One of the more memorable parts of my wife’s and my day is the bedtime routine with our elementary-aged children.
Included in the pajamas, teeth-brushing, lotion, hair-combed and tucked into bed is the reading time we have with them. A silly, fictional book is read and then a chapter from their age-appropriate Bible is read (the one we read can be found here).
With each chapter read in their kids Bible, we also ask questions about what they thought in response to what was read and they ask questions about God and God’s people. Now that they’re getting older, they’re starting to read the Bible to us.
At lunch after worship each Sunday we sit down at the family table and discuss what every one learned in their teaching time earlier that day. At night during dinner throughout the week our kids have thoughts and questions about God that we freely discuss.
Our goal as parents is to have the Bible be a consistent, natural, helpful and enjoyable part of our family culture.
In the same way we like going on family walks, jumping on the trampoline in the backyard, kicking the soccer ball, building legos, watching movies – we talk about the Bible together.
Now, making the Bible an integral part of your family culture is not dad and mom forcing God’s Word into the minds of your kids like a psychology experiment gone wrong. In our conversations we don’t want to tell our kids forcibly what to do as much we want to share the Bible with them and allow them to think about what they believe and how they choose to behave.
(And in reality, we can share the Bible all we want and hope they believe what we do about it, but our daily example – our daily witness for Christ – is what will motivate them to love Jesus above all as they get older).
But when it comes to reading the Bible, my prayerful desire is my children see it as an exciting, privileged act of worship (what Jesus commanded us when He told us to love God with all of our mind).
For dads and moms wanting Bible-reading and Bible-sharing to be part of their family culture, here are 7 principles that can be helpful.
(ONE) Start reading the Bible with your child as soon as possible.
Before our children could speak or comprehend words, we were reading the Bible to them.
As they begin to understand God’s wisdom and our family values, it’s been amazing to see the Holy Spirit be the third parent in our leadership, assisting our young children to know God through the reading of the Scriptures.
2 Timothy 3:15 says, You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.
(TWO) Look daily for teachable moments that connect life and the Bible.
Reading the Bible is not one compartmentalized area of our day, and then after reading it, we go on and don’t think of it again. Reading Scripture is not a box to check and then forget.
There are teachable moments every day where God’s Spirit provides the parent to influence and encourage a child’s thinking and behavior with the timeless truths of the Bible.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, You must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.
Every night at the dinner table there are opportunities to speak about the truth of Scripture when a child discusses their day – what we can thank God for and where we can ask for God’s help. Each conversation with a child can include what friends are emotionally-healthy and what kind of forgiver your child can be towards those who are hurtful people.
(THREE) The Christian parent should have a biblical-worldview at home.
How much better a home is when each family member thinks with a biblical worldview?
If the parents are responding with their opinions or their emotions, so will the children.
If the parents are living their lives looking like the culture around them in all things, so will the children.
But, as the Christian dad and mom grow in their understanding of the Bible, they can lay out family values that are Bible-centered.
Proverbs 1:8 says, My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.
On the wall of our home is a framed list of our family cultural values. Those values are:
Obey Scripture (Bible)
Loyalty to Love Ones (Forgiveness)
Work Earnestly (Integrity)
Tell the Truth (Repentance)
Be Kind (Jesus)
Have Fun (Live life to the fullest)
(FOUR) Talk about specific, practical matters and relate them to God’s view.
The gold parents in the book of Proverbs discuss every day topics and issues with their children and instruct and redeem them to God’s view.
Talking about healthy friendships (Proverbs 1:10-16; 4:14)
Talking about school work and part-time jobs (Proverbs 6:10-11; 10:5)
Talking about sex (Proverbs 5:1-22; 6:24-26; 7:1-27; 29:3; 31:1-3)
Talking about money (Proverbs 15:27)
Talking about alcohol (Proverbs 31:4)
Talking about food (Proverbs 28:7)
Taking about unhealthy language (Proverbs 4:24; 20:20; 23:15-16; 30:11; 31:28)
How galvanizing would it be for a parent to choose a verse in the Bible that deals with an issue their child is going through, and together, the parent and child memorize that verse together or write it down and set it on the walls of their home?
(FIVE) Set the example.
I have a daily discipline to read the Bible each day, not because a church leader told me to do it when I was a child, but because I would run downstairs in the morning and see my mother reading her Bible on the living room sofa or stop by the office to surprise my father and see him reading his Bible at work.
It’s fine if you want to read the Bible on an app on your phone, but your kids could see you doing that, they’ll assume you’re checking social media, organizing your fantasy football team or trying to figure out the next new family meal to make.
When you own a Bible you can hold, write in, cherish – your kids can see the Bible is a part of your daily lives (and maybe they’re accidentally catch you in the act of reading and studying it).
I recommend getting a study Bible (found here) that allows you to go a bit deeper than just reading comprehension.
(SIX) Make the Bible fun.
Kids like to show their parents what they know. Why not have a Bible quiz over what is being read at night to them daily and what they’re learning in their church weekly?
Why not get the Legos out and build a Bible account with them from their imagination?
Why not write a Bible account into a play and get dressed up in costumes and act it out?
When I wrestle with my kids I pretend I’m Goliath and their David and they take me down every time.
If your kids are older and too cool for playtime, simply the excitement of what you are reading in your Bible can be shared with them. A HUGE parenting win is when the pre-teen or teen reads something or learns something in the Bible and they can’t wait to share it with their parent(s). That’s fun parenting.
(SEVEN) Rinse and repeat.
My wife and I are preparing and praying about having the “sex” talk with our oldest child. When we do, we won’t just have it once. We’re going to introduce what sex is to her, but we will then continue to talk about sex repeatedly.
Because of inexperience, many times a dad or mom will get the prayerful courage to share Scripture with a loved one and then move and and never revisit the wisdom shared, hoping the child remembers what they said forever.
Sharing Scripture, even the same ones, need to be done over and over and over and over. Rinse and repeat.
In order for a biblical worldview to stick in your child, they need to hear and see biblical principles and Bible verses all over their lives.
How is your daily Bible reading and study?
How is the daily Bible reading of your child?
How much are you talkign about the truth of God’s Word in your daily conversations?
Thanks for reading. Be sure to make time for God’s Word and make time discussing it with others.