Some of our best parental memories from when our five children were young involve bedtime. We made a habit of having an age-appropriate kids’ Bible for each child. At bedtime each night, in addition to praying, talking, and sometimes singing together while snuggling up, we would read and discuss Bible stories. As the children got older, they would read to us, as well.
As the children grew, we started increasing the depth of our dinner time discussions around a passage of the Bible. Our family has never followed a formal curriculum or been very structured, even though that can also work well for some families. Our goal was to have the Bible be a normal, natural, helpful, and enjoyable part of life. Just like going for family walks, eating dinner together, playing whiffle ball together, and watching movies together, we talk about the Bible together. Thankfully, each of our children has, thus far, continued to enjoy learning the Bible.
Our goal was not just to tell the children what to do, but rather teach them how to think about the Bible for themselves. We wanted them to know the Bible enough that thinking was an act of worship, or what Jesus called loving God with all your mind.
When it comes to helping children to think biblically, seven principles can be helpful.
- Ideally, start early. Second Timothy 3:15 says of Timothy, “From infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” God the Holy Spirit, who inspired the writing of Scripture, is amazingly helpful at assisting even a young child to begin to understand the Word of God.
- Look for the teachable moments. If Bible study is something that only happens on a set day at a set hour, a lot of opportunity can be lost. In addition to regular times, there are also teachable moments when God provides parents the opportunity to teach a child whose heart and mind are open. Deuteronomy 6:6–7 says, “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Yes, the grocery store, soccer field, and car ride in traffic include opportunities to discuss the Bible in practical ways. This is very much like Jesus raising up His disciples by talking with them as they ate food, went for walks, and did chores together in relationship.
- If both mom and dad are Christians, they should each help the children think biblically. Proverbs is a book of the Bible that includes the example of a mom and dad both teaching their kids biblical truth. Proverbs 1:8 says, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching” As both parents grow, they can help the child grow, as well.
- Keep it practical. The mother and father in Proverbs speak with their children about practical matters of life in relation to God. They cover such topics as friends (1:10–16, 4:14), work (6:10–11, 10:5), sex (5:1–22, 6:24-26, 7:1–27, 29:3, 31:1–3), money (15:27), beer (31:4), food (28:7), language (4:24, 20:20, 23:15–16, 30:11, 31:28), and respecting elders (30:17).
- You won’t regret repitition. One key to learning is repeating. You cannot simply tell a children something one time and expect them to remember it forever. Instead, you may have to repeat Bible verses and principles over and over for them to really stick with the children. In Proverbs, for example, the parents explain the importance of wisdom in comparison to folly to their children over and over..
- Set an example. A Godly parents should have a good study Bible in the house that the kids see them read. A Godly parents should have Bible reference books and/or software in the home that they use for deeper study and teach the kids to use.
- Don’t bore your kids with the Bible. Make up fun Bible questions for quizzes. Get family members dressed up in costumes to act out fun Bible stories – like the time that our young son stood on the dinner table pretending to be Zacchaeus up in a tree while we laughed. We even took our kids to a secondhand store to pick out outlandish dress-up clothes so we could be soldiers, wise men, dragons, princesses, and shepherds. One of my favrite costumes was a big, fake, muscular Goliath who got killed when one of the kids hit him in the head with a fake rock.
How is your Bible reading and study? How could it improve? How is the Bible reading and study of your child? Do they have a good age-appropriate Bible? For some suggestions on Bibles for young children, as well as other Bible study resources, visit markdriscoll.org/allbooks/#childrensbible