Reading The Bible As A Family
by Jeannette Taylor, Development Editor, The Family Reading Bible
When my first son, Steven, was born, an older friend told me, “You wonÕt believe me now, but trust me, you will—you’ll blink, and he’ll be in college.” He was right—I do believe him now. Steven will be 18 in a couple of months and is looking at college options. It seems like just yesterday that I could hold him in one arm—truly an impossibility today!
In the rush and scurry and schedule upheaval of life, our years with our children fly by. Here’s another way to look at it. By the time a child is nine, 50% of the time they’ll spend in your home has already gone by.
What this means to us as Christian parents is our time to teach our children to love and serve the Lord is short. At an early age, we need to start opening the Bible with our children, reading God’s words to them so those words become fixed in their hearts and minds.
Over the last few months we’ve made a change to our family devotional time. We’ve started reading straight out of the Bible to our boys, using a reading plan that follows the narrative flow of God’s great redemption story. Most of our previous family devotional times have featured a little bit of Scripture and a lot of commentary. Now our devotions feature a lot of Scripture and a little bit of commentary. Read in story order, the Bible truly comes alive. The lives of Biblical characters, the stories we know so well (and many we don’t), the lessons God wants us to learn almost jump off the page. As a family we’ve laughed, questioned, wondered, and been surprised at what we’ve read. I find the boys are listening—really listening—as their dad reads the Bible to them.
Reading right out of the Bible sends multiple positive messages to our kids. It tells them that we as parents believe God’s Word is important, that the Bible matters to us and we want it to matter to them. They realize that the Bible is understandable and that God’s message isn’t just for grown-ups. The kids see that as parents we are learning new lessons from the Bible just as they are; God’s Word is living and relevant for people of all ages.
God tells us as parents that it is our job to train our children to know and understand His Word. It’s not the pastor’s job or a Sunday School teacher’s job or the youth leader’s job. In Deuteronomy 6, God instructs us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give to you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deut. 6:5-7)
The instruction to parents from God is quite clear, and as Christian parents we’re aware that we should be having devotions with our kids. Why, then, do studies show that only 10% of Christian families read the Bible together? I think we sometimes put too much pressure on ourselves. Don’t try to make family devotions perfect. Instead, try to make them intriguing. Don’t expect that children will be attentive every time. But let them know you’ll be asking questions after you read. Establish a regular time to have family devotions but recognize that having devotions seven out of seven days is difficult to achieve in nearly all families. Celebrate the small victories of finishing a book of the Bible or reading a Bible story no one in the family has read before.
The Million Family Bible-Reading Initiative has been created to encourage families to read the Bible together. Studies have shown that even at a young age children can begin to absorb Biblical truths and the powerful reality that God loves them and sent his Son to save them.
Visit www.familyreadingbible.com to sign up to part of the Million Bible-Reading Families initiative and learn about a Bible designed to help parents lead family devotions, The Family Reading Bible. Begin today to follow Deuteronomy 6 and impress the hearts of your children with God’s amazing story of redemption.