The Very Best, Hands-On, Kinda Dangerous Family Devotions by Tim Shoemaker

The Synopsis:

As parents hoping to raise godly children, we may understand the importance of regular family devotions. However, we may find it difficult to get our kids (or even ourselves) fully engaged. But what if devotions looked less like sitting in the living room listening to someone read and trying to pry answers out of reluctant kids and more like, say, electrocuting a pickle? Or converting a leaf blower into a toilet paper launcher? Or lighting toothpaste on fire?

These hands-on, kinda dangerous, totally unforgettable object lessons (along with nearly fifty others) are not only more fun than other family devotions–they actually deliver the spiritual impact you desire for your kids. They’ll even get dads and any too-cool-for-this-stuff teens jazzed about a weekly family devotional time.

So put away the flannelgraph, get out the safety goggles, and start bringing the truths of Scripture to vivid life in your household. Just remember to change out of your Sunday clothes first.

I received this book from the author for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are entirely my own.


I grew up in a home in which we had family devotions before school every single morning, for pretty much most of my life. And you guessed it, as a child, I wasn’t a huge fan. It was boring to listen to an hour of my mom reading an “instruction manual” (it sounded like) and woke me up an hour earlier than I wanted to be awake (kids gotta have sleep!). And most of the times, these “family devotions” ended with at least one of us six kids (though let’s be real, it was probably all of us) in trouble for having an attitude or complaining. Bless my mom’s heart.

Looking back, an activity book like this one probably would have benefited my family a lot because it’s interactive. The Very Best, Hands-On, Kinda Dangerous Family Devotions is meant to be used weekly, instead of daily, so that alone is an improvement for families that struggle with coordinating schedules (like mine).

In the beginning of the book, the author writes in his Ending the Start and Stop Syndrome:

If the kids are missing something important to them, it will be hard to hold their attention no matter what you do. If you don’t hold their attention, you’ll probably quit.

This advice alone needs to be plastered on every billboard! That is precisely the reason I don’t think my family every finished more than maybe 3 books total from start to finish.

I really like the activities the author uses and his messages and topics are fresh, exciting, and unique. For the 52 devotions included, there is a list of materials needed, how to put together whatever prop you’ll be using, safety precautions (because, um, electrocuting pickles could potentially end badly), and the lesson for the day is written out (so you don’t have to give an impromptu speech with just bullet points listed).

There are two things that will keep me from absolutely loving this book though. The first is that there is a LOT of preparation needed and if you don’t have a lot of the stuff lying around, then there’s potentially a lot of purchasing needed. That’s great if you have a lot of free time to make this stuff and extra money to buy the materials, but not all families will have that kind of freedom. There are quite a few activities that don’t require as much preparation or money, but that seriously dwindles down the list of activities available.

The second is that I really don’t see older teens getting involved in some of these lessons. Kids? Absolutely! They’ll love it! But 15-17? I don’t see it. Unless you get them to help you make the props and maybe even demonstrate them to the younger kids while you read the lesson, I think a lot of the activities would receive an eye-roll (in a family-only setting…now, if a youth group did some of these activities, they might accept it more…you know how teens are).

That’s another point. This book isn’t really designed for small families. Most activities would require at least two kids (you could improvise and make it work for just one) but, it would almost be ideal to have three or four (or more…). So it really would be great for churches, youth groups, or even multiple family studies. It’s a great resource, of that I do not deny in the least, and the lessons are well-written and exciting, but it just might not be a “one-size-fits-all” devotion.

Still, I give it 4 out of 5 stars and do encourage you to look into this book if you are hitting a resistance wall from the kids in your family devotions. It very well might be the perfect fit for your family!

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