photo by Juria Yoshikawa
We’ve discussed how so many children and young adults have walked away from their faith, how the majority of Christians never or rarely read their Bible, and that by not reading our Bible we are, in effect, ignoring the greatest love letter ever written.
If we can teach our own children to love God’s Word, to desire to read it day by day so they may live lives pleasing to Him, then not only will our children lead full, fruitful lives, they will know the Lord who saved them and give their lives to Him. Following God is, after all, what it’s all about.
How do we establish the environment so that our children learn to love God’s Word? Follow these four things:
Recognize that you are a missionary. Your home is your mission field and your child is the focus of your outreach. Therefore, acting as the missionary that you are, you must go about teaching your child with purpose and diligence. It involves both planning and being ever vigilant for moments that arise where God’s Word can be taught. That’s what real missionaries do. They make God the center of everything they do as they work, play, and interact with others. The very first thing you must do is recognize that you are a missionary called to do the work of God in your home.
Initiate family devotions in your home. Any missionary in the field will bring the people they reach into their home to begin Bible study. Your outreach is already there! Reading the Bible together as a family will provide countless opportunities to teach what God’s Word means and how to apply His truths as a family and as individual members. It will also provide an undeniable example to your child that the words contained in the Bible are life-giving and necessary, so much so that your family comes together regularly to read from it. If you need help or ideas for how to hold family devotions, read my ongoing (but soon to finish) series entitled “Step By Step To Family Devotions.”
Teach your child to have personal quiet time with God. This can be done from even the youngest age, with assistance from you. Explain that God loves His children to spend one-on-one time with Him in worship and praise, and that you want your child to spend a few minutes talking with God. This can be done in your child’s bedroom (assuming it’s not being used as a time-out zone - you don’t want personal God time to be viewed as an extension of punishment), telling him or her that a short prayer can be said, a Bible song sung or “reading” from their picture Bible.
Older children who are able to read should have their own Bible and encouraged to read it for themselves. They will probably need your assistance about where to start and how long to spend doing it. Gauge it by their attention span and maturity, but I wouldn’t expect more than 5-10 minutes for younger elementary children.
For Bible recommendations you might consider what these have to offer for preschoolers, young elementary, older elementary and teens.
Provide an object lesson. Write a beautiful, heart-felt note to your child and mail it to him via regular mail. Watch how his eyes light up when you announce a letter has arrived in the mail for him. Note how he responds to the loving content written in this special letter from a parent who loves him very much. You may even notice that he carries it around with him or tucks it into a very special place where only his most prized possessions go.
The next time you hold family devotions, ask about the letter. What did he think about receiving the loving words? How did it make him feel? Does he feel drawn closer to you? Explain that it brought great joy to you to write it for him. Then, equate the letter with God’s Word. The Bible is a special letter written with great love and care to those who believe in and love God. He wants us to thrill just as much (at least as much!) to His Word as we do whenever we receive a wonderful letter in the mail.
Following through with these four ideas will help your child develop a knowledge for God’s truths, one that, hopefully, will cascade into a thirst for more and more things of Christ as he or she grows older.