I recently had the opportunity to help a young man look up a Bible verse by its “address”. He was absolutely delighted by the experience. It captured his whole attention. I only had my phone with me when I saw him in the morning but that evening, I let him flip through my Bible. He rustled through the pages looking for Joshua 1:9 and when he found it, his little finger tracing the words, his whole face lit up.
I felt both thrilled and convicted; do I take time to realize the treasure under my fingers the way he did? And how often do I actually put the Bible into the hands of the kids I serve and let them read for themselves the inspired words on those pages? It’s so much easier to just throw up the key verse, do some memorizing together, and not fuss with those super thin pages, tiny print, and even tinier numbers.
But, even so, is there value in physically putting the Bible into a child’s hands? I think there is, but it has to be more than just putting it there. We need to talk about what Scripture is to us. They need to see that we love it too!
Children are information gatherers so if they never gather from us that the Bible has value, if they never see us reading it or studying it, why would they? A 2016 LifeWay Research study found 1 in 5 American Protestants said they had read all of the Bible at least once. However, more than half said they have read little or none of it.
Here are some common reasons that are given for not reading Scripture:
- It’s boring
- It’s out of touch with today’s culture/world
- We hear the important parts in church
- I don’t have time
All of those reasons are only valid if they actually relate to the reason we read Scripture in the first place.
Do we read the Bible for entertainment? No, not really. It’s not a novel or a work of fiction and while there are some entertaining parts for sure, its purpose isn’t to entertain.
Do we read it to get a commentary on the world today? No, that’s not really the intent. There are things that apply to our current culture and situation, but it wasn’t written to comment on today’s experiences.
Are there important parts and less important parts? Maybe but there doesn’t seem to be any differentiation in what we are given so it’s not really up to us to make that call.
Is it intended to be read in one sitting? No, certainly not. In fact, our modern translation conveniently breaks it up into chapters and verses that can take minutes or even seconds for us to read.
So, why do we read the Bible?
- Because God is revealed in Scripture (1 Tim. 3:16)
- Because God meets us in His Revelation (Acts 8:26-40)
- Because God invites us to come (Rom. 10:17)
- Because Scripture can be used by God to transform our hearts (Heb. 4:12)
Ultimately, we read to the Bible because God inspired the words, gifted them to us through his servants, and reveals Himself across time and space in the text. And in that place, we encounter His Grace.
What are some ways that we can give that gift to the next generation?
Let Them Flip The Pages
Yes, most of us use electronic Bibles these days but there is something uniquely special in turning the pages of a book. Giving kids the chance to get a feel for where books and chapters and verses are and letting them flip through the pages will feel special in a world where screens dominate.
Seek, Find, then Memorize
Most curriculums are set up so that the Key Verse for the month is handed out on slips of paper, shown on a screen with its own slide, accompanied with a song or motions and/or found on coloring sheets or activity papers. And that is all fine and good but the verse is then left to stand alone without context or placement.
Instead of starting with the memorization, consider beginning by having the kids find the verse, talk about what is going on (context), look at the verses before and after, and then begin memorization work.
Give Them a Bible
Many churches and parents gift Bibles to their kids as a rite of passage for certain ages or as a reward/award for accomplishing a task. That is fabulous! But often times that Bible gets left on a shelf and unused, like a trophy rather than a tool. So, encourage the kids to bring their Bible with them to church or to the living room with them, and if they don’t, have a few Bibles there that they can use, even if it’s just your own.
Make touching the Bible at least once each time you get to be with kids in discipleship or worship a goal during your time together.
Whenever one of my kids wanders into the room while I’m reading Scripture, I start reading aloud. Usually they will move closer and look over at the page. It may not be the most life-changing thing ever, but I hope that these moments will find a space in their heart to remember that Mom read the Bible and got something out of it, so maybe they should too.
Sometimes the incidental discipleship is just as important as the intentional discipleship. We don’t always need to program reading the Bible into discipling our kids; we just need to engage in it ourselves and invite them to participate with us when they show up.
A long time ago St. Augustine of Hippo said, “The Holy Scriptures are our letters from home.” Isn’t that a great way to think about it? We are reading words from our homeland where our citizenship lies with Christ. And that is a treasure worth passing on to those who come behind us.
For more information about
- Kids in Worship
- Determining which Type of Family Ministry model works best for your church
- Discipleship in Intergenerational community
- Encouraging the continued conversation through Practical Discipleship at Home
- Seminars, Workshops, Coaching
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About this Blog
Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and church planter at Plowshares BIC. With years of experience in family ministry and children’s ministry, she is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed
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