Do you listen to sermons and imagine various scenarios, putting yourself in a biblical story? Do you enjoy teaching children the truths in Scripture using simple everyday illustrations? Writing devotionals for kids and teens may be for you! But how should you begin?
Guidelines for Writing a Kid/Teen Devotional
The Keys for Kids website gives these helpful submission guidelines for their devotionals:
- Propose a title.
- Suggest an appropriate Scripture passage, generally three to 10 verses, to reinforce the theme of your story. (Give the reference only—do not write out the entire passage.)
- Tell a contemporary story with a spiritual application, written from the third-person point of view.
- Avoid Pollyanna-type children—make them normal, ordinary kids, not goody-goodies.
- Include an illustration of the lesson being taught—some everyday happening or object that illustrates a biblical truth. (See the examples in the Story Examples section below.) We rarely accept stories without an illustration of this kind.
- Make sure the spiritual truth in your story connects to the gospel–what Jesus has done for us and how that provides a framework for the story’s lesson.
- Avoid fairy tale endings.
- Teach one lesson only.
- Include some action and description, not just conversation.
- Some humor is good.
- Don’t be afraid of down-to-earth subjects kids face today. Divorce, abuse, pornography, racism, bullying, violence, substance abuse, and peer pressure can all be handled carefully and clearly.
- Keep in mind an age range of 6 to 12, but remember that Keys for Kids is often used in family devotions. Try to keep your story simple.
- The story should be around 350 words.
Visit Keys for Kids online daily devotional page for a sample story. Keys for Kids uses the New King James Version of the Bible for most devotionals, but are willing to accept a different version if you think it fits your story better.
Begin with a Key Thought
To help you flesh out your devotional, Keys for Kids suggests a short key thought (2-6 words) based on your story’s message, such as:
- Just like the moon reflects the sun, we as Christians reflect Christ.
- Is your love for Jesus lukewarm?
- Is your life salty?
Add a Verse, Hook and Focus
Choose a Bible passage and from that, compose a one or two sentence introduction that summarizes the focus of your devotional. Examples below. . .
EXAMPLE #1 Is your house filled with treasures?
PROVERBS 24:3-4 A house is built by wisdom and becomes strong through good sense. Through knowledge its rooms are filled with all sorts of precious riches and valuables.
MEDITATION: Wisdom is the tool used to build a spiritual house, with good sense as a foundation. Just as you fill the rooms with beautiful things, knowledge fills your heart and mind with treasures to help you live in this sometimes confusing world.
EXAMPLE #2 The Word is an abundant feast.
Colossians 3:16 ”Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
MEDITATION: Richly as an abundant feast. Eat deeply and broadly! She reads truth to find Jesus. He is on every page! Jesus is the Word. Are God’s Words sweet to your taste?
Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts. Jeremiah 15:16
There Must be Structure
Here is a blog post article, How to Develop Devotionals for Children, which gives you structure ideas.
In my experience, writing a devotional is much like writing a short story or blog post: it must have a hook at the beginning that hints at what is to come, keep your interest in the body of the piece, and have a satisfying ending.
It should also have a real time example from the present, past, or scripture to support your theme or point.
You’ve Got to Hook ’em
DevoKids, an online devotional, offers this helpful guideline:
HOOK: Catch your reader with a story or shocking statement.
BOOK: What is your key point, theme and interpretation of the passage?
LOOK: What is the big picture? How can your story be applied to the young reader’s life?
TOOK: What will the child take away? Is there a decision to be made? An action or challenge to take?
Use simple language, and avoid Christian jargon that is difficult to understand such as born again, holy, and reconciliation. These are all terms that should be explained with the child/teen reader in mind.
Where can you find ideas? Try photographs, Bible verses, childhood life experiences, nature, songs, etc.
Get started by clicking on the links below, and bless a child with your words:
Keys for Kids guidelines
Unlocked (teen devotional related to Keys for Kids) guidelines
As I was creating this blog post, I received an email from Unlocked announcing they had accepted my teen devotional entitled A Hero for Hard Times—an introduction to the book of Nehemiah. After filling out some simple paperwork, they told me I should receive my $30 payment in approximately three months! Not all publishers of devotionals pay, but this one does. And of course, payment is not my motivation for writing them. Getting kids thinking of the Bible as it applies to life is worth much more than any payment I could receive.
Have you considered writing devotionals for kids? If so, share a topic idea with us below. If not, is there anything holding you back? Sign up for our Writing Devotions Master Class and we’ll help you get started!