Ask someone unfamiliar with the Bible and they will probably tell you Christianity is about knowing and obeying a list of rules. They may be basing their thoughts on some facts they learned from a few Bible stories or sermons. Or they may even have a basic understanding of the idea that God has given mankind some commands He expects us to obey. What they lack is the complete understanding of God and what He wants from us and for us.
Unfortunately, your kids may leave for college with the same understanding of Christianity as the person unfamiliar with the Bible. Your kids may have gone to Bible classes every time they were offered. You may have sent them on mission trips or even had a family devotional every now and then. If you don’t understand how to build their faith though, your children are still vulnerable to the problems a shallow faith can create.
Part of helping your children grow a more mature faith is helping them go through the various levels of learning and understanding of the Bible. There is a tool in education circles known as Bloom’s Taxonomy. Think of it as a staircase or ladder. For any topic someone is trying to master, there are six levels the person must complete before they are considered to have a thorough understanding of a topic.
Those levels also work for understanding God and His Words. With apologies to Bloom, here is the taxonomy adapted for teaching your children about God and the Bible. As you study the Bible with your kids and talk to them about God, asking the questions at each level will help them over time to have a more thorough understanding and a deeper faith. (There are other faith builders, but this will give them the knowledge needed at a level that is truly helpful.)
Sometimes one or more levels can be worked through together. You may go through several levels on one topic and return to the beginning for another topic. Or you may think your child is at a higher level on a particular part of God’s Word, but find he or she missed something during the remembering or understanding phase. All of that is perfectly normal. The object is to realize there are multiple levels and you want to help your children experience as many of them as thoroughly as possible before they reach adulthood.
So what are these levels? What are some questions you can ask your kids to help them beginning thinking at another level?
Remembering – At this level, you are helping your child learn the basic facts of various Bible stories and memorize scriptures highlighting God’s commands and principles. For this level, Bible trivia type questions and games and an emphasis on memorizing scripture will help your kids have a firm grasp on the content they need to know. The questions on this level will cover the basic facts and answer questions like who, what, when and where.
Understanding – Understanding moves your children from just being able to recite the facts of a story or a Bible verse to being able to tell you what it means in their own words. Watch out for words commonly used in church like righteous or faithful. Your kids may be able to use them properly in a sentence because they have heard them, but still have no real understanding of what they mean. Ask questions like: What does righteousness mean? Can you give me an example in the Bible of someone who was gentle? Can you tell me in your own words what it means to be the light of the world?
Applying – This is the level when your children learn how to take the information in the Bible and know how to apply it in their daily life. Knowing the facts of the Bible and even understanding what verses mean is of little help if your kids don’t understand how to obey God’s commands. Ask questions like: What can you do to serve others like Tabitha? How can you share your faith like the Apostle Paul?
Analyzing – Can your kids analyze people in the Bible and more importantly themselves in light of basic Bible principles? They need to be able to look at their own lives and analyze their behaviors and hearts in light of God’s commands and principles. This is a level rarely covered in our churches. Ask your children questions like: Why do you think the mother of James and John was concerned about their place next to Jesus? Why did Peter and Paul react to the Jewish Christians’ demands differently? How did Peter and the other early evangelists use the Armor of God in their ministry in Acts?
Evaluating – Can your children defend their faith? Is it their own or are they merely parroting what you say? On this level, ask your kids to appraise, debate, defend, judge/discern, select, support, value and evaluate. Your kids need to evaluate God’s Words, select to support and value them and be able to defend them. Helping your children begin to master this level will also help them recognize and avoid the many false teachings in our world.
Creating – This is the phase where being a Christian is so exciting and fulfilling. It is the stage Peter, Paul and the others experienced in Acts. It’s not about creating your own faith, but rather taking what you have learned from God and using it to create ways to effectively serve others while sharing your faith. It is the stage where your kids become the reapers the New Testament wanted. It’s this stage where your kids will begin bearing the fruit God wants from all Christians.
Yes, helping your children move through these levels with the information in the Bible will take a lot of time and effort. The rewards though are so great, it is worth every minute you spend on them. Don’t look back and regret not putting in the extra effort. Start now and watch God work in the lives of your children.