Honestly, I think one of the most intimidating things that parents face, even grandparents, is how to tell Bible stories to their children—or even how to read the Bible. That’s usually because children are not hesitant to tell you how they feel if they’re not interested.
But let me tell you, it’s worth the effort. Sharing God’s Word with children is one of the most valuable ways you can build them up in the faith. Ultimately, the primary responsibility of educating your child spiritually rests on the shoulders of the parent and, in some cases, the grandparent.
I know we expect Sunday school teachers to do it, or we want the pastor to do it, or we want the teacher in the Christian school to do it. They all have their place, but they’re there more to enforce what you’re already doing as a parent.
In Deuteronomy 6:6–7, Moses said, “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
It’s always a good thing to have ongoing conversations with your children about spiritual things. Not everything has to be a sermon, but there need to be opportunities where you’re helping them to understand how the Bible applies in their life.
Here are three things you can do with children to make the most of Bible study time.
1. Put Away the Devices
The first thing I would suggest is simple: turn off those electronic devices! Put the iPad away, turn the phone off, put the child on your lap, and open a book. Yes, a physical book. Let them read through the book; let them turn the pages.
I think there’s something about a screen that is actually numbing. Screen use among young children is very high every day. I read a statistic that screen use is up to seven hours a day, even for pre-teens. This is where you step in as parents and grandparents and say, “Put the devices away.”
There’s something very special about a book when you open it up—especially children’s books. My friend, children’s book author Sally Lloyd-Jones, likes to say that a picture book is “a story told in two languages.” If it’s a beautifully illustrated book like many of hers are, it’s an awesome experience to let them turn the pages and get the full experience.
2. Be Creative and Spontaneous
Secondly, be creative. Simply stated, don’t be boring!
Sometimes the way family Bible time is presented is almost negative: “Well, we’re going to do devotions with the children now, so everybody gather around the table.”
Maybe do it outside—maybe in a park. Maybe do it at an unexpected time and just introduce it. Take those little opportunities throughout the day to impart spiritual truths and Bible stories.
Moreover, involve the children in the stories. For instance, I like to ask questions. Do you remember what David did? How did Jesus come to Earth? Is God with you, everywhere you go?
Don’t talk down to them. Ask for their comments or thoughts as you make your way through the story. Sometimes I tell a Bible story a little off—just to see if they’re paying attention. You’ll want to engage them and involve them in the conversation.
3. Longer Isn’t Always Better
The last thing I recommend when you’re telling a story or doing devotions with kids is don’t go too long. I think sometimes we feel like it has to be lecture or a sermon. There’s nothing wrong with a message in the right context, but you have to keep it at a length where they will stay with you.
Plus, when you end early, you leave them wanting more. One of your greatest joys and rewards is hearing, “Tell us another one!”
I hope these things encourage you to start making time for Bible reading with the kids in your life. Remember, it shouldn’t be our goal to mold our children into our image. Our goal instead should be to mold them into God’s image.
Children are not ours to keep; they are ours to nurture.
So it’s never too early to start conveying biblical knowledge to little ones. It’s also not too late.
Learn more about Pastor Greg Laurie.
Receive Sally Lloyd-Jones’s Near and Baby’s Carry Along Bible when you give to support Harvest Ministries.