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.
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.
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?