One of the things God continually encouraged me to do was to teach Bible lessons from my heart. It is hard to walk away from resources and purchased Bible curriculum – but when I did my children connected with me and with Jesus and I know they grew because I was teaching from my heart.
One morning when our kids were young we settled down to our family devotions and the topic was “being a peacemaker”. Josh asked if he could share a verse that he had read earlier in the morning. Immediately I knew that it was the verse for us to study and ponder for that morning instead of going ahead with the book we were working through. It was such an encouraging time – not only was the Word of God quickened to our hearts but our son was hearing from God and applying the Word to his life and being brave enough to share it with others.
When we use bought resources and curriculum we sit down to teach our kids but we have our nose in a book – we are delivering the information written in a book and we deliver the lesson, day after day because that is what the author planned. There is a danger that we focus on delivering the lesson instead of teaching their hearts. We don’t have the time, the patience or the awareness to deviate and to optimise the heart things that are happening in our family.
When we teach what is on our heart, we teach out of relationship. We teach out of our relationship with God and we teach out of our relationship with our children. Both these aspects will affect the words, tone, application, of what we have to say – and to be honest – it will be received differently too. There is no joy in just delivering information – I wanted the times we came together to read the Bible to be life changing, relevant to where my children are at in their Christian walk.
God’s Word in your Heart
I’m reminded of the scripture Deut 6:4-7… it starts by saying “these words that I command you this day shall be upon your heart, and you shall teach them diligently to your children.”
There are two challenges to me in this verse:
- Are God’s words on my heart?
- Am I teaching them diligently to my kids?
Of course, when God said this, he was talking about ‘His words’. So the question becomes – What has God been teaching you? What has He been saying to you? Pass this onto your kids.
I’m not just talking about the personal rhemas and lessons that you are learning as a Christian, but rather I believe God gives you the ability to understand your children’s hearts, and you are in the unique position of knowing your child’s journey – and it is these insights that can direct you and the studies that you do with your kids.
It doesn’t mean that you won’t use resources, but it does mean that you keep those resources relevant and engaging for your children. Don’t let Bible times become a head knowledge thing – the Word of God is alive and every time it is read, there is an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to touch a heart, and change a life. Let this happen in your family Bible times.
Find Resources to Match
When I look back on our parenting years & our homeschooling, the most fruitful, most alive, most significant devotional or Bible studies came when I set aside the list of ‘doctrines’ the kids should know by certain ages, or I put aside the series of Bible studies outlined in a certain curriculum and instead asked God – “What do my kids need to learn? Where do they need to grow?”
I’m not talking about having no plans or not using resources; it is about sitting down with your kids knowing that what you are about to study is relevant to where they are at. Discipling is not just ticking the Bible study box. Intentionally discipling your children needs some prep, but a purchased sequential curriculum can often distract us from speaking and teaching freely.
My prep would start with the question – what do my children need to learn to continue to grow in their love of God, their knowledge of His Word and the wise choices they make?
I would look for resources that helped me do just that.
Sometimes we’d use a resource in its fullness, other times we would dip, and yet other times I decided we’d had enough and needed to move on regardless of how much we had covered.
The challenge to me was to deliver a lesson that was life, that had meaning and application, not just doing the lesson from the book one day after the next.
Which meant I couldn’t plan too far ahead. There is no way to plan ahead and know how your child is going to grow in spiritual maturity, or what questions or stumbling blocks they will face. By not locking ourselves into a boxed curriculum it gave us the freedom to choose resources that matched our constantly changing needs.
It starts in your Heart
With so many resources out there, so many books, DVD’s, study courses for every age it is easy to feel intimidated or to feel like you are not qualified or equipped. But God has equipped you with everything you need to do the job ahead of you. God has sent the Holy Spirit to teach and remind you of all that Jesus taught and commanded. The Holy Spirit is with you to strengthen you and encourage you to obey all that Jesus commanded.
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
God will give you the wisdom you need to disciple your children.
There are three stages in preparing to teach Bible lessons from your heart.
- You need to choose the topics and resources wisely – to match the heart needs of your children.
- You need to let that lesson sink into your own heart and be real to you. If it is just head knowledge to you – it will be head knowledge to your children. Ask yourself – How does this lesson apply to my life? What is God speaking to me about as I read this?
- You then share the lesson with your kids. You can still use the resource, but once it is in your heart you will share it with your kids, or talk to your kids about it, instead of reading a lesson.
Whether you have a carefully chosen, structured lesson plan in front of you or not, the real issue is have you learnt that lesson beforehand – not intellectually, but have you let the lesson from God’s word touch your heart – change you. Because when the Word of God changes your heart – you have something to pass onto your kids – regardless of the resources you do or don’t use. This means we need to be learning, studying, growing ourselves before we teach anything to our kids.
We don’t need to be perfect, we just need to be real in our relationship with Jesus.
This is what discipleship is – passing on values, one generation to the next.
I value God’s word – I value the Holy Spirit’s help and guidance – I value my relationship with Jesus. And I dearly wanted my kids to value the same.
Our Family Bible study time can easily become just the good thing that a Christian family does – or it can be about discipling your children – teaching, guiding, encouraging them to love Jesus and understand God’s Word.
Over to you:
When was the last time you shared with your kids the things you are learning in your relationship with Jesus? How did that go?
How to Have Bible Study with all your Kids at the Same Time: Family Bible study can be tricky when we have kids at different ages and stages, but with using these 8 keys it is possible. Bonus Parent Guide included.
Family Bible Study – with Multi-ages: One of the biggest challenges to family Bible study is the different ages, and levels of understanding with each of the children but there is a way to make Bible study a family activity.
Do your Kids Know How to Study God’s Word? Our children need to know God’s word – to move beyond knowing the stories of the Bible. They need to know how to study it, understand it and apply it to their lives.
Seeing God Every Day and Sharing it with our Kids: Every day is full of opportunity to introduce our children to God and his truth. We need to use the things we see and do as object lessons to teach the heart of our kids.