Submitted by Pamela Hubbard
We just wrapped up an incredible and powerful week with hundreds of kids at our annual City Kids camp. We saw friendships made, lives changed, and a hunger for the Word of God sparked in many hearts. Whether your kids attended Summerfest or not, you probably desire to encourage and motivate your children to dig deeper into the Bible and discover the truths of God for themselves. How do you make that a reality in the midst of your busy everyday life?
Parenting can be a frustrating balancing act. We know we have to stay rooted in the day-to-day in order to keep life running smoothly, but when we pull back and look at the bigger picture we realize how much our seemingly insignificant actions and teachable moments add up. We are forced to live in the present, but if we want our kids to develop character and grow into strong men and women of God, we also have to walk through the everyday with an eternal perspective.
Consider this: If you only shared the basic message of the gospel with your children 1 time every 2 weeks, by the age of 5 they will have already heard the beautiful story of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration about 130 times.
Let that sink in for a minute. I don’t know what sharing the gospel looks like in your home, but during our morning devotion time my kids run around, interrupt with completely irrelevant questions, or seem to zone out. It would be easy to say, “This isn’t working. Why do we bother?”
But it is working! Those seeds are being planted and watered and God will cause them to grow. God, who is a much better cultivator of our children’s hearts than we will ever be, is the one who will take our meager efforts and make them into something world-changing.
How can we plant these foundational truths into our kids’ hearts each day so they can grow to love the Word of God and let the gospel infiltrate their lives?
I heard a wise friend recently say, “You don’t replicate your ideal self, you replicate your actual self.” If you want your kids to love and serve Jesus, speak kindly to others, and develop discipline in their life, they need to see you walking it out yourself. You are the one leading your kids by example, and “do as I say, not as I do” does not fly with our observant, astute little ones.
So instead of blame-shifting, making excuses, or being too busy to stop and evaluate yourself, set the tone in your family by being a lover of the Word yourself. Even if you don’t feel like you get much out of it when you are constantly interrupted, let your kids see you reading the Bible.
Model your reliance on Jesus by making prayer your first response to every situation, from skinned knees to the lack of parking spots. Memorize scripture with your kids so you are both learning the same thing at the same time and can share your insights with each other. If kids can pick up negative behavior from others subconsciously, they can absorb the healthy habits too.
When we first introduced memory verses, family devotions, and morning Bible reading, my four-year-old fought us tooth and nail. She just wanted to keep playing and didn’t want to cooperate, as is the norm with many kids of toddler or preschool age. If you’re a parent, you know that sometimes you just aren’t up for the battle.
But habits take time to develop and it’s no different for kids. They need you to come alongside them and create structure and routines that include the Bible. Don’t feel like you are nagging them when you remind them to read their Bibles every day; you are leading them one step towards a life of following hard after Jesus. If you feel tired or rushed and don’t want to follow through, remember that it’s the small actions that change lives and sadly, one or two skipped days can end a habit altogether. Think of yourself as your child’s very first accountability partner.
Once my daughter realized how much fun family devotions could be and how it connected us as a family, she was all in. Now, months later, she frequently asks, “Is it family devotion day?”
Perspective is a common parenting battle. When the days are long, sleep is limited, and you feel like you are always putting out fires, perspective is hard to come by. When you’re in survival mode or life is so busy you can’t keep up, it is tempting to put spiritual development on hold because it doesn’t seem as pressing as getting dinner on the table.
The truth is, it’s so urgent and pressing that it needs to trump everything else in importance. That doesn’t mean you spend hours a day drilling your kids on the books of the Bible, but it does mean weaving the gospel message into your day. This is on us as parents. We have to shift our perspective first, realizing just how important it is to live and breathe the Word of God. When you practice your memory verses together while doing errands, ask your kids to pray for you when you’re struggling, or burst out in a worship song while wiping the table, you are shaping souls. Don’t discount the little things; God uses it all.
Give Them The Right Tools
Kids love the opportunity to feel grown up and take ownership of their lives. I’ve noticed that when I model the right behavior, share the heart behind what we do, equip my kids with the right tools, and then let go and let them practice, they grow further and deeper than they did when I was trying to call all the shots.
I want my kids to make this their own. When they are grown, I won’t be there to make sure they read their Bible but I want to have full confidence that I did my part to equip them to follow Jesus on their own.
If you get books and Bibles in their hands that will foster their love of the Word and encourage them to be excited about learning about Jesus, they will take it and run with it. Teach them to turn their eyes to both the overarching gospel theme and the metanarrative that runs through every story and help them create a worldview that they can build on as they grow. Model how to study the Bible by asking them questions, pointing things out, and going deeper than just reading.
Here are some incredible resources to get into your kids’ hands!
Resources to Equip Your Kids to Love the Word
This will forever be my favorite children’s Bible. It tells each individual story with the big picture in mind. Every story, no matter how terrible and heartbreaking, ends with the promise and hope that Jesus will bring. By the time you get to Jesus’ birth, you will be full of anticipation and excitement. We read out of this Bible every morning, and when we’ve gone through the whole thing, we start again! Truth be told, I am usually in tears when I get to the part about “God’s never-stopping, never-giving-up, always and forever love.”
Este libro también está disponible en español aquí.
Just like the Jesus Calling devotionals for adults, this Bible is told as a love story from God to his kids. It is beautifully written, brings the Bible to life, and will help your kids relate to the Word of God.
This is another one that uses the gospel narrative to bring the whole Bible together into one story - the story of God’s plan for his people through the redemption of Jesus.
I know a certain elementary school boy who has read this Bible cover to cover three times this year already! If that’s not a strong enough recommendation, this visual Bible will capture the attention of your kids and draw them into God’s story. As a bonus, it’s arranged chronologically to help kids follow the historical flow of the Bible.
After a lifetime of reading the Bible looking for something for myself, I have been transformed by searching the Word only looking for God and who He is. This may be a kid’s devotional, but I loved reading about the names of God in scripture and what they reveal about his nature and character. This book helps kids learn about who God is and apply it to their everyday lives.
The word “catechism” seems ancient and out of place in our progressive Christianity, but in reality, catechisms are simply a collection of questions and answers to help you memorize basic tenets of our faith. We learn one catechism a week during our family devotions and practice it all week, also reviewing the ones we’ve already memorized. My two little ones are learning doctrine that will guide them as they grow and are forced to grapple with tough issues.
What sets this resource apart is that it’s for everyone. The book has the full answers to the questions, but also a shorter, highlighted portion for children. The app, which is free and which I strongly suggest you download ASAP, has catchy songs for every question. We sing these all the time and I love how quickly my kids grasp these pivotal truths.
Written by the same author as the Jesus Storybook Bible, these profound thoughts on faith offer an incredible opportunity to spark spiritual conversations with your kids. This is better suited for the 4 and up crowd.
This resource gives kids the opportunity to write out a short passage of the Bible, share what it means either through words or drawings, and decide how to apply to their day. And since it’s for kids, it comes with fun stickers and plenty of unique touches that will excite their little hearts. This is ideal for kids who can write on their own.
Cultivate a Passion
Just the fact that you are reading this shows that you have a heart to lead your kids towards Christ. For that alone, your kids are blessed. Now go and take the next step that’s in front of you and keep getting more Jesus in your life and the life of your kids!