9 Ways to Use This Time at Home for Spiritual Growth & Learning
Now that we're all stuck at home, reflecting on how busy and chaotic life used to be, why not use that extra time to take a few "next steps" in your discipleship? Here are some great resources I would highly recommend for spiritual growth & learning while we weather this COVID-19 crisis.
Take Online Courses at Simeon Trust
Simeon Trust is a fantastic ministry that equips Christians to study and teach the Bible. They offer a series of online courses that cost just $9/each. Simeon's approach is based on a handful of core principles, which are covered in the "First Principles" course. I would suggest starting there. From there, though, you can also learn how to study & teach each major literary genre found in the Bible. I can't recommend Simeon highly enough! It's be so helpful in my growth and development as a preacher.
Take Online Courses at Ligonier Connect
Ligonier is a ministry associated with the late R.C. Sproul, a well-respected Presbyterian pastor & author. They offer an entire library of wonderful online courses, called Ligonier Connect. You can learn about many different biblical themes, doctrines, church history, and more. Ligonier Connect works on a subscription basis; it costs $9/month, or $90/year. (I can't recommend everything they teach -- like the class on baptism, for example -- but aside from a select few, I think you'll find the vast majority of their classes very helpful.)
Study the New City Catechism
The New City Catechism is an excellent resource produced by Crossway. If you're not familiar, the idea of a catechism is very simple. It's just a series of core doctrines, organized into a question & answer format -- a spiritual question is posed, and the biblical answer is given. The idea is to read through and commit the answers to memory. Of course, any catechism is only as good as its answers are biblical -- but I would highly recommend this one! You can access the catechism via their app (for iOS or Android), or order the book here.
Read a Classic Christian Book
Now is a great time to pick up a book you may otherwise not have the time to read. Rather than reading a latest best-seller, I would recommend a tried & true Christian classic -- something that has been read and cherished for decades. Here are just a few recommendations to get you started; I've listed them in order, based on how dense they are, from simple to complex: Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Knowing God by J.I. Packer, Desiring God by John Piper, Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther, Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin (more of a resource than a cover-to-cover read).
Read Ahead in Genesis 1-11
Once we finish our current series in the Gospel of Mark, we'll begin a new series in Genesis 1-11. To get a head start, you could read through these first 11 chapters of the Bible in your own devotional time. Take your time! They're meant to be read slowly, and carefully reflected on over time. As you read through them, look for a few key themes: Words & speech, good & evil, life & death, fruitfulness & multiplication, work & rest. Enjoy!
For the kids & family...
As parents, discipling our kids together is also a great use of this extra time at home. Here are a few great resources to help your kids engage the Bible and understand the gospel.
The New City Catechism for Kids
Similar to the version mentioned above, Crossway has also produced a more simple New City Catechism for kids -- probably best for ages 4 and up. The kids version can be found via their mobile app (for iOS or Android), or you can purchase the printed book here.
The Action Bible (Graphic Novel)
This graphic novel version of the Bible helps kids visualize the stories of Scripture. If you're not familiar with a "graphic novel," basically, it's just really long-form comic book, with illustrated scenes and word-bubble dialogue. This makes for a great bedtime read!
The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible (for Toddlers)
The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible includes most major stories of the Bible, written in an easy-to-understand format for toddlers. It's also filled with wonderful flat, minimalist illustrations. Each story takes just a minute or two to read, and then ends with a specific application that's meant to point us to the gospel in one way or another. This is great for family devotions! Just read a story, discuss the application, and then pray about it together.
The Jesus Storybook Bible (for ages 4+)
I just started reading The Jesus Storybook Bible with our (almost) 4 year old son, and he loves it! It's so well written and illustrated that, after most stories, both of us want to keep reading. The stories are a bit longer and more in-depth than The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible (above), so I would recommend starting this with kids near-or-over 4 years old. It's filled with rich theology, and it gives kids a big vision of God and redemptive plan. If your kids are old enough, this would also be great for family devotions. Read a story, discuss the application, and then pray about it together.
The truth is, most of us could probably benefit from some extended time at home -- with family and in quiet -- even if it may not feel very intuitive. Of course, plenty of this time can be well-spent just taking a walk, playing with your kids, or praying more intentionally. But I hope you find these resources helpful as you consider leveraging this time for learning and growth as a follower of Jesus.