When was the last time you studied the Bible with your child? Not reading to them but studying with them. The Bible is the one book we Christians believe gives us a unique peek at God’s will and God’s way - so why not study it?
I remember Angel, my wife, and me reading children’s Bibles to our kids when they were babies and toddlers. It became much more difficult to hold their attention for story time as they got older, especially as they were at different developmental levels (one needs a cardboard book while one is starting chapter books). I’ve been frustrated by our inability to adapt our family engagement with the Bible as the kids have aged. Maybe you’ve encountered the same obstacles as your kids age.
Despite our setbacks, I’ve discovered that we can effectively study the Bible with our kids. Having an evening Bible study with your kids is easier than you think. Here are some simple steps to making Bible study with your kids a reality:
- SCHEDULE IT - I’m learning that things that don’t get scheduled don’t get done and vice versa. You put priorities on your schedule: meetings, gym, dates, etc. Is helping your child to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ a priority? Decide how often you’ll do Bible study. Maybe twice a week, maybe three nights, maybe every. Whatever it is, schedule it. Don’t put it on a to-do list. Put it on the calendar.
- HAVE A PLAN - To succeed at Bible study with your child, you need a plan. Here’s a few options:
- Catechism - Echo, a contemporary Methodist question-answer catechism to teach basic Christian beliefs, complete with Scripture references (available at store.seedbed.com). If you explore how our theology makes a real-world difference, a catechism can be an effective tool to learn about God while experiencing God, too.
- Sunday School-based - Perhaps the easiest way to start is by using the tools provided through Sunday School. At Crossroads, we have a parent-focused Sunday School class (currently led by my wife and me) that studies the same Bible stories our kids study in their class. We focus on equipping you with tools to engage that story with your child throughout the week. We provide insights into the biblical text and practical activities to do with your child. Whatever you do, have a plan.
- BE PREPARED - Get your materials together ahead of time for your scheduled Bible study. My Sunday School class (FaithWeaver Parents) often encourages hands-on activities to explore the themes of a biblical text. We use wadded up paper, draw pictures, sculpt play-do and act out stories. If you need scissors, paper and crayons for your study, have them ready beforehand.
- KNOW YOUR FAMILY - Every family is different, every child is different. I’ve learned that my kids can sometimes do Bible study together with us but other times it’s more effective to work with them one on one. Maybe you need to schedule a night where you study with just one of your children, or maybe you grab breakfast at McDonalds and discuss a Bible story. That’s ok! Just make sure they all get the attention and engagement they need.
- EXPECT RESISTANCE - When you prioritize spiritual growth for your family, expect spiritual resistance. A red-horned devil with pitchfork will not show up and dance on your dining room table but the Bible is clear that unseen spiritual forces resist God’s ways. I’m not expert in how these evil forces work but I do know from my own experience that anytime we try to take a step forward in God’s way, we meet resistance. It may be grouchy kids or something that ruined your mood for Bible study five minutes before you’re set to begin. Here’s good advice: PRAY. Pray for your kids, pray for your Bible study and pray against any resistance or obstacles to your family Bible study.
- SHOW SOME GRACE - Verily, verily I say unto thee, you will have plenty of nights when you got home later than expected, the kids are being a pill or life is just a hot mess and everyone just needs to go to bed. Brothers and sisters, hear the good news: THAT’S OK. Don’t be discouraged and dejected by life’s interruptions. Don’t beat yourself up or berate your kids that you missed a scheduled time of Bible study together. Get up, dust yourself off and get back on the horse. Your kids need to see you not only prioritize learning God’s ways in Scripture but they also need to see you model what you’ve learned, and God is big on second chances.