As I close the storybook Bible that Leo and I have just finished for the night, he immediately starts smacking the cover with his toddler palm and singing, “Bai-ble… bai-ble… bai-ble,” in his one and half year old voice. Apparently they taught him a song at church that goes, “Oh I love to pat the Bible, pat the Bible, pat the Bible. Oh I love to pat the Bible with the hands God gave me,” while the kids all pat their hands on the Bible. And though I don’t quite know the point of actually patting the Bible and Leo often sings this song after we read any book, I am so impressed that Leo is already learning to enjoy this book from God!
We each have our own stories of how we’ve grown to love God’s Word. Many of us grew up in church singing the “B-I-B-L-E” while others of us didn’t encounter God’s life-changing Word until much later in life. A question I’ve been pondering since our church handed us Leo’s storybook Bible just two weeks after we brought him home is, How can I nurture a love for God’s Word in this wee child? What can I start now that will create an environment for my son to encounter God’s truth on a daily basis?
Wherever you are on your mommyhood journey, today we want to meet you there. Our fabulous team of writers have been on their own adventures with engaging their children on this topic of the Word and are eager to share some of the things they’ve tried along the way. This is by no means an exhaustive list nor a complete picture of how they are raising (or have raised) their own children, but we pray this may spark some ideas for you – no matter the age of your kids!
Infants & Toddlers:
Linnette: I so agree with you Courtney! I really don’t think there is any one method or curriculum that is THE way to impart faith onto our kids. We find what fits each of our families and bring our own creativity and gifting to our own tables. I think our own example of walking out faith in front of our kids will be the most impactful “curriculum” they will get. When I had my first baby, I would practice telling her all kinds of things about God and pray for her outloud. I wanted it to always feel normal and not awkward. Beth Luebe gave me the Beginners Bible and wrote on the inside cover “It’s never too early to read the Word to your kids.” I’ve found that when my 18 month old is screaming (whether from hurting himself or not wanting to go to bed) when I pray over him and quote Scripture to him, he calms down almost immediately.
Sherry: Our kids listened to bible story cd’s at night in bed – it helped them learn them by heart and settle them down at night. I also love the Jesus Storybook Bible and it is available dramatized on CD. I remember one time when our oldest was four I asked him who he thought Jesus was. He said, “The Rescuer!” I paused not expecting that answer and then realized he was quoting our “Jesus Storybook Bible” and he was exactly right!
Preschool & Elementary:
Linnette: In the preschool years we have really enjoyed ABC Scripture memory where you learn one verse for each letter of the alphabet and the Goodnight Bible which is written to captivate 2-4 year-old minds. With my older kids, I’ve found that building prayer and Bible reading (whether the NIV, Jesus Storybook Bible, or a devotional book) into our daily routine has helped us connect with God together throughout the day. I also ask my reading kids to check me on my Scripture memory work or join me for tea and read our Bibles together. Special seasons like Advent and Lent help us hit “reset” if we’ve gotten out of the habit. One way I’ve brought my own gifting in this area is by teaching my kids hymns. I majored in music in college, so I love passing on a love for music with such rich texts.
Sherry: Right now my kids are ages 9, 12 and 13. During our homeschool Bible time this year we use The Bible Project videos and posters. These give a GREAT overview for each book and a visual for them to follow as we read. In fact, I use their app on my phone for my own daily-ish reading to help shore up my gaps in knowledge of what each book is about. Keys for Kids devotionals are also a great little 2 – 3 minute option I can play on my phone when we are in a hurry or on the go. They would definitely work for a drive to school and a quick prayer together before sending them off. These are more for 12 years old and under and you can also get a free printed copy in the mail.
Preteens and Teens:
Sherry: We started them on the TMS at tween and teen years and have them read a chapter in Proverbs every week day (we often do this together). We also use a daily gospel reading plan together and discuss what we learn about the Gospel from each verse/passage. Recently we started saving some of our homeschool Bible time until we could do it with Jeff. The boys enjoyed it so much they asked to wake up early so we could do it all together as a family again (this is unusual behavior for a 12 and 13 year old who like to sleep in!). 🙂
Beth: During the teen years we prayed through Scripture as a family when we could. Additionally, Jim would have Quiet Times with our sons on a regular basis, and each of them worked on Scripture memory at their own pace. One advantage we felt we had ministering on campus was that student leaders and staff would regularly be at our dinner table. We had intentional discussions and encouraged the boys to engage and to ask questions. The role models of these men and women who loved Jesus and the Word of God had a powerful impact on the lives of our sons. We often said that parenting was easier because of the role models of others influencing our sons.
Dana: Just so you know, our kids grew up in a heavy missionary environment. They had attended an elementary school that was led and taught by men and women who felt it was their call to move to Indonesia and teach our kids. The investment of the scriptures was indeed strong in their lives.
So, when our kids were in their early teens and started middle school I would spend time with them individually right after they got home from school chatting about their day. This was easiest with Mike as he would arrive home before his brother and sister. I would have a snack ready for him and debrief his day. He was attending an International School in Bandung at the time and these shared snack times helped me to hear what was important to him and hear how he was responding to things that happened at school. I believe that these regular times with Mike especially built a path of communication and trust for both of us. (I did not always bring up the Bible unless it would appropriately speak to his situation and heart.)
When Amy was in the International School, along with another mom, I started a Bible Study for the 7th and 8th graders who came from around the world. Most of those attending had never done anything like this nor were they Christian. There were times when everyone invited came. We always had a lot of fun as well as a lesson from the Word that mostly centered on the gospel. I did not realize it at the time but now realize that inadvertently we were helping our kids learn to engage in ministry of the Word with their peers.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)