We hand out bibles to 2nd graders every year in May. Our church values children and this is one of the ways we celebrate significant milestones in their lives. However, we know that if we want them to develop a love for God’s word, it has to be in partnership with the families. So for our part, parents can count on our teachers and shepherds encouraging the kids to bring their bibles each week and use them in class. They’ll help them learn to find the books and chapters and get comfortable using the tools in the bible. They will also offer rewards for scripture memorization and for bringing their bible to church.
All of that will only go so far when we see them for one or two hours a week. And the parent can have only so much influence at home too. But if we work together, the impact is tremendous! So join us in this adventure and turn your child into a bible reader for life! Try one or more of these ideas at home:
Personalize it: Get your child a Bible cover that protects the book and makes it easy to carry. Include a bible highlighter, a pencil or pen and a few bookmarks. Purchase child-friendly bible tabs to help them easily find the 66 individual books of the bible. Explain to your child that this book is their own and they can highlight, underline, write notes in the margins and even draw in the blank spots.
Enrich it: Invite parents, grandparents, other family and friends to underline or highlight their favorite stories or verses; then sign it and identify it as their favorite. Have those same family members or close friends write a letter to your child explaining the significance of the bible in their own lives. They can include their own favorite scriptures and meanings behind them and they can end with a prayer of blessing for the child and their bible. Ask the pastors and leaders of our church what their favorite scripture passages are and why. Do this through email so you can print off their responses and keep them in a special place. By the way, one of my favorite scriptures is Isaiah 40:29-31. It really helps when I feel weary or out of strength (physical and mental).
Bless it: Ask a pastor, parent, or grandparent to pray over the child and their bible. Gather as a family and put the child and their bible in the middle of a circle. Pray a special blessing, or have each person take turns saying a prayer.
Explore it: Help your child discover the table of contents, the concordance and other special sections of their bible. Try utilizing those sections for finding new stuff in the bible. Look at the unique ways this children’s bible is laid out and let your child explore the fun sections.
Celebrate it: Create or go out for a special meal to celebrate this milestone. Bring the Bible and talk to the child about how important this day is in their lives. Explain why you want them to have a bible and how they can use it in their daily lives.
Carry it: All of the celebration, discovery and enrichment of a bible will not matter if the child does not learn to use it on a daily basis. Encourage them to take it to church each week. Teach them to go to it for answers when life brings tough situations. Read parts of the bible during your regular bedtime routine, and discuss its meaning afterward.
Model it: The best way to teach a child to do something is through modeling it for them. Let them see you reading your bible. Even if you normally do this after or before they are awake, take a few opportunities to read it in front of them. Talk about how you found an important scripture in your readings that helped you. Carry your bible to church with you and keep it handy at home. The more they see you opening the bible, the more they will want to open their own.
I can hear what some of you are thinking – “What if I am new to this whole Bible thing myself? What if I don’t know the answers to their questions about the bible?” This is where it is important to understand that God isn’t expecting you all to be bible experts. God just wants to use you to show your family his love and grace. This means you can quit worrying about what you know or don’t know about God and the Bible. Just be honest with your kids. If you got a late start on your walk with God, tell them that. If you have never really read or understood the bible yourself, tell them that too. If you can’t answer their questions about the bible or God, just say, “I don’t know” and find the answers together. Learn to turn to your church family, the pastors and other leaders to find answers. Pray about things you want to understand and pray with your child. Be willing to accept the mystery of God. After all, if we understood everything about God, we wouldn’t need him would we? God will honor your eagerness to know and understand him. God loves you and wants to know you better. One great way to get to know God is by exploring the bible along side your family.
May God bless you and your family! Pastor Tina