Each Christian family has to work out how they are going to teach their children about God, Jesus, and faith.  Whether you do family devotions, family Bible study, family night devotions etc  you will always come up against the problem of how to teach the older and the younger ones at the same time.  Every family will have children at different ages, different levels of understanding and even different desires for God making discussing God’s word a challenging family activity.

 

We had several different ways we focused on the Bible and our relationship with God every day in our house.

–Personal Devotions – this was a time where each individual read the Bible, pondered and responded.

–Family Devotions – this was a time where we came together as a family, read something from the Bible, discussed how it applied to our life, prayed together. It helped keep us all on the same page and was very practical, every day life faith.

–Bible Study – this was a time where we studied what the Bible said – yes, we still applied and responded to God’s word – but it was largely about knowing what God’s word said, and what it means.

It was important to me that we studied the Bible regularly, and that we did it together as a family.  The reasons why these two ideas were important was that as we studied the Bible together we not only established the Bible as an authority in our individual lives, but we also grew together as brothers and sisters in Christ, as we grew in our faith.  Even from a family routine and finding time perspective – it makes sense to study the Bible together rather than have individual lessons – but we must find a way to make it work for us.

Bonus Bible Study Guide

Includes tips, planning worksheet and discussion prompts to help your family study together. (details at the end of post)

8 Keys to making Family Bible Study
Work for Families:

1—Choose a time when everyone can focus.  Bible study was a priority for us so it had priority time slot.  For our family this was the first hour of our focus time, 4 days a week.

2—Use a version that can be understood by most kids.  We generally aimed at the middle child.  Our favourite was a Chronological Narrated Bible (this is God’s story and we read it like a story though it is truth.)

3—Review what was learnt yesterday.  This is particularly important if you are doing a systematic or chronological study.  As everyone is reminded of what has said yesterday you can build on that with today’s lesson.

4–Keep little hands busy.  During the reading the children would most often work on a Notebook page, colouring sheet, or drawing – generally connected to either today’s lesson, or yesterdays.  I found most would listen better if they kept their hands busy.  (Each child will differ here – some cope well, some get distracted)

5—Everyone has their turn to talk.   Once the reading was finished everyone gave an oral narration.    A narration is simply a retelling of what they heard, what they understood, or what they considered important (to them) – it can be word for word, summarized, or connected with other ideas.  I start with the youngest and expect a little depth to be added as the older ones take their turn.  This respects the youngest’s ability to contribute and yet challenges the older ones to add to that.   If you go from oldest to youngest, the youngest is always left with nothing to say, and the oldest sneaks in with saying the obvious.

6—Teach into what is important for that moment.  Often one of the children would mention something significant in their narration and I would come back to that and talk some more.  This became our lesson.  Sometimes it was in keeping with my lesson objective for the day, sometimes it was something completely different.

7—Lessons need to be short, relevant and engaging.   Though our children need to grow in their focus ability, we want this time to be significant and without conflict as much as possible.  So grow into Bible study with your family.   If the age gap was significant between children we would let the younger ones leave the table so we could dig in with the older ones.  But we made sure they had finished their lesson first -another reason to start the narrations with the youngest.

8—Everyone would record something they learnt.  Learning is consolidated when we take something we’ve talked about and we create something with that knowledge.  When my kids were young we created artwork (much like Sunday School activities).  As they grew older they started to write more but they could create a drawing, a project, a mindmap, artworks etc. The requirement was that they would complete something that showed me what they learnt in this lesson.

Note:  Different kids stopped joining us for Bible Study at different times – depending on their ability and interest to dig into God’s Word on their own.  This generally happened in senior highschool.

 

Teach your Kids What the Bible Says

It is all too easy to make children’s Bible time about being good – about moral lessons.  Though living a life like Jesus is part of it, the real reason we study the Bible is to know who God is and what He has to say about me, you and the world.

If we are to give our children a solid faith – something that will take them beyond their Sunday School years we must give them more than stories and more than fun activities.  We must teach them all of Scripture; to know the truths in the Bible, to respond personally to Jesus, to think about life in keeping with God’s word.

 

Be prepared – you can’t wing it for too long!

Any Bible study leader needs to put the prep in first and leading your children in a Bible study, even if you do it every day, is no different.

You need to have been through the lesson for your own heart’s sake first, you need to have thought about the who, where, when, what, and why, you need to have thought about the key truth or lesson to be learnt, you need to have prayed about letting that passage change your life.

Only as we respond to the scripture in our own life, can we teach our children about the life and truth found in Jesus.

 

Do you need help in your Family?

Hi! I’m Belinda

About Me

Belinda and her husband, Peter, live in the far north-west of Australia on a small farm. They have four adult children whom they homeschooled from prep-year 12. Over this time Belinda has taught and supported women both face to face and online. Her heart is to encourage families to be intentional, relational and heart focused in all areas of family living. She continues to do this in her new season of life – as her kids leave home one by one leaving her with more time.

Certified Life Coach

Download Bible Study Guide

Includes tips, planning worksheet and discussion prompts to help your family study together.

Over to you:

What is your experience with having a family Bible time when everyone is different ages and stages?

9 Comments

  1. Julie

    There are some fabulous ideas in here! I especially like the idea of having everyone share about the lesson, starting with the youngest. Fantastic!

    Reply
    • Belinda

      I’m glad you’ve found it helpful Julie. Truly starting with the youngest makes such a difference in so many parenting situations – but we tend to start with the eldest out of habit. I hope it makes a change for you.

      Reply
  2. Kath

    Great post, Belinda – very helpful.

    Reply
  3. golisacho

    Thanks for this post. Great tips. Can you tell me about the Chronlogical bible you used?
    Did you get the kids to draw/create something for each bible lesson, every school day?? How did you get your older boy to not rush through that… to get onto his ‘real’ work. That’s what my 10and 12 year old boys would do !

    Reply
    • Belinda

      Hi there!
      We used the Book of God for Children by Walter Wangerin Jr. though the kids used a proper Bible for their own personal devotional time. This one is more content than a children’s picture Bible, but better organised than something like “The Message” It was the children’s Bible that I grew up with so I was very familiar with it. We then moved into the Narrated Bible in Chronological Order (NIV) but only once the youngest was at that level as we studied as a family.

      Yes, the kids recorded what they learnt (which could be from my
      lesson, or from their own reflective thinking) every day – we did Bible 4 days a week. When they were younger it was a drawing/colouring/craft activity that I provided, then they moved into dictating and copywriting their thoughts to me, then they moved into writing or creating on their own.

      As for ‘real work’ this was their real work. I think that was one of the big things we did was that Bible Study was a part of their study subjects – it was where they learnt their language arts, they didn’t just hear a story and draw a picture – they learnt. They learnt to understand the connections in the Bible, they learnt to think about applications – and then they used study skills during this time. They used reference books, they wrote and learnt language arts, they created and learnt the skills necessary for creating – whether it was to stay in the lines, or to use a certain computer software.

      Because we integrated our subjects – Bible Study became a place where they covered not only faith and doctrine, but also language arts, thinking and study skills, history, technology and arts. We put aside 1 to 1 1/2 hours on Bible Study.

      So it was a slightly different perspective than doing a devotions and moving on to their real work. Hope this helps to paint a picture for you.

      Reply
  4. Michael

    Great ideas,,,,gonna try some of what works for you all.My wife and i have 4 and 15 year old,letting him stay busy is great,,,if he is their,quiet, some of what he does hear will stick with him,,,,also my 15 yr old daughter is not willing to participate all though she is saved. Can any one give advice on how to bring her back to God . We are devoted christians who go to church and live like that outside of church. We always wittness to others, pray at home and in public,,,she is just rebelling and need her to come back to God….we make her sit and join our family study of God’s word,,,but she’s not engaging much,,,,all advice will be appreciated and keep us in prayers as we also pray for many others,,,,thank you so much again and God bless you thru the blood of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ

    Reply
    • Belinda

      Thanks for sharing your situation. At 15 years of age our kids start questioning and re-evaluating all that they have previously believed – they want to own their belief system for themselves – and this is a good thing. But a hard thing for parents if they choose otherwise. My biggest advice is to continue to build relationship with her, spend time with her doing things she likes, be available to help her with her world, and if the relationship is there invite her to talk about her relationship with God. It is easy for us to assess our kids relationship with God based on the externals (involvement in family devotions) but we don’t really know what is happening on the inside. We won’t know till they talk about it. So build a environment where she can feel loved, safe and accepted regardless of her faith choices – so that maybe one day she’ll talk about that aspect of her life.

      Here are two blog posts that might encourage you:
      https://livelifewithyourkids.com/2018/11/parenting-teenagers-with-love/

      https://livelifewithyourkids.com/2018/08/teens-questions-their-faith/

      Reply
  5. Margit Hall

    I love these ideas, Belinda! Thank you for sharing. You paint a vivid picture of the nuts and bolts of going about focusing on bible study. I am curious though whether you had or created a specific bible study to read together? It is overwhelming to think about ‘where to start’.

    Reply
    • Belinda

      Hi Margit – I had a reply here to you but it seems to have gone AWOL.

      No, I didn’t have a set curriculum or specific study that we did. I tried to keep away from a complete boxed curriculum when it came to our family Bible study. The thing we did most consistently was to read a Children’s Narrated Bible and discussed the lessons to be learnt from that part of the Bible. We then used some Sunday School type activities for the notebooking/lapbooks side of our studies.

      It was important to me to have the Bible Study meet the kids where they were at, so it was a bit fluid.

      I used a few different resources over the years – depending on their age and questions. We enjoyed Grapevine studies, books from Answers in Genesis, and as they came into the teen years we did books on how to study the Bible, prayer, theology (Max Lucado, Josh Harris) etc.

      When the kids were younger we enjoyed a Sunday School resource called “On the Way” which gave lesson plans (which I used as a guide) but we mostly enjoyed the paper crafts and activities that matched the Bible story lessons we were discussing.

      Reply

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