One of the challenges in encouraging many children and teens to regularly read and study the Bible independently is motivation. Most young people are over scheduled and sleep deprived. The last thing they want is something else they consider work or a chore to add to their list.
There’s a fun family devotional you can do to help them see the wisdom and benefits of regular Bible study. Find a recipe that your kids will love, but have never made before. Make sure you either omit the majority of the instructions or find a recipe where it is crucial to read the entire recipe before starting or they will make a major mistake. For older children and teens, find a complex recipe with multiple steps and omit all but the first one or two. (Martha Stewart and Julia Child often have complex, multi-step recipes.)
Allow them to cook, while you observe. (Making sure all tasks are age appropriate and safe for them to perform.) When they reach the end of the instructions, but the recipe is obviously unfinished, look puzzled when they ask for the rest of the recipe (or realize they should have done a step much earlier). Explain that you are sure they can figure it out somehow (make sure their phones aren’t available!). After a few minutes (but before they get too frustrated or render the recipe inedible), give them the rest of the instructions.
While you eat their creation, read them the story of Josiah found in 2 Kings 22. Explain that scripture is like an instruction book God has written for us to make living life as close to God’s original plan as possible in our fallen world. Point out that because the Bible available at the time had been lost, Josiah and the people were not living the way God wanted them to live. They had sinned, because they had no idea what God did and did not want them to do. Josiah was heartbroken when he realized how far they had strayed from God’s plans for them and did everything he could to repent and make sure everyone knew the scriptures going forward.
Ask your children what percentage of the Bible they think they have read or studied so far. (You may have to help them figure it out.) Point out that the Bible tells us there were many more stories that could have been added to the Bible, but God left them out. One can probably assume, therefore, that the scriptures in the Bible are important ones God wanted us to read, study and use in our lives.
When we try to live life without knowing entire sections of the Bible, it is similar to trying to make the recipe without all of the instructions. We are likely to end up like Josiah, heartbroken that we did not know God’s Words as well as we should – sinning and creating negative consequences we might have avoided had we known everything God wanted us to know.
Help your kids develop a realistic plan for independent Bible study. You can search our blog for past posts on the topic to help. If you struggle with Bible study yourself, make it a family challenge. Find positive ways to encourage one another. Make sure your family doesn’t repeat the story of Josiah in your own lives.