Sunday, January 10, 2016

5 Ways to Teach Scripture to Your Kids

When I think of scripture, I think about the words in my favorite ripped up Bible, and I feel almost giddy. I know that is a little weird and I definitely know that my kids did not emerge from the womb with that same passion. 

Their first words were not Mama and Bible.

Just like most other jobs in parenting, instilling scripture in our kids takes some intentionality. 

As a kid, I spent all 13 school years in a Christian school where Bible memory was in cahoots with grammar and algebra. If you didn't get one of them done, no recess for you. And that was a beautiful thing. Because I walked out of that door as a senior with hundreds of little foundational verses tucked away in my memory. Which to this day, mess with me whenever I try to memorize anything other than the KJV. 

But the #1 way to get scripture into our kids is not:
Send our kids to Christian School.

We can't rely on others to teach our kids about Jesus. That is our job. Not the job of Mrs. Sunday School, not the job of Grandma or Mr. Christian Teacher. 

It is up to us, Mr. Dad and Mrs. Mom. 

We can teach our kids God's ways because we were created to do this. It is one of our job descriptions.

God is passionate about us knowing his words. He says this about them:

Teach them 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. 
Deuteronomy 11:19

God says to teach and talk about Scripture.

There are hundreds of ways to do the teaching and talking and you probably have some goods ways going on in your house. I'd love to hear them.

Here are a few ways we have been putting Scripture into our kids:

1. Read it every morning. And by every, I mean Monday-Friday. For us this looks like a verse or a story while my kids eat breakfast. I know families read in the living room or around the dinner table and for years I felt like a crappy mom because we weren't having a 30 minute WaBoom! in the living room with everyone's Bibles open and hands folded on top. But we need to find out what actually works for our family and toss the guilt out the back door. If you have 3 minutes, great! Start with that.

And on the really rough mornings, there is no shame in reading that verse in the van on the way to school. Just saying.

Read through a book of the Bible, google every verse on kindness, read a Proverb a day. Whatever your kids need, read it to them. 

Side note on talking to kids at different age levels: aim most of the discussion towards the older half, giving a few very simple questions to the littlest. This keeps the older ones engaged and not bored, the middle ones get more then we think plus their minds are being stretched and the littlest ones love the questions. There is nothing like restless older kids to derail the conversation. 

2. Give them a Life Verse. We have given our kids their own life verse, based mainly on the meaning of their names. For instance, Max Isaiah means "Greatest Salvation" and so his verse is: 
God indeed is my salvation;
I am confident and unafraid.
Isaiah 12:2

If the meaning of your child's name is not especially significant or meaningful to you, choose a verse for your child to grow into, one that describes what you pray over them and want them to become. 

Madison An = Strong fighter, Peace

Benjamin = Son of my Right Hand

We have put those life verses on canvases and let the kids paint them. The big kids can all quote their verses. I would like to think it is because we talk about them so much but mostly, it's because the verses stare down at them from their bedroom walls. Either way.

3. Listen to the Bible on CD. My kids think they cannot fall asleep unless they are listening to something. I'll take the blame. When they were just toddlers we bought them this Kid's Bible on CD and we turned it on for them every night. All of the New Testament books are being read in calm voices and I love them. 

The kids have received other Bible stories on CD's for Birthday presents and they prefer the stories.
The Singing Bible
Frank Peretti's Bible Stories
The Action Bible

I'm just happy that the last words they hear every night are from God. Win!

4. Memorize together. I think I just heard groans. Was that me? 

They (the all-wise THEY) say to memorize when you are young and you will never forget what you learn. Does that mean if you memorize when you are old you will never remember what you learn?

That feels true. I don't remember not knowing Psalm 23 and I can still say it out loud, top to bottom, in the middle of crazy and chaotic when I can't even remember the name of the kid I'm reciting it to. 

So my goal is to teach the kids verses now. If they can quote The Pink Panther verbatim, they can quote Apostle Paul. Wouldn't it be great if they randomly threw out lines from 1 Corinthians 13? Ok, maybe a little awkward.

Sometimes we work on memorizing in the morning for our Scripture time. To commit a whole chapter to memory takes us a whole summer but the older kids (9-14) can easily knock out a verse a week just using our morning routine. 

5. Play it out. Just reading words on a page doesn't have quite the same effect on kids as touching it with their fingers does. This takes a bit more planning but it is worth it! My 5 year old still talks about digging up our treasure from the garden. 

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. 
One day a man found the treasure, and then he hid it in the field again. 
He was so happy that he went and sold everything he owned to buy that field. 
Matthew 13:44

The treasure in that box? Probably Gatorade and Gum. Just enough to remind them that God's treasure is something you don't want to miss.

And this idea:

My kids were awed by this illustration of Jesus taking away our sin! Ok, I was awed too. Three ingredients is all you need.

It doesn't take much to bring Biblical principles to life for kids. There are dozens of stories about coins and fish sticks and sheep and so many ways to bring God's ideas closer. 

Teach [my words] 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. 
Deuteronomy 11:19

Teaching and talking.

I think my favorite way of teaching is when those conversations about God and his ways come up while we are on the road, when they are going to bed and in the middle of play-doh and grocery aisles. 

There is never a poor time to talk about God or teach Scripture, is there?

What are some of your favorite ways to teach your kids? 

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