This was originally posted at the Mars Hill Church Blog. In keeping with the theme of this week, I don’t know how you’ll do it, but you need to find a way to instill the discipline of studying the Bible in your family. We are literally overwhelmed with worldly influences and must teach our children the truth of God’s Word.
How can we better study the Bible with our spouses and children?
–>I’m not a hugely formal student. I study a lot, read all the time, and in our family, things flex from week to week, season to season, and as the kids age. Upon reflection, though, four things are constant:
- Lots of Bibles
- We have tons of Bibles all over the house. We have Bibles for every age, lots of translations, and lots of formats. To be honest, if a member of my family finds a Bible they like that is faithful, I am not at all legalistic about which one they prefer. Most days, every room of the house has a Bible of some kind in it, ready to read.
- A love of Bible reading
- I love to read the Bible and want my family to love reading in general, and Bible reading in particular. It’s not a forced rule, but a fun part of life. Everyone in our family likes to read the Bible and does so daily. I’ve never made a rule about daily Bible reading, but we all do as a habit that we enjoy by God’s grace. We all read Scripture and pray at night before bed as a sort of wind-down wrap-up to the day and the kids like it a lot.
- Life integration
- Throughout the daily moments of life, the window of opportunity opens up to sit down with Grace and the kids, either one on one or as a group, to open the Bible and apply a particular portion to something happening in their life. As a parent and a spouse, it is a great honor to be on watch, appointed by God to capture these sacred moments of bringing Scripture to bear on a teachable moment.
- Age-appropriate discussion
- We eat dinner together and have a Bible at the table that I use to lead discussions. We also keep a notebook of prayers for people and the kids really like seeing prayers answered and checked off. Some nights the family gets down some rabbit trail of conversation that is not overtly theological, and as a dad I don’t force a big theological discussion upon them, but rather follow the Holy Spirit as we just enjoy one another. Other nights we have some big theological discussions that I lead out of the Bible. After church on Sundays, since I’m still working, Grace is faithful to ask the kids what they learned in the service or their class and draw out of them what God revealed to them from Scripture. Anyone wanting to grow in this skill can read Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware, in which he shows how to teach theology to kids in an age-appropriate fashion.
With our children (ages four to twelve), Bible reading really varies, but here is what is going on presently in our home:
Gideon (4) gets read a lot of Bible stories (especially at night) and asked fun Bible questions that I probably need to compile as a free e-book. I’ve done this with all the kids over the years as a sort of Bible Jeopardy for kids. He likes The Jesus Storybook Bible, The Beginner’s Bible, and The First Step Bible.
Alexie (6) is reading well so she reads to her mom and me from an age-appropriate Bible every day. No matter what, this includes snuggle time before bed, which is a big deal to her. She likes The Jesus Storybook Bible, as well as reading on her own from The Beginner’s Bible, and The First Step Bible.
Calvin (8) is reading well and has a good Bible for his age that he reads each day, and we discuss with him what he’s learning. He is enjoying Mighty Acts of God by Starr Meade, which is an age-appropriate book for him to read. Previously he read through The Jesus Storybook Bible on his own multiple times, and now he needs something a bit more suited for his reading level, so we’re trying other additional Bibles to give him some variety.
Zac (10) is reading through the New Testament right now in the New International Reader’s Version (NIrV), an age-appropriate version for him. He also is reading for fun from The Picture Bible, which is set up like a comic book. He also enjoys books such as Ten Boys Who Changed the World and Ten Boys Who Didn’t Give In, which are short biographies.
Ashley (12) read through the entire English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible last year and is reading through the entire ESV Study Bible, including the notes, this year and so far has finished up the Pentateuch (first five books). She is an avid reader who reads a lot of fiction for fun, loves Christian biographies, and also has chosen to read through my new book Doctrine and write a report on it for school, which means the world to me. She keeps joking that one day she will be my research assistant and copy editor, as she’s a very gifted writer and we may have her start blogging for teenage girls and are praying it through.
Momma Grace and I are constantly reading and, it seems nearly every day, discussing what we are learning. Date nights and other extended times together are usually spent talking about people we are ministering to, the kids, and what we are reading and learning. This is pretty much a lifestyle for us that has been in effect for many years. We study very differently and so it works best for us each to study individually and then share together what we’re learning and discuss it. The Bible studies that had the biggest impact on Grace personally were on repentance and regeneration. She also loves the biblical counseling that comes from www.ccef.org, enjoys Carolyn Mahaney and has particularly enjoyed doing her Girl Talk study with Ashley, which is great for moms and daughters.
Lastly, I highly value reading. When I was a little boy, my mom took me to the library very often and helped birth in me a great love of books and learning. So, in our home we each have our own library. Every bedroom has a bookshelf with a small library for each family member. We have a small family reference library downstairs off the reading room, where there is good lighting, comfy seating, and a fireplace, and no technology resides (e.g., TV, computer, stereo). That family reference library has commentaries, Bible dictionaries, concordances, Bible background information, and so on to help anyone get basic Bible study done. My rule about books is that if it’s decent and you’ll read it, I will buy it. My personal library is pushing five thousand volumes in print and many more than that in Logos Software and other digital formats. The other members of my family have maybe a combined thousand or more books. It has taken years to collect them all, and many come from friends who donated them or used book stores, but, bit by bit, you can build a decent library and continue to encourage reading by making it interesting with lots of options and fun.