When I was a young mum I once asked a minister’s wife how they taught their children the Bible. They answered that they didn’t need to, their kids went to a Christian school. Well, I was surprised with this comment but I have now heard it so often that it no longer stuns me, it just disappoints me.
What about sending them to Sunday school that will teach them the Bible wont it-well yes! It hopefully will teach them some Bible, but is that enough, and are they learning it or is it seed falling on stony ground.
Well, let me say firstly that this is a long term project. Just whipping through a particular book and then Ala Kazzam-Ding! Voila--they know it. That is wishful thinking! This process takes time.
As a 40 something Mum and a Christian for over a quarter century, I still could learn a lot more about the Bible. So this process is ongoing and changes from dependence on parents to independent learning as they mature.
Our children are our disciples. They were given to us by God, and as parents, we are the ones charged with the responsibility of nurturing them in the ways of the Lord. We have many resources at our fingertips as parents we are the one who need to embrace the challenge of teaching them the Word of God.
I acknowledge that this seems like a daunting task and it is tempting to take a socialistic view and fob it off to the authorities, the Sunday school curriculum, scripture classes or the school but is that how God wants you to approach it. I would argue NO! These are all tools in the tool chest but God’s model is for us to be teaching them constantly about Him and His Word.
“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 11:18-19.
Teaching the Bible requires a consistent approach that is ever changing. I have read how some do it and I have added some of their ideas into our tool chest. What I wanted was to share with you how we do it. It isn’t a strict formulae but I hope in reading this you will be inspired by some of my ideas and glean some techniques or resources that you can use for yourself.
We started with a children’s bible from when they could sit on our lap. Every night we read a small story from that Bible to our children. The book has fallen apart now but with four children it was well used. Our aim in those years was to teach them the main characters of the Bible. The stories are exciting and the kids find the miracles fascinating. For one child he asked to look at the “water rock” picture every night for about a year, (Moses strikes the rock and water flows).
Children can start to learn simple doctrine from about three. The best resource that I have found for this is Leading Little Ones to God by Marion Schooland. Her simple doctrine explanations and questions are very appropriate for young children. You can read this book through a few times. Our oldest kids have had the book read to them about four times.
Using books that tell the stories of the Bible in a narrative form can also help young children get into the story. Choose your books carefully making sure that they don’t add in extra doctrine. We enjoyed the Bible Story by Arthur Maxwell. I remember crying my eyes out as I read about Moses dying on the mountain.
We have also found as they are older (around 5 or 6 ) reading aloud Bible fiction that is based on Bible stories can also help them to understand the Bible stories as they emotionally connect with the characters;
I almost stumbled upon this approach. I wanted to incorporate written narration (writing the story in their own words) of the Bible. Since my two youngest were only 5 and 7 at the time I decided that they could use a notebook to illustrate the story. Boy! Am I glad I did. What an incredible tool this is-teaching a child to tell the story of God through illustrations. This was such a fruitful experience for the children and for one particular child I saw the most intuitive understanding of the text. I find this technique works best when you use historical narratives such as Genesis, Exodus, Samuel and the Gospels. We do this for one Bible book and then give it a rest as they can tire of it. Here are a few pictures from those days.
Putting the Bible in context for our children is essential. When they have the groundwork of knowing the stories we can then begin to teach them how it all fits together.Jesse Tree at Christmas time. This helps them learn the genealogy of Jesus. This is excellent for younger children. Another excellent resource is to use Old Testament History Study Guide. I found this resource really helped us all understand the sequence of events. I can’t rave enough about this resource. You can buy it as an ebook and it took me ages to buy it and when I started using it I was kicking myself for not getting it earlier.
This might sound a bit “heavy” for children but it is such an important aspect of their Bible knowledge. It will help protect them from teaching that undermines the authority of the Bible. They need to understand about defending their faith. They need to know why believing the word of God is not stupid or foolish. Learning apologetics can be found in Archaeology and Creation Science.
Well I am only going to discuss this one sheepishly, for I haven’t been terrible diligent with scripture memory. I have tried the card approach to teaching memorization but I found it all a bit dry and I kept forgetting to drill them. Excuses! Excuses! But I have used songs. Colin Buchannan’s Music is full of scripture and we have learnt portions of scripture with his CD’s.
As the children get older I encourage them to read the Bible on their own. For one journaling from the Bible works, for the other just working through the Bible seems to be what they prefer. If you have given them a love for the Word and reinforced the importance of it in their lives, having them read the on their own is a natural progression.
One thing that I haven’t discussed yet that is essential is praying. Praying for God’s wisdom and understanding as we read the Word. Jesus is the Word and we want to teach our children the life giving message of the Bible. This infusion of life should be in every lesson. Teach them that Jesus is in our midst, that the Holy Spirit helps us to understand the Scriptures and that this Holy book draws us closer to the Father.
Basically that is how we have approached teaching the Bible in our home. Our children have a healthy respect for the Bible and understand basic doctrine.
Although teaching the Bible may seem like hard work and take a lot of time, when I look back I am thankful that we have been able to spend so much time learning the Word of God.
One of the excellent by-products of teaching our children is that it teaches us all over again.