Starting to read the Bible as a family may feel like a task equal to rallying the family to do chores. It’s hard to get excited about chores.
I have wonderful news for you. Reading the Bible and time spent worshipping God as a family is not a chore! However, like many kids, your kids may see it as a chore if you are not clear about what the Bible is.
So let’s straighten out what we believe about the Bible, and what we want our kids to understand about the Bible, and then we will talk about four ways to get your kids excited about the Bible.
What is the Bible?
God’s Word is not a book on the shelf to be mastered. God’s Word is alive and powerful because the God it testifies about is alive and working in your home. The Jesus that Scripture bears witness to is the living Word (Hebrews 4:12; 1 Peter 2:23; John 1:1-4), and is the name above every name that you want your family to know. You open the Bible as a family because you want to know Jesus. You fill your speakers, your mornings, and the walls of your home with his Word, because you love the Person who is speaking to you and revealed to you through the Bible.
One way to foster excitement about the Bible in your home is to remind your kids that the Bible isn’t just a book; it’s how we come to know God. Discovering who God is and what he has done for us is an exciting endeavor! Talk about the Bible as though it’s the Word of God given to you out of his love. Treat it as a treasure. Your kids may then, by God’s grace, grow to see it as it is—the book that helps us get to know Jesus.
Alright, now let’s consider four ways to get your kids excited about the Bible. This task begins with you.
1. Invest in Your Own Joy
Your attitude regarding the Bible will directly impact your kids’ attitudes about the Bible. Kids learn just as much, if not more, from observation than instruction. A sense of delight in God’s Word can be caught as well as taught in your home. Joy is an experience to be had, not an idea to be transferred. You can model that joy for your kids as you spend time in God’s Word and learn to delight in it yourself. You want to offer God’s Word to your kids the same way the psalmist speaks to us:
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. (Psalm 34:8 NIV)
Having tasted the goodness of God, the psalmist encourages us to find our refuge in God. When you taste and see the goodness of God in his Word, you will naturally be driven to encourage your kids to also find their joy in him.
In order to get your kids excited about God’s Word, spend time in it yourself, for your own joy. Prioritize your delight in God, and your delight might turn out to be contagious.
2. Ask the Lord for Help
While you are seeking the Lord, be sure to ask him to help your kids love his Word, and know him through it. For without the Lord’s gracious initiative in our lives, none of us can accept his Word.
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (John 3:3 NIV)
The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:14 NIV)
Kids don’t come to love God’s Word because they are born into Christian families. Kids come to love God’s Word because they are re-born into God’s family by his Spirit working in their hearts. Ask God to give your kids faith in Jesus!
Only those who God has brought into his family through faith in Jesus have been given his Spirit and can accept God’s Word as a treasure and joy. Genuine life-long excitement over God’s Word is a gift we must receive that only God can give. Pray that the Lord gives your kids the enduring excitement that flows from genuine faith.
However, faith comes by hearing God’s Word (Romans 10:17). When you open the Bible with your kids, you are trusting in the Holy Spirit to work faith in their hearts through the means he has provided. So every time you cause your kids to encounter God’s Word, you are actively hoping in and trusting in God to work salvation on their behalf.
3. Consider Your Kids’ Interests
You want your kids to hear God’s Word, and to take an interest in it. So you could sit them down every night for an hour—but even kids that like to read books often don’t sit still for long. Don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to make God’s Word a part of your home without turning your home into a classroom.
Consider this encouragement from Philippians:
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4 ESV)
Instead of considering how you want your kids to engage with Scripture, consider how they might enjoy engaging with Scripture.
Consider your kids’ interests. You can play games that help with Bible memory, you can color Bible stories or write out Bible verses, you can sing and dance to Scripture memory songs, you can read at bedtime and breakfast, and you can act out Bible stories. Or, as in my home, my siblings and I got excited when our dad got home from work because part of having him home meant we read a Bible story with him. We got excited to read the Bible because it was quality time with our dad. Ask God for creativity to pair his Word with activities that already excite your kids.
4. Exercise Wisdom
Lastly, let’s consider how to keep your kids excited about the Bible. This requires sensitivity and attentiveness to your kids. God’s Word wisely instructs parents:
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4 NIV)
Parents have the opportunity to train their kids in the ways of God. Yet, we must consider how we train our children, so as not to exasperate them or frustrate them unnecessarily. The manner in which you teach your kids about God’s Word matters as much as the material you share with them. Exercise wisdom as you deliver God’s Word so that it is a welcome activity for your kids.
Parents want to avoid exasperating approaches to teaching God’s Word. Let’s take a silly example. Let’s say you establish a principle in the home like “no breakfast until we have read the Bible.” That may sound like the anthem of a well-prioritized family, but in reality, that kind of rule is exasperating when your kids wake up hungry and the barrier to them getting what they need is Bible-time! This kind of approach would misrepresent God’s character, who loves to care for us, body and soul.
Let’s now take a positive example. Let’s say you give your children the freedom to choose the music your family listens to in the car, or while doing chores, or while enjoying an afternoon at home, so long as it’s Christian music. Your children may enjoy this freedom and learn to love to sing and dance along to biblically rich music.
Consider how your implementation of God’s Word into your home life will be received by your kids, and strive to make it a delightful time, not something they dread.
If you want your kids to be eager to open up the Bible, you must set the emotional tone of your home, by being eager to open God’s Word yourself. But enthusiasm cannot incline their hearts one way or another—God must work in each child’s heart. Pray for your kids to believe what they hear from God’s Word and to desire more of his Word. As you consider how to make God’s Word part of your family culture, consider the interests of your kids, and how you might integrate God’s Word with their favorite activities. As you deliver God’s Word to your kids, do so with sensitivity and wisdom.
May God bless every effort you make to get your kids excited about the gift of the Bible, his Word.