’s Witnesses – Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom).
There are a lot of great videos on jw.org and we like to review them as part of our family worship. Recently we watched the video Does God Have a Name?. Afterwards we played a Jeopardy-like quiz game to help review the key points from the video. I got the idea from another brother who shared several websites that can help make such games. A simple Google search of something like “make your own jeopardy game” will show several web sites that can help creating such a game.
I created a game on my iPad using an app called “Buzz-monster“. The app is very well done, allowing for up to 3 people to play together on the same iPad. Each having their own button to “buzz” in. The app makes it very easy to create questions and multiple choice answers. It also enables you to easily add pictures, audio and video to the questions. Like Jeopardy, the questions are grouped in categories and assigned point values. Each player takes turns picking a category and point value. A question is displayed and the first person to press their button is shown a list of multiple choice answers to choose from. If they select the correct one they get the points associated with the question.
For the video Does God Have a Name? I created 5 categories: Using God’s name, Other languages, Many gods, Archeology, and Scriptures. Each category had five questions, like “In english God’s name is rendered Jehovah, and it is also sometimes rendered this“. Using this along with the video really encouraged our family to take notes and play close attention to all of the detail presented in the video. It also led to much discussion after each question, especially on the hards ones that were guessed incorrectly.