Volume 1 of Character Building for Families is a terrific Bible Study and character training program for the whole family. It might be used for "school" or for family devotion time with little ones as young as three or four years old up through ages eleven or twelve. (Teens should have already studied and learned most of this.) It features detailed, daily lessons for one school year in the character traits of obedience, orderliness, diligence, loyalty, deference, cheerfulness, gentleness, contentment, gratitude, truthfulness, service, and hospitality. The number of lessons devoted to each trait varies. Some lessons might be completed in as little as ten minutes, but most should take about twenty minutes or a little longer. Each lesson should ideally be done by the entire family together, although Mom might lead it if Dad is unavailable.
Each lesson directs us in Scripture reading, discussion, and prayer. Typical is an obedience lesson that begins with memorization of Philippians 4:13 and Luke 22: 42b. Next, we read John 8: 28 - 29. This is followed by questions: "Who was directing Jesus' life and actions?" and "What did Jesus say about His obedience to His Father?"
These questions are followed by statements we can read or restate: "We should make it our goal to let our lives be guided by the Holy Spirit, as Jesus did. We should want to always please the Father, too." After this, we read Mark 14:36 and "review what is happening in this verse."
The lesson continues in this vein through one more Scripture passage and some discussion, ending with prayer. Answers to questions are shown in parentheses when appropriate. Lessons often deal with practical application such as a lesson that stresses practicing kindness with our tongues to other family members. I appreciate the occasional reminders to review a basic concept and reinforce memory verses and principles.
An unusual feature of this program is the inclusion of Mom and Dad in the study. For example, parents' responsibility before God is mentioned frequently, and suggested prayers are often for the entire family to grow in Godly character rather than just children. I like the "real family" feel of this program. Too often in other programs, scripted questions sound phony and cannot be used without rephrasing them, but in this case the questions sound natural and can be used as is. The mix of Bible reading, memorization, discussion, and prayer is just right to keep the attention of wiggly young ones and impatient older ones. Well, we might lose the preschoolers after five minutes, but this is one of the most practical and worthwhile no-frills programs for Bible study or family devotions I have seen.
Volume 2 is similar in format to Volume 1. It is divided into five units: stewardship, teachableness, mercy, patience, and desire for Jesus. Volume 1 should be completed before moving on to Volume 2.