Most Christian parents probably know they should be teaching their kids about God and what He wants from them and for them. The best way to do that is from the Bible – the collection of what God wants us to know. We have made the Bible such an intimidating book though, many parents truly believe they aren’t qualified to teach the Bible to their children.
As a parent, it’s important to remind yourself of two very important truths. First the Bible was written for “regular” people. Much of it is rather easy to understand – we’ve just made it seem harder than it really is. The second truth about the Bible is that there are some things in it no human can fully understand. And that’s okay. You don’t have to totally understand what Heaven will be like to know that you would much prefer spending eternity in Heaven than in Hell.
Accepting those two basic truths frees you to try and teach your kids what is in the Bible. Even if you take them to church every time the doors are open and they actually pay attention to every lesson and sermon, they will only be exposed to a very small fraction of what is in the Bible by the time they graduate from high school. They need you to teach them more and help them develop independent Bible study habits.
Fortunately, it really is easier than you think to start teaching your kids from the Bible. Here are five tips to give you the tools you need to get started.
- Use an NIrV Bible. There are a lot of versions and paraphrases on the market. I suggest the NIrV (The “R” is essential to get the version I am suggesting.) for several reasons. It is written on a third grade reading level and is easier to understand than other versions which are written on anything from a 7th to college reading level. I also like the fact that it is a translation and not a paraphrase, which in my experience means it is a more accurate reflection of what the original authors wrote. It’s not a perfect translation, but it is close enough for kids and teens who are getting their first exposure to scripture.
- Start with the stories. Children love stories and the ones in the Bible are well written. They capture the interest of most when told with enthusiasm. Our parent website, Teach One Reach One, has a list of the over 200 best Bible stories for kids (with direct links to the scriptures in the NIrV version).
- Know what points you want your child to learn from the Bible story.God could have had the writers of the Bible include a lot of different stories of things that happened in addition to the ones that are already there. There was a huge gap of hundreds of years between the last writing in the Old Testament and the first events in the New Testament when God didn’t give any of the stories the weight of scripture. I believe the stories which are in the Bible are there because they have something important to teach us. If you click on any Bible lesson on the Teach One Reach One website, you will find the points we believe can be learned from each story. There may be more, but we believe these truths are important for children and teens to learn. We call them “Learning Objectives”.
- Explain cultural differences and other interesting facts connected to the Bible stories. Don’t panic! We have you covered there, too. Each of our Bible lessons contains a few interesting facts. These facts are common knowledge to those who are versed in the history and culture of the area or keep up with recent archaeological finds. For the rest of us, these are things we probably don’t know but often help us understand the Bible a little better. We have found these facts help kids and teens better understand the stories, too. Plus, they seem to really enjoy learning our interesting facts.
- Discuss with your children how they can practice the important commands and principles from the story in their lives. Hearing the story of Abraham’s lies for example, and understanding God hates lies and lying is only part of the picture. You need to explain to your children the different types of lying (lies of omission, half-truths, etc.) and how to recognize when they are tempted to lie. They also need you to help them find ways to avoid those temptations when they arise. Wisdom is applied knowledge. Help your kids learn how to put all of that Bible knowledge into practice.
Don’t let your fears keep you from exposing your kids to more scripture and helping them understand what God wants. If a story seems to hard for you to understand, skip it for now. You can always go back to it as your confidence and Bible knowledge increase.
For some parents, teaching your kids the Bible will feel very awkward at first. Young kids will just enjoy spending time with you actively engaging with them – teaching them interesting Bible stories and talking about what they mean to our lives. With older children, you can engage them in the process. Have them take a turn preparing and teaching a Bible story to the rest of the family. They will be more engaged and learn an important Christian Life Skill as they practice teaching others about God.
Teaching your kids about the Bible takes extra time and effort. It is absolutely crucial that you do though, if you want your kids to have the strongest possible faith foundations.