In Helping Kids Understand the Bible, I shared how knowing the various levels of understanding the Bible will help you move your child from someone who is able to repeat Bible facts to someone who is equipped to put godly principles into practice and serve and share their faith in creative ways.
You may be wondering what you as a parent can do to help move your children’s understanding of the Bible from level to level. As with anything in life, this progression is rarely in a straight line. Your child might be able to understand and apply some godly concepts easily and struggle with even remembering others. That’s okay. If you keep talking about all of the Bible stories and godly principles and commands and doing some activities to encourage the higher levels of understanding, it will happen over time.
So what are some fun things you can do with your kids for each level? There are probably lots of things I didn’t even think of, but here are some of my favorites:
- Remembering: This is a great level to use all of those Bible trivia games and many Bible board games. Most are designed to help students memorize basic facts about the Bible. Some even have questions that involve quoting specific short scriptures. You can find these games online or in your Christian bookstore. If you don’t have any money to spend, there are lots of websites with free Bible trivia questions you can use.
- Understanding: Bible crossword puzzles can have your kids scrambling for a dictionary to find synonyms of Bible words to answer clues. There are free crossword puzzle generators online if you want to create your own crossword puzzle with specific Bible words or concepts. Understanding is sometimes best achieved though through discussion. Why not have a weekly ice cream or hot chocolate date with your kids (at home is fine too!)? Read a Bible passage and discuss what any “hard” words mean. Show your kids how to use a Bible dictionary. Give them words and have them look them up and tell you what they mean. Ask your kids to put the Bible story in their own words. Often doing that will reveal any misunderstandings they may have about the scripture.
- Applying: Get into the habit of asking your children why they think God put a particular story or verse in the Bible. What does He want us to learn from it? What would that look like in practice in “real” life? What would they have to do to put that concept into practice every day? Have family challenges. Who can go a whole week without lying (including lying about not lying for the week!)? Who can think of the most ways to encourage others? Plan a family service project. You can add another dimension by each family member working on a godly attribute while serving. For example if you struggle with patience, you will work on being patient while serving. If your kids grumble and complain a lot, they would focus on serving without grumbling and complaining.
- Analyzing: You can accomplish several things by sitting and watching television with your children. Not only may you be surprised to find what is said and done on their favorite shows, but afterwards you can ask your child to analyze what was done on the show in comparison to what God asked us to do. Did any of the characters show the fruit of the Spirit? If it is a spiritual show or movie, did the characters have to use the Armor of God? Which parts? When something happens in your child’s life, can they analyze what happened in light of what God would have wanted them to do?
- Evaluating: Can your child read a book, watch television or hear a preacher on television and evaluate what was said in light of the Bible? This area tends to frustrate a lot of parents because young people and adults with more life experience tend to see things in a somewhat different light. When your children evaluate, get them in the habit of explaining why they made that evaluation. Was it based on scripture or a “feeling”? Teach them feelings about speakers and what they say are often based on charisma more than the actual spiritual value of what was said. This is a higher level skill, but you can begin practicing it with younger children on a very basic level. Ask them what they thought about one point in a sermon at your church or in their Bible class. Encourage them to think of a Bible story that would demonstrate the point they are trying to make. Be careful not to crush the spirit of children who just don’t have enough life experience to evaluate accurately. The main things you want to do are to help them practice with you so you can add additional godly points and to get them in the habit of evaluating everything they are taught in light of what God teaches.
- Creating: This is probably my favorite level. Have your kids discovered one or more of their gifts from God? Encourage them to think of ways to use those gifts in God’s Kingdom. Can your kids come up with ideas for creative service projects? Can they brainstorm creative ways to encourage friends and neighbors to visit your church? Can they think of creative ways to encourage their peers to read their Bibles or pray more? There are so many ways for your children to exercise their creative muscles for God. It is always a lot of fun and often teaches them other godly concepts as they are creating and executing their ideas. You can ask them questions to guide their thinking if they are missing an obvious piece, but resist the temptation to take over the projects and do them “right” or “better”. This is a learning experience for your kids and mistakes are often an important part of the process. Sometimes those mistakes and their aftermath can teach even more lessons about God and His principles and commands.
Take some time and help your children do activities that will help them eventually use their Bible knowledge on all of these levels. When they can do that on a regular basis, they are becoming the Christian adults they were meant to be.