It can be daunting to know where to start when it comes to reading the Bible as a family. I’m not thinking so much about the how we can read the Bible together – there are hundreds of amazing resources and suggestions out there that address this. Rather, I am seeking to reflect on what we should be reading.
Where should we start?
Here are 8 ideas of places to begin your Bible reading journey as a family. These have come from history, personal experience and from speaking with the oldest members of our congregations to hear what their parents used to do for them when they were children.
1. The core stories.
When children are young you can simply open a Bible story book, snuggle up on the sofa and start to read. Stories of Jonah, Adam and Eve, David & Goliath and the miracles of Jesus are all the more gripping when hearing them for the first time and enjoyable when they become well known. They help lay a foundation of Bible knowledge for the future. We love the ‘My first hands on Bible,’ as it uses the actual text, rather than a paraphrased version of it, but includes great activites to help hold children’s attention.
2. The Gospel stories
Taking time to read through one of the Gospels together can be a powerful way to help children get the picture of Jesus’ life and work on earth. Mark’s Gospel is the shortest one and so can be a good place to start. One elderly gentleman told me how the family Bible would be passed around the table each evening and those who were old enough to read would read a short section from it. This is a great way to share together.
3. The book of ActsActs is exciting, epic and dynamic for children. There is adventure and challenge. Persecution and power. All of this makes for a great book to read aloud together, especially when you then reflect on how God wants to use us today.
One older man told me when he was growing up his family would read one chapter from the book of Proverbs every morning. They would use the date of the month to decide which chapter to read (so on the 7th of the month they would read chapter 7). Proverbs is a great book for tweens and teens as they lay a foundation for how they want to live their life and what really matters in their future.
5. Dig deep
Choose one book of the Bible and take your time to dig deep into it. One of Paul’s letters, like Ephesians or Philippians can be a great book to choose. If you just manage one verse each time but have good conversations around it that is worthwhile as you model to your children how to learn from the Bible and listen to each other.
6. Select a theme
Choose a theme and track through the whole Bible. It might be a key word like ‘grace,’ or something on the names of God. The Family Bible by BRF is a great resource for all these starting points and includes some thematic study ideas. The theme can match where your children are at. For example, it might be you see how God protects from our enemies or look at issues of justice and care for the poor.
7. Use a Bible reading plan.
The famous holiness preacher from the 19th Century, Robert Murray McCheyne, wrote a Bible reading plan with four chapters a day to read. Two of these were intended to be read aloud as a family! Such was the weight that was given to family devotions. Using a Bible reading plan can help to keep you on track.
Why not! It has the end of God’s big story and points to the return of Christ. These are the events that our children should be aware of, they may even be living through some of them. God told us what was coming so we good be prepared and not discouraged.
How can we do it?
Here’s a few ways you can keep your family devotional times creative. For over 100 different creative activity ideas on the word, look at our resource Give Me 5.
1. Read it – Open the Bible and read direct from it. This is a great thing to do with every passage.
2. Act it – Take different parts each and act out the story (our young children loved doing David and Goliath and watching us as parents fall to the ground. It was a great way for them to learn David’s phrase – ‘You come at me with sword and spear, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied!’ One person can read the story as others act out their parts.
3. Sing it – Take a song the children know that is based on Scripture and sing it together.
4. Question it – Ask as many questions as you can about it.
5. Imagine it – Close your eyes and imagine what it was like to be there.
6. Feel it – What emotions did the characters go through in the Bible story.
7. Draw it – draw a picture of the story.
8. Make it – Create a craft of the story.
9. Record it – Use lego men, or something similar and create a stop motion movie using your phone. (To find out how to do this look online.)
10. Think on it – what does this teach us about the Lord and what should we do differently. However you do it this is key.