When I was a child, I had a well-thought out idea. There are two Bibles: the children’s Bible and the adult’s Bible. The children’s Bible contained all the stories. If you wanted to read David and Goliath, Noah’s Ark, or Daniel in the Lion’s Den, then look no further than the children’s Bible. It even has pictures!
Then there was the adult’s Bible, which was far less appealing. This great tomb of literature contained all the memory verses, complete with little tags like “John 3:16” or “Genesis 1:1”. That was where all the memory verses were, of course.
So you can see why this made sense to my seven-year-old self. I’m sure we all have similar conclusions drawn at a tender age that missed the mark. The reason why this one matters is, as a Christian parent, I want to raise my children to really grasp the importance of God’s Word. I don’t want them simply coming to their own, faulty, conclusions.
Some issues with the way we teach kids about the Bible
The stories in the Bible are way more than just stories. They are part of history, and they are the way through which God has chosen to reveal Himself to us. Wow!
Yet when we teach our children about these historical events, it’s so easy to boil it down to a compact formula, the moral of which is “be obedient” or “be nice”. The Bible is more than a collection of moralistic tales.
Another issue I’ve noticed is skipping all over the place. The Bible is a complicated book. We then add to the confusion by reading about Moses one week, David next, then Jesus the next. For a little child, these out of context stories might be fun to hear about, but they may leave them wondering what the point is.
Perhaps the biggest problem of all is when we turn these stories into a focus on the Bible character instead of on God. We leave our children with the impression that David was brave, Daniel was clever, and Peter was a bit silly, but totally miss the opportunity to call to their attention the majesty, the compassion, and the all-powerfulness of God.
Foundational Bible Teaching
Parents have the awesome privilege of shaping how our children think about the Bible. The good news is that it isn’t quite as hard as you’d think. Foundational Bible teaching is the answer you’ve been looking for.
It really makes sense when you think about it. Instead of skipping around all over the place, start with the beginning and work your way through to the end. Foundational teaching requires that you lay a foundation. If you start at the beginning and work your way through, the stories slip into their rightful context.
Another benefit of this way of teaching is that all of the stories point to Jesus. Every event in the Old Testament cries out for a solution to the problem of sin and foreshadows the plan that God has in place. This helps Jesus become the climax of story, rather than just an extra character in the cast of Bible heroes.
God is the Focus
The Bible is not about us. As much as humans love to make themselves the star of the show, we are not the stars in the story of history; God is. Instead of using a Bible character as a hero, teach your children that each and every one of them was flawed. The ones that did well did so because they had faith in God.
As you work your way through the Bible with your children, let each story teach them that God is Almighty and Powerful. The response to these stories should not be to idolise a Bible character but to fall down and worship God.
Sure, your three year old might not quite grasp that yet, but you are shaping in him a disposition to be in awe, not of King David or the Apostle Paul, but in awe of the Lord God Almighty. What a privilege and what a responsibility.