How to Study the Bible for Kids and Parents - A Starter’s Guide for Home Discipleship
Do you want to ground your children in your care in Scripture? This is a desire that most engaged Christian parents, church leaders, and educators have. And most of us search for the solution in devotional books, colorful children’s Bibles, and interactive Bible lessons. But the key to grounding our kids in Scripture is not found in any of these places.
There is an ancient proverb that says, “Give a man a fish and you have fed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime.”
We understand the wisdom of this proverb when it comes to teaching our children how to feed, clothe, and care for themselves. Yet, for some odd reason, when it comes to Bible instruction, we get stuck in the mode of handing out fish.
But what if we stopped this dangerous trend? What if, instead of leaving the kids in our care dependent on us for their spiritual nourishment, we taught them how to fish, how to read, interpret, and apply Scripture, on their own?
How Do I Start My Kids Bible Study?
So, how do we do this? How do we switch from the mode of doing all the work for our kids to equipping them to soundly read, interpret, and apply Scripture? As with anything we want to do well, the first step is developing a plan.
What Are The Steps In Studying the Bible?
Teaching kids to study the Bible well involves equipping them with transferable skills that they can use when reading any and every passage of Scripture. The format we like to use at Foundation Worldview is the format implemented in our Studying the Bible Curriculum. Check out the steps below to learn more about developing and implementing a plan to equip the kids in your care with those transferable skills to soundly read, interpret, and apply Scripture.
Step 1 - Understand the Whole Story
The first skill we need to train our children in is understanding the whole story of Scripture.
Typically, in family devotions or Sunday school, we jump from story to story to story, covering the more exciting narratives, like David and Goliath or Daniel in the lion’s den. Yet, we fail to teach the entire biblical narrative.
The danger in doing this is our children won’t understand the big-picture story of Scripture, and they will be more likely to fall prey to false biblical teaching without this knowledge.
Think of it like a movie. If all you saw of a certain movie were random clips, shown out of order, how deep would your understanding of the plot of that movie be? Not very deep. In fact, your understanding would be so shallow that it would be easy for someone to trick you into believing a falsehood about the plot of that movie and for you to believe it. However, if you watched the entire movie, multiple times, you would be much less likely to fall for a faulty plot-analysis.
It’s the same with the biblical narrative. If we equip our children to understand the whole story of Scripture, they will be much less likely to fall prey to faulty “biblical” teaching.
Step 2 - Develop the Basic Skills
The second step we need to train our children in is developing the basic skills of sound biblical interpretation.
Too often we jump straight into biblical application, before spending time on proper interpretation. And because we have failed to invest time in interpretation, we move forward with an incorrect application.
Think of it like times when your spouse asks you to do something. If you half-heartedly listen to your spouse when he is speaking to you and then jump full-speed ahead doing what you think he asked you to do, chances are you will not actually be completing what he asked you to do. Why? Because you failed to listen well.
It is the same with Scripture. We need to invest time learning what God has revealed in His Word before we move forward with putting that revelation into practice.
A great place to start is by teaching our children how to read verses in context, determine if a passage is descriptive or prescriptive, and look for objective truths revealed about God.
Step 3 - Correctly Read Each Genre
The final step in equipping our children to soundly read, interpret, and apply Scripture is training them to correctly read each Bible genre.
Often we jump from genre to genre in Scripture, without helping our children understand the nuances of each type of writing. This leaves our children confused and vulnerable to faulty interpretations of Scripture.
It’s kind of like going to a concert. You need to know the music genre of a concert before you arrive so that you will know how to dress and how you will be expected to behave. Imagine if you thought you were going to see the Rolling Stones in concert and when you arrived at the event, you realize it was a concert performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. Your dress and expectations would be completely inappropriate in that setting.
It is similar with Scripture. If we read the psalms, expecting them to be the same as a historical narrative, we will not correctly understand what is communicated in each psalm. Or, if we read the gospels, expecting them to be the same as a fairy tale, we will not correctly understand what is taught.
We need to equip our kids to understand the basic characteristics of the ancient genres of law, history, wisdom, prophecy, biography, and letter.
“Give a man a fish you have fed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime.”
And this is exactly what we need to do with the children God has placed in our care: equip them to soundly read, interpret and apply Scripture on their own.
It is my prayer that we will be faithful to this calling and that God would use our efforts to raise up a generation of children that is biblically literate, that knows how to read God’s word, loves God, is prepared to faithfully live in a hostile culture, and is able to biblically navigate any false ideas that come their way.
About Elizabeth Urbanowicz
Elizabeth Urbanowicz is a follower of Jesus who is passionate about equipping kids to understand the truth of the Christian worldview. Elizabeth holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from Gordon College, an M.S.Ed. in Education from Northern Illinois University, and an M.A. in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Elizabeth spent the first decade of her professional career teaching elementary students at a Christian school. Elizabeth now works full time on developing comparative worldview and apologetics resources for children. Her goal is to prepare the next generation to be lifelong critical thinkers and, most importantly, lifelong disciples of Jesus.
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