3 Easy Ways to Invite Your Kids into Time with the Word
- Rachel Baker Crosswalk Contributing Writer
- 2021 22 Mar
As a mom and pastor’s wife, the importance and value of encouraging our children to engage with the word of God has been a priority in our home since the birth of our firstborn. Before becoming parents my husband and I discussed in detail how we planned on raising our children. Neither one of us wanted our children to feel the pressure of being a pastor’s kid, or to experience additional expectations simply because of our commitment to the church.
Nevertheless, we want our children to have deep and well-rounded theology. We want our kids to know what the Bible says, the history of our faith, and why we believe what we believe. Ultimately, when it comes to their salvation and their decision to put their faith in Christ—well, that choice is between them and God. Still, our hope is that we’ve given them all the tools and information necessary to make an informed and wise decision.
In our home, the first step to providing this information begins with engaging with the Bible in organic ways. I’ve been long impacted by the words of Deuteronomy 6:1-9, a formula of sorts for keeping the commands and words of God close to our hearts and minds. I never want my children to feel forced to read their Bibles or discuss Biblical themes.
Instead, we engage with the Bible and discuss the themes within in very relaxed and conversational ways. So far, this method of inviting our children into discussing the Bible has paid off; I’m constantly blown away by my children’s understanding of the Bible and God’s heart for humanity even at their young ages.
If you’re looking for a few simple methods to engaging your children with the word of God, here are a couple suggestions to get you started. Remember, we need not make our time in the Word complicated or confusing. We can invite our children into our faith from day one and every day forward.
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1. Invite the Audio Bible into Your HomeSlide 1 of 3
Saturdays in our home are typically our sabbath. We often allow ourselves to sleep in and focus on only doing things that nourish our souls. I love to lay in bed a little bit longer than I do on weekdays and enjoy watching the sky brighten while sipping hot coffee. Frequently on these mornings my daughter will crawl into the bed and curl up under the covers for some extra “mommy snuggles.”
Quite often, I’ll reach over and grab my phone, turning to the Bible app. We’ve been going through the Bible chronologically this year on the audio version. Our kids call the narrator Mr. NIV-guy. We’ve been listening to Mr. NIV-guy in our home for as long as there has been a Mr. NIV-guy on the Bible app.
It’s almost shocking to me how long the kids will sit in the bed and silently listen to the story or section of scripture being read. Our kids are talkers and the house is often ear-piercingly loud, so for the kids to sit quietly—of their own volition—is pretty amazing. These mornings and minutes spent listening to Mr. NIV-guy has opened up the door for so many incredible conversations.
Our children are like sponges. They understand much more than I often give them credit for. As we listen to book after book of the Bible, I am in awe of what they retain, what they want to talk about or question, and what they really connect with. As you incorporate the audio versions of the Bible into your home, buffer in some time to have conversations about what you listened to.
Keep it casual and allow your children to lead the conversation, things might get silly, or they might get really deep. It’s all about having an open dialogue and space for our children to explore and connect with what they’ve heard.
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2. Pick a Version of the Bible That They EnjoySlide 2 of 3
When our son was about 4- or 5-years-old Grandma bought him a copy of the illustrated Action Bible. I’ll be honest, I don’t love it. I find the illustrations to be dark and sometimes violent. Our son, is a superhero super fan who wore a spiderman Halloween costume for almost a year straight, and he absolutely loves this version of the Bible. He’s visual and can really dig into Biblical stories through illustration.
I still remember walking past his room when he was about 5-years-old. He and his Dad where laying in his bed reading the story of David and Goliath. The story is quite gruesome, and the Action Bible spares no detail. As I heard my husband reading, my jaw dropped. I was horrified, but as I peeked in, I could see that our son was completely embroiled in the story. David, to him, was like an action hero who saved the day and God’s people.
Our son connected with this specific version in ways that he might not with a plain text Bible. Sure, now that he’s older and reading on his own he uses his own kids Bible, but every now and then I’ll find him sitting and just enjoying reading the Action Bible because it speaks to him visually. How great is it that there are versions of the Bible out there that our kids can connect with as they develop!
Our daughter, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with the Action Bible, in fact, I’m finding that she actually connects to the Bible on deeper levels when listening to it. There have been times that she’ll curl up into my lap and listen to me read my own Bible out loud to her. I remember once getting a little irritated because she was interrupting my “quiet time.”
I was quickly reminded of Matthew 19:13-15, “Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.' When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.”
We should not be inconvenienced by our children, but rather, invite them in to our time in the word and engage with them through versions of the Bible that they’ll best understand and be inspired by.
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3. Let Bible Time Be Sacred, Not ScarySlide 3 of 3
Throughout my adult life I’ve spent incalculable amounts of time romanticizing my quiet time. I’ve wanted my time in the word to be slow and sacred; for my coffee to remain hot while I poured over scripture. My reality is a complete contrast.
There are kids jumping on my bed when I’m trying to read, or boisterous conversations, or just a multitude of distractions. I’ve snapped at my kids, excluded them from my time in the word, and become kind of a scary mommy when trying to get in my time.
There’s nothing like raising littles to remind us that the word of God is not meant for our sole consumption to the exclusion of others. Yes, as parents of faith, we absolutely need to be modeling sacred rhythms for our children, however, instead of just modeling those rhythms how much better could it be to include and invite our children into those practices?
Are we so arrogant to think that God doesn’t see us right where we are, in the middle of our rearing and raising of little ones?
“Let the little children come to me…” Jesus says. Inviting little ones means inviting interruptions and distractions. Regardless, the inclusion of our children into our sacred spaces can have a lifetime of effect. We don’t necessarily need to sneak away for our personal time in the word. Instead, we have an opportunity to practice out those verses in Deuteronomy 6 and invite our children to be active participants in faith.
Proverbs 22:6 hits right to the heart saying, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” This wisdom language reminds us that our faith should be shared in our homes. When we connect with our children in ways that they can understand (with versions of the Bible that they understand, with different Biblical resources that are appropriate to their learning style) we help build a strong foundation of faith in them.
It is true, that ultimately our children will need to make their own decision to follow Christ. Nevertheless at the end of the day when we are imparting every tool that we can to our children, we are putting our own faith in motion and being good stewards over the children God has given us.
So, today, start with one of these simple tools and invite your children into time in the Bible. Let it be fun and lighthearted and remember to engage with them on their level. Finally, keep your ears open for their thoughts and feelings on what you’re studying together. You might just find yourself in awe of what they're learning.
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