Okay, so if it’s not obvious—problem numero uno may be getting our kids to study anything, right?
Because the truth is, our kids will naturally study whatever they’re interested in. My eleven-year-old, for example has wanted to be a zoologist ever since he knew what one was. It’s why I’m lugging back from Africa no less than three animal encyclopedias; why I know the name of nearly every bird perching in our yard. Any teacher will let you know that kids are self-driven to study whatever they’ve got the bug for. (This is a key concept in this series!)
If our disciplines for God don’t lead to joy…we need to take a serious look at them.
So in our hopes for kids to develop the discipline of study, we’re actually training their hearts to engage: to connect their faith with everything, from the cashier at McDonald’s to the bully at school to their chores. I hear this concept all over Deuteronomy 6:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.
7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Theologian Gerhard von Rad has pointed out that wisdom is an awareness of complex reality. I love this: the idea that teaching our kids what wisdom looks like involves pulling in God’s truths from the entirety of the Bible, from the entirety of God’s truths in science or math or any other subjects (all truth is His truth!). That’s why according to Deuteronomy 6, we’re talking about God’s Word as it applies here. And here. And there. We show that all Scripture is the ultimate Swiss Army knife for life. Or as the Word puts it, it is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
TheBibleProject.com illustrates this beautifully in this video, discussing the Hebrew concept of hokhma (often translated as wisdom in Proverbs). It covers technical skill, artistic skill, even martial skill–and more traditional concepts, like prudence.
We teach our kids to live a lifestyle of study, applying the fullness of God’s Word–and the skills He’s inlaid in the world–to live lives that flourish for His glory and our good.
THE KEY: The discipline of study encourages our kids to dig deep into the truths of Scripture. We want them to seek both deep understanding and what God’s truths look like in real life.
- I heart thebibleproject.com, which “utilizes short-form, fully animated videos to make the biblical story accessible to everyone, everywhere. We create videos, podcasts, and study guides that explore the Bible’s unified story by focusing on its overarching themes and each book’s literary design.” I’ve actually printed off and laminated all their posters, which I switch out on the front of our fridge every week or so. They produce masterfully animated videos based on books of the Bible and on biblical themes. Check out one of our family’s favorites below:
- The Action Bible. My kids have literally loved the cover off this graphic novel of the Bible—and continue to amaze me with their in-depth knowledge of the stories of God’s Word. If the cover falls off, I’m getting another.
- Kay Arthur’s Precepts offers this free pdf for helping kids learn the inductive method of Bible study, complete with the colored pencils and index cards. She also has an entire series for inductive Bible study for kids!
- What’s in the Bible with Buck Denver. If you haven’t seen these hilarious and remarkably wise and comprehensive videos, you may be amazed (like I was) at what you can learn from these puppets and top-shelf animation, let alone your kids! The creator and mastermind behind VeggieTales, Phil Vischer, and his team have created an incredibly engaging and knowledgeable DVD series spanning from Genesis to Revelation that my kids love watching (and laughing out loud about) over and over.
Check out the trailer for this incredible 13-DVD series here:
- If kids are wondering where to start in their own personal time with God, consider the classic method of reading one chapter of Proverbs corresponding with the day of the month (i.e. read Proverbs 1 on April 1). Proverbs resonate with kids’ concrete reasoning skills. (Consider showing them the Proverbs video above as a teaser.) The stories in the Gospels are also a natural place to start. Remember–more choice means personal buy-in for kids, moving this from discipline to free will.
- Completely free for personal, church, and other use: printable sermon notetaking pages for kids—“My Personal Treasure Map for Today’s Sermon.” They’re divided roughly by age:
- Sermon notetaking pages for kids 11-12
- Sermon notetaking pages for kids 8-10
- Sermon notetaking pages for kids 5-7
- (If you like stuff like this, don’t miss the Freebies page.)
- This post, on 31 Anything-but-Vanilla Methods to Bring Fresh Flavor to Times with God, helps us shake up (see what I did there?) our kids’ ideas (…and ours)about how we can connect with God.
- Post it. I’ve printed nearly all of these low-res graphics from blogger Tim Challies’ book, Visual Theology. (My favorite is the One Another statements; see some more here.) They hang out on my fridge or on the back of our bathroom door (um. Maybe adding new meaning to “talk about them while you sit in your house”?), alongside The Bible Project’s posters and a lot of printable Scripture art.
- Check out this post on 8 Ideas to Help Your Kids Fall in Love with God’s Word.
- My husband recently challenged me in my own devotional times to make the goal not just to connect with God or His Word…but to enjoy Him. How would our relationships with God change if that were the goal?! Help kids find and delight in God in the particular ways they connect and worship Him. One of my children loves to write; another to read and draw. How can we tie what kids naturally enjoy to their relationship with God and His Word?
- Kids Read Truth. At my sister’s house last December, I was charmed by the cutie-patootie kids’ advent cards strung across her kitchen window. The cards have questions for each age group, a darling illustration—and the kids are meditating on the same Scriptures that mom and dad are (from shereadstruth.com and hereadstruth.com). Beyond Advent, they’ve got other sets, too. The same Scripture tumbling around in the whole family’s minds? Love it.
- Check out Barbara Rainey’s printable weekly post, Spoonful of Sugar, providing discussion questions for one verse a week. The whole family can meditate on it together!
- Interested in beginning a pattern of family devotions? I’ve already blogged about my friend Kristen Welch’s great experience with the Discovery Bible Study. Tim Challies also posted these ten ideas and tips for beginning family devotions.
- Another gift for you: FREE printable prayer and Bible journaling pages for kids (perhaps ages 8-14)! (Feel free to share these! If you would, please link back to my blog, and respect my copyright. Thanks!)
Okay, help us all out. What ways do you love to study God’s Word with your kids?
Please comment below!
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