Ever wonder why the Bible is filled with so many stories? Or why Jesus told parables? It’s because stories are easier to remember than lectureS or listS of facts. God also embedded His commands and principles within all of those Bible stories.
When your kids know and understand a Bible story, it can help them remember important commands and principles God wants them to use. It can make it easier for them to share their faith with others. It’s important to help your kids remember key Bible stories that will prove helpful to them for the rest of their lives.
Take your kids outside and help them find pale, flat stones. You can also purchase them at many craft stores if you prefer. Make sure each child has at least five or six of these stones. Give them permanent markers. (You can also use paint, but markers allow for more detail.)
Tell your kids a Bible story or let them choose one and read it for themselves. What five symbols can they use to help them remember how to retell the story accurately? Each stone should have one symbol.
The symbol can be a person or an object. So if I were doing the story of Esther, I might have a stone for each of the people and one for the scepter and another for the dinner.
After they have decorated the stones, have them practice retelling the story using the stones as reminders and illustrations. You can do this activity multiple times and donate the completed story stones to others with a printed copy of the story in the bag of decorated rocks.
Whether or not you create story stones with your kids, taking the time to help them learn, remember and use Bible stories is an important part of helping your kids build strong spiritual foundations.
The idea of Christians being salt and light is an abstract concept young children will have a hard time understanding. While you will need to have many conversations over the years about what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:13-18, you can begin with some fun activities.
First grab a flashlight. Go into a room or closet you can make entirely dark. Talk about how hard it would be to read a book or do anything without just a little light. For very small children, you may even bring a book into the room to read to them, but discover you can’t without the light.
Have your child turn on the flashlight. Discuss what a big difference even a little bit of light can make in a dark space. If you have more than one child, have each of them turn on an additional flashlight and show the power of having a lot of people being the light.
Try to explain the verses about Christians being a light in the world. Don’t worry if they don’t entirely understand the connection now. You can continue having conversations over the years as they become more capable of abstract thought.
Then give your kids a salted and unsalted snack. You may have to experiment to find one where the two taste distinctly different. Ask your kids to explain what they believe the salt added to the taste of the snack.
Pull out two pieces of bread. (Non commercially baked breads work better because they have fewer preservatives.) Have your kids put their unwashed hands all over both pieces. One piece of bread should go into a plastic baggie and be sealed. The other should be sprinkled with a tablespoon of salt and placed in a plastic bag so the salt stays on the bread.
Have your kids watch the bread for several days. Which piece of bread grew mold more slowly? Discuss the Bible verses while explaining that salt is used for flavor, preserving food and even disinfecting things. It had so many uses in Bible times (remember there was no electricity, so salting things could also keep them safer to eat) that salt was even used as money at times!
Spend a lot of time discussing what it means for Christians to be salt and light in the world. What are some practical things they can do to be salt and light in their worlds every day?
Holy is one of those Bible words that we think we understand without actually being able to verbalize the definition. If we can’t explain to our kids what it means for them to be holy, they may struggle to be who God truly wants them to be.
Being holy doesn’t mean you or your kids are perfect. Christians understand without God’s grace and the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross we would have no forgiveness for the sins we (and your kids) will inevitably commit.
Holy is about being dedicated to God, being devoted to the service of God and being morally and spiritually “excellent”. When you read those dictionary definitions you may picture a well known minister or someone like Mother Teresa. It seems almost silly to try to teach your kids to be holy, when they struggle to even remember to not hit each other when they are angry.
It is possible to teach your kids to be holy, but first you will need to understand what it means and why it is important to God that His people be holy.1 Peter chapter 1 has a lot of detailed information about being holy. Read through it with your kids and discuss it as you prepare to help your kids become holy.
Actually teaching your kids to be holy involves helping mold their hearts. it is teaching them to make being a follower of God – a Christian – their number one priority in life. Not just a Christian in name only, but really trying to be like Jesus in everything they do.
You can also teach them to be holy by helping them find and develop their gifts from God. Then help them learn how to find those good works God has prepared for them in advance and help them to follow through and do those good works.
Finally, you can help your kids be holy by helping them have hearts that want to obey every command their King – God – has given them. It’s about good character, good choices, godly behavior, attitudes and words. Ultimately though, being holy and “excellent” morally and spiritually is about having a godly heart.
So teach your kids what it means to be holy. Then help them to become holy. It’s a wonderful Christian parenting goal.
As a Christian parent, you want your kids to have strong faith foundations. That strong foundation can help them avoid temptation and grow to become faithful, productive Christians. Yet many children raised in “good” Christian homes have faith foundations so weak, they crumble at the first stressor.
Part of the problem is we don’t have enough discussions about the specifics of what kids need to build a strong faith foundation. As a result, many parents are left to guess what their kids need or praying the church is providing their kids with everything they will need spiritually.
No matter how great the children’s and youth ministries are at your church, they just don’t have enough time with your children to give them everything they need spiritually. Even if your kids are enrolled in a Christian school, they won’t get everything they need. There are rare exceptions, but strong faith foundations are usually the result of a lot of intentionality from the child’s Christian parents. (Studies are showing young people need about 14 hours of spiritual content from active teaching, independent study and conversations and experiences every week to have a strong spiritual foundation.)
So, what exactly are the things your child needs you to help them with so their faith foundation will be strong?
Bibleknowledge. There are over two hundred Bible stories and thousands of verses outside of the context of a story. Your kids need exposure to all of this content – either through active teaching or independent Bible study. Churches will give your kids exposure to about ten to twenty percent of that content. Your kids will need your help learning the rest. If your kids are exposed to very little Bible content, they are trying to live life without having read God’s instruction manual. Your kids will struggle to live the life God wants them to live if they have no idea what it is or how to do it.
Application principles. Application principles are taking a Bible story, figuring out the lessons God wants them to learn from the story and how to apply those principles to their daily lives. Without this piece, Bible stories are just interesting stories with no real value (in your child’s mind). Your children need your help learning how to understand what they read in the Bible and how it should impact their daily lives. They will need help molding their character, words, actions and ultimately hearts to be the Christian God wants them to be. You can teach them how to find the principles independently, but they will still need your help and encouragement in applying them to their daily lives.
Christian life skills. Many of God’s commands and application principles have skill sets attached to them. These skills must be taught to your kids in order for them to more easily obey God. Christian life skill training should include things like godly conflict resolution and stewardship skills like budgeting and giving, amongst others.
Gift discovery, development and use. God has given each of your kids at least one gift to use to serve Him by completing the good works God has planned for your child. Your kids may have different gifts, the same ones or a mixture of overlapping and unique gifts. They will need your help discovering, developing and learning how to use their gifts to serve God. For some children, this will come easily, while others will struggle for some time just identifying their gifts.
Critical thinking skills. While this overlaps other areas we have already discussed, we are beginning to separate it out because it is an area often neglected in a child’s spiritual education. Critical thinking skills are used when your kids think more deeply about what God has to say. It involves reflecting on scripture, but also apologetics – knowing how to defend their faith to skeptics and how to share their faith with seekers. It also involves analyzing more critically the faith challenges they will experience in the world and clearly seeing the logical fallacies or weaknesses in arguments against God that sound as if they contain sound logic and wisdom.
Servant leadership skills. Your kids may not grow up to be official church leaders, but they should have the servant leadership skills that will help them lead others to God. They need to learn how to effectively serve others and share their faith. Many also need to learn how to lead others with a servant heart and not the secular leadership model that is often toxic, because they will hold leadership positions in their church, company or community now and/or in the future.
Hospitality. This is another area we are beginning to separate from the others because of its vast importance. The Bible is full of examples of people being hospitable to others. In fact, God commands His people to show hospitality. Not surprisingly, studies are showing hospitality is a key component in the Christian homes who raise kids to be faithful, productive Christians.
Are you overwhelmed yet? Don’t give up! We have so many free tools to help you. We have daily challenges to encourage you. Providing your kids with the things on thIs list is the very best way to help them get to Heaven. It will take lots of intentionality and hard work, but it needs to be your top priority. It is the most important gift you can give your kids.
Whether you’re homeschooling, helping your child review academic skills over the summer or tutoring in a faith based academic program, there are ways you can meaningfully connect Bible stories to academic skill practice. Often this is attempted by telling a Bible story and transitioning to a random academic skills activity. Instead, what if you could tie the skills to Bible stories in meaningful ways?
Teach One Reach One Ministries is trying to make that easier for you! We have hundreds of free academic skill activities with meaningful ties to Bible stories on our website. We are adding more constantly. Our goal is to have activity ideas for more than two hundred Bible stories in the following academic subject areas:
Basic elementary language arts
Intermediate/advanced elementary language arts
Basic elementary math
Intermediate/advanced elementary math
Health and hygiene
ESL (While designed for teaching English as a second language, the activities could also be used to teach other languages.)
Sustenance and survival
The activities on our website are sorted by subject area and by Bible story. Although we already have hundreds of ideas online, we are constantly adding new ones. Our activities are designed to be hands on, experiential, meaningful and memorable. Developed by professional educators, the activities are designed to engage children in learning the Bible as well as important foundational academic skills. Although originally designed to be done with a group of students, our website has instructions on how to adapt activities to make them work well with only one or two children.
If you are working with children on academic skills, why not take a little extra time and effort and help them learn more of God’s words at the same time? We can help you with the planning aspect, so all you will need to do is gather the materials and teach!