Teach the Bible to Kids in Fun Ways
Of all the things you do in parenting the most important job you have is to teach your children godly values and convictions. The Bible is the guidebook for life and when people, including children, follow it, then good things happen. But how can you teach children about the scriptures without making the process boring? Or worse yet, some parents only use the scriptures to correct their kids, giving their children the impression that God’s primary task in our lives is to judge us.
Warning: Kids Can Get the Wrong Impression of God
If your only use of prayer and the scriptures is to correct kids, you give children the wrong impression about God. He also is the one who delights to spend time with us, affirms that we are his kids, and leads us every day. Those positive parts of our relationship with God are also communicated in family life to kids. The use of God’s Word in parenting is important and here are some suggestions about communicating the message well.
First of all, you want your children to learn that the Bible is relevant. We’re sure that you believe that the Bible is relevant to your life, but do your kids believe that the scriptures are relevant for them? One of the ways that you can help kids apply God’s Word now is to end Bible stories with this question: “What’s the lesson we learn from that story?” After all, telling kids a story about Daniel and the lions is different than telling the story about the three bears. The Bible is relevant. Kids can learn practical lessons now that will impact their lives. By asking that one question kids learn to apply the scriptures at any age.
Another goal is to communicate to your children that the Bible is exciting. Devotions shouldn’t be confined to the dinner table. Get kids running around, hunting for treasure, and solving problems. Remember that the language of children is activity. When teaching children spiritual truths it’s best to use their own language. The family devotion time should be the most fun time of the week. If you speak their language they’ll not only enjoy family devotions but they’ll beg for more.
For example, cooperation and leadership in family life can be a challenge. You might take the story of Moses and the burning bush and talk about some of the reasons why Moses might not have wanted to lead the people of Israel. He might make a mistake and people will laugh, people might not listen to him, he might not know what to do, etc. Then play the “You be the Leader” game in your family.
This game has three parts. In the first part, choose an activity and someone to lead. The activity might be cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, washing the car, raking the leaves, organizing the playroom, shopping for groceries, or some other household chore. The leader could be Dad or Mom or one of the children. It’s best to play this several times and change the leader.
In the second part of the activity the leader leads the family to complete the task. This is often a challenge when a seven-year-old or fifteen-year-old is leading, but that’s all part of the lesson. Don’t break roles and take over the leadership.
When Dad isn’t the leader, he might intentionally begin to argue and then catch himself and say, “Oh, I’m sorry. That wasn’t honoring.” When Mom isn’t leading, she may begin to complain in a whiny voice. Actions like these add to the fun and become visual examples of problems that followers experience.
The third part of the game is the most important. Sit down and discuss the experience. Ask questions like, “What did you find difficult about leading?” “What did you find difficult about following?” “Do you prefer to lead or follow?” “Why?” “What makes leading easy?” “What makes following easy?” Use these questions to talk about your specific experience, but also discuss leading and following in general. Be transparent and share some of the struggles you face. Then go back to the Bible story about Moses leading the Israelites in the wilderness and talk about the challenges Moses must have experienced.
After doing this activity, one mom shared that she’d prefer to follow but is often thrown into a leadership role. Dad, on the other hand, would prefer to lead in some situations but he must follow because Mom is regularly involved in that area of family life. The young daughter shared how leading is made more difficult when followers complain or are uncooperative. Dad also talked about being a follower at work. Sometimes he needs to be a helpful participant, and look for opportunities to encourage others to reach their goals.
Devotions Should Be Exciting
Whatever you do, don’t make devotions boring. The Bible is the most exciting book in the world. Not only does it contain role models in the form of heroes for all ages, but it also gives teens ethical dilemmas to discuss in order to help them hone their value system.
One dad told about the commentary on the book of Proverbs he created with his sons. Sheets of paper were all laid out on the table with headings like “speech,” “money,” “listening,” “discipline,” and “guy/girl relationships.” Then as Dad read a chapter they’d identify any verses that could appear on one of their pages. They’d ask, “How does this verse apply to teens, the family, or to life in general?” They never published the commentary but the process helped get the wisdom of Proverbs into the hearts of these boys.
It doesn’t take long to have a Family Time like this but it does take some planning. Just 20-30 minutes a week of scheduled together time produces lessons that you can come back to over and over again informally for months. The message you’re teaching your children is that the Bible is exciting and relevant for their lives. That message, in their own language, will last forever.
If you’re looking for creative ideas for teaching the Bible you might consider the Family Time Activities books from the National Center for Biblical Parenting. Each of the six books start with instructions for developing a regular Family Time Devotion. It just takes 20-30 minutes a week of planned Family Time and you’ll have spiritual lessons to talk about throughout the weeks to come. The activities contained in the books are high-energy games or intriguing science experiments and object lessons for kids and their parents. Learn more here.
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