We spend a lot of time in Christian education and parenting circles talking about the importance of exposing your kids to the Bible. We give you all sorts of tips on helping your kids transition to independent Bible reading. Your kids may be hearing a lot of Bible stories at Church or perhaps at a Christian school. Some of you may have children that could easily beat the average adult in a Bible trivia contest.
All of those things are wonderful. Except for one thing. Do your kids only know Bible facts or do they know how to take those stories and use the principles and commands in them to live a Christian life? Sadly, for the majority of kids and teens, the answer is “No”. Not because they don’t know what is in the Bible. It’s because they haven’t been taught what to do with all of that information floating around in their heads.
Without understanding what they need to be learning from Bible stories and the skills to put it into practice, it’s little wonder so few Christian young people are living a godly life. Some of it is indeed rebellion, but much of it is because they don’t even know what living a Christian life means or how to do it. To them, Christianity is that pretty church building where they worship and not much more.
You can teach your kids how to figure out what God wants them to learn from each Bible story and what they should do with this understanding. It sounds intimidating, but it’s really easier than you think. It can even be fun! Here are some tips to help:
- Find a passage of scripture to share with your kids. Make it a passage with an interesting Bible story or some basic godly wisdom like that found in Proverbs or James. Our free printable Bible bookmark has great a list of books of the Bible to use to teach your kids. These books have more stories and practical wisdom than some of the others. The other books have lots of value obviously, but are more difficult for beginners.
- Read it to your kids or have them read it to you. Make sure to stop and explain any words your child doesn’t normally use every day. Even words like “faith” and “repentance” should be defined. Just because they have heard them thousands of times, doesn’t mean they understand them. Use a dictionary if you aren’t quite sure how to word it in ways they can understand.
- Have your kids retell or explain the passage in their own words. This is a great way to find misunderstandings. Young children are concrete thinkers and even though they think they understand a passage their lack of abstract thinking skills can cause them to miss important subtleties.
- Ask your kids what rule or ideas God wants us to learn from the verses. This is extremely important. It is the area even churches often miss. You may not be quite sure yourself. Our free Bible lesson plans have learning objectives for each story, outlining many of the things your kids can learn from it.
- Help your kids think of ways they can live rules, ideas and principles. Once again, this is an area most people forget to help young people discover. Yet, without this knowledge reading the Bible doesn’t really help them very much. If the principle or command requires learning a skill (like stewardship and giving probably require someone to have good budgeting skills), take the time to teach the skill to your kids. Give them lots of practice in it. Discuss it regularly. If you want help, our free Living the Christian Life teen curricula has lots of practical Christian Life Skill activity ideas.
- Ask different types of questions to help your kids process material in ways requiring higher level thinking. There are some educational principles behind this, but for now take advantage of our two free resources on questioning young people. The first explains the different levels of processing new information based on Bloom’s Taxonomy. The other resource gives you examples of the types of questions to ask in each category to help you ask your kids similar types of questions.
Yes, this type of Bible study creates extra work for you. The truth is though, your kids vitally need this information. If not, it will be extremely unlikely they will live their faith consistently in their lives. You can’t count on your church – no matter how great the ministries and teaching may seem – to give your kids this type of teaching. Taking the time to teach your kids how to use the Bible by applying it to their lives is essential for their faith foundation. It is worth every second of time and effort you can out into it.