For the next few weeks I would like to share some practical direction, with detailed examples, of how I do Bible time with my kids. This is my method, it’s not for everyone. Furthermore, it may change. Though I have used quite a few methods and this really feels like something I could stick with for a long, long time.
My kids range in age – 10, 9, 7 and 5. That means that they have different levels of understanding and even ability to really focus for the duration of what we are doing, but overall they do well. We do all of life with this mix of cognitive and social maturity.
The method I am using here requires at least a couple of pre-requisites. The first is general and really applies to any type of teaching/coaching situation – my children’s ability to obey me. It’s not perfect – they can get squirmy and distracted – but in general when it’s time to sit and have a talk with their father, it can be done.
The second presumes Bible knowledge on my part, because I am just basically teaching them the Bible, directly from the text. Granted, you don’t have to be a seminary level Bible teacher to teach your kids the Bible, but you do need to know something about what you are teaching them, or at least do some prep beforehand.
In this post I would like to do two things; first, I’d like to describe the method I am using in general; second, I would like to address the biggest hurdle to Bible time with the kids – motivation. In the posts to come I will address more specifically how I prepare the kids and encourage them to participate and listen, as well as walk through 2-3 very practical examples of what this looks like for us, almost word for word.
In general, here is the method I am using – We take about 10-12 minutes discussing and praying about a verse – or part of a verse – from the Bible. We do not use a kids Bible, a study guide, a kids devotional, or anything like that. This is not because I do not think you should use these things, it is because this is what works for me. Historically, there have been two areas of struggle when trying to do Bible time with my kids: motivation (which I’ll cover below) and method. I have used various materials designed for kids (Jesus Storybook Bible, Long Story Short, etc…) and have even gone so far as to have us act out different Bible scenes. These have been fun, they have been helpful in ways, and we may still do variation of these in the future. But for now, for us, it just feels fruitful, feasible and just plain good to walk into my kids’ room with a Bible in hand and just teach it.
Which brings me to my final point in this post - walking into my kids’ room to teach the Bible. This is where I feel the pinch. When it comes time to do it, I can struggle with various temptations, and still give in to them at times. One of the temptations is to give in to being tired. Because of when we do Bible time, at bedtime, it has been a long day. I have probably been up for 16 hours, working for 10, and spending a lot of time talking with people about the Bible. It can be very tempting to just give in at this point and relax. Of course there are other times we could do this, like before, during, or after dinner. But this is the time I have chosen, and even with all the temptation and tiredness, I still think it is best.
The second temptation I struggle with is just plain spiritual warfare. Satan does not want me to disciple my children. In my flesh, I do not want to disciple my children. I just want to chill. The temptation is to tell myself that they will be ok, they get Bible at other times with their mother, we’ll get to it tomorrow, etc… Sticking my heart in the sand. It’s interesting how I can be very productive, working hours on end, booking meetings on end, and feeling pretty good about it. I stay motivated, I stay positive, I don’t tire easy, I love my work, I can go and go and go. But, when it’s time to do Bible with the kids, now I’m tired, now I’m busy, now I’m demotivated. Folks, welcome to the war against the spiritual forces of darkness. A war that I believe will never end. It may lessen, it may heighten. It will not end this side of heaven.
So now, the choice is before me. How will I live? Who will disciple my children? Who will preach the gospel to them? Who will teach them Bible? Who will pray for and with them? In this fight I have to get very clear on the options. Either I will disciple my children, or I will not. And if I will, now is the time. So I pray, I ask God for help, I discipline myself, I tell my wife I want to do this so I can be accountable, and I do it. And I can tell you this – I always come out of these Bible times encouraged and blessed. I have never regretted it. And I am hopeful that as we spend the next years doing hundreds of Bible studies together, that my children will catch a vision for the supremacy of Christ and his gospel.
So, as a pastor, I am praying for the church that God would grant us the grace to resist the evil one, and enter into the joys of washing our children with the Word. There really aren’t many more important things than this in the world - if any - and therefore, there aren’t many more rewarding things. So let’s trust God, lean into him for help, and teach these kids some Bible!