Disclaimer: This post isn’t meant to ruffle feathers. It’s been sitting in my blog post folder for well over a year. I think now, more than ever, I’m learning I have a passion to teach kids the Word of God and, along with that, how to actually use the Word of God. Call me old-fashioned. Call me legalistic. I am just afraid we are raising a generation of Biblically illiterate kids. While I want them to know the Truth of God’s Word more than anything, I also want them to know how (literally) to find that Truth for themselves.
Growing up in church, I learned the books of the Bible. I took my Bible to church. I knew the divisions of the Bible and what took place in each. I memorized Scripture. I was able to find verses in the Bible. I confess, at the beginning, it was a self-imposed expectation. Or maybe it was to earn that reward in Sunday school. Regardless, the importance of that Biblical foundation has never wavered. It is strong. The Bible is no longer an obligation to me; it’s a joyous part of who I am.
As someone who now has kids, works with kids, and writes for kids, I confess … I am at a crossroads. Where are the Bible skills I learned as a child? Has technology taken the place of opening Bibles and knowing where things are found? Are Bible skills a thing of the past?
Don’t get me wrong – I use a Bible app regularly. But, there is something about having a printed copy of God’s Word that helps His Word come alive to me.
I wholeheartedly believe Bible skills are relevant for children, even amidst our world of technology, where we can google a topic or verse in an instant. Why? Here are two reasons:
The Bible is eternal. It will be with them forever (1 Peter 1:25). God’s Word will always be God’s Word. The Bible my great-grandparents read from is the same one I read today. Yes, there may be translation updates, but the message remains the same. We teach our kids the alphabet. We teach our kids to tie their shoes. We teach our kids to ride a bike. These things stick with them forever. Why not spend time instilling a knowledge of God’s Word in them? It will have eternal significance.
The Bible is God’s Word. We should hide it in our hearts (Psalm 119:11). My children are young (4 and 7). They are not too young for the Bible. We can read it together. We can learn from it together. By modeling this with my kids, they are gaining an understanding of the importance of God’s Word in their lives. They will know our family centers our life around the principles we learn from God as we read and study, even if they don’t fully grasp all of the details.
How can I help my kids become Biblically literate? While I’m not campaigning for the necessity of raising Bible scholars, I am advocating for the comprehension of basic Bible knowledge. As kids gain an understanding of the Book that holds the Truth of what it means to know God, I believe they will grow in both their theological knowledge and personal relationship with God. What do I mean by basic Biblical knowledge? Here are a few examples of basic things to know about the Bible:
The Bible has two parts – the Old Testament and the New Testament. Each division is broken up in to smaller parts called books.
A Bible reference contains the Bible book, chapter, and verse number.
The Old Testament is in the front and tells of life before Jesus was born; the New Testament is in the back and tells the story of Jesus on earth and after His ascension into heaven.
Genesis is the first book of the Bible; Revelation is the last.
The Gospels tell us about Jesus when He lived on earth. There are four – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
As kids gain an understanding of the basics, move on to more challenging aspects like the divisions of the Bible, memorizing books of the Bible, and knowing the setting of each book. While I personally think learning the books of the Bible is extremely important, I also realize there is a thing called a table of contents. Teach your kids to use it as a tool to help them find and learn the books of the Bible.
And don’t forget the incredible importance of Scripture memory!
You might be inclined to think, “Well, we go to church, so my kids are learning these things each week.” Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s always the case. Because of that:
Don’t be afraid to advocate for Bible skills to be taught in their classes on Sundays. When a dear friend and I realized our children’s classes didn’t have Bibles on hand to use (which was almost too much to fathom), we asked the church to get them. They did. Though we cannot control what happens in the classes each week and whether or not they are using them, they are available.
If you notice teachers don’t have basic Bible skills, ask your church to offer a training session on basic Bible skills for adults. Volunteers are often hard to come by; but, that doesn’t mean we should put these skills on the backburner. Have games and activities prepped and ready to teach Bible skills. Just like any type of learning, you can make it as fun or as boring as you wish!
Be proactive with your children. Make them take a Bible to church. During services, help them open the Bible to the Bible passage being taught. Read with them at night. Find a devotional with Scripture that you can look up and read in the Bible together. For younger kids, read out of books like The Jesus Storybook Bible, but also show them where these stories are found in an actual Bible. (I love The Jesus Storybook Bible, but this is a story written by Sally Lloyd-Jones based on Scripture. It’s not the inspired Word of God.)
I’m committing to teach my kids practical Bible skills. I’m praying it will lay a foundation for actively and purposefully using God’s Word in their lives as they grow and mature. Christians base their lives on what they read and hear in the Bible; that’s reason enough to know how to use it and use it well. As we teach our kids practical Bible skills, I’m hopeful the Bible will come alive, be less intimidating, and change their hearts forever.