This article is part of the 7 Tips series.
Helping Kids Understand the Bible
“Why do we have to read the Bible, Daddy? It’s such a big book and hard to understand.”
As a father of five and a pastor for over two decades, I have heard a lot of good, honest questions from bright, inquisitive children. How would you answer this question or others like it? In this short article, I’ll answer that question in a roundabout way. More directly, I’ll answer the question, “Based on your experience, what tips would you offer on teaching the Bible to children?”
1. Start with prayer, and pray without ceasing.
First and foremost, pray. Pray that the Spirit will help you understand as you study the passage you are teaching on. Pray that the Spirit would give you the words to say. Pray over your lesson plan. Pray for the children by name. And pray when you gather as a family, church family, or class. Model to the children dependence on God’s guidance and wisdom in the study of his Word.
2. Practice what you preach.
Speaking of modeling, practice what you preach. That is, if you want your children, or the children you teach, to want to learn what the Bible has to say, you must let them see you reading and delighting in the Word. I’ve always been an early riser; my daughter Evelyn too! When she was a toddler, she would wake up a few minutes after I did, come down the stairs and find me in my chair with a coffee in one hand and a Bible in the other. I would get up and make her hot chocolate. She would sit quietly next to me (she is one of those who still is a quiet one!) and drink her sweet brew as I read. I don’t know for certain what she felt or thought each morning, but I know that when she heard me preach on Sundays about how important the Bible is she knew that I meant it because she saw my morning routine day after day for years. To effectively teach children, model the habits that you want to instill in them.
3. Focus on the text.
Don’t stray from the text. As teachers of little ones who live in a world with a barrage of constant entertainment, it is tempting to spend little time on the text of Scripture. But without hearing from God through God’s Word, there is no hope of them hearing the transforming news of the gospel, which is what they need most.
4. Make your Bible teaching interactive and interesting.
Brainstorm ways to include interactive and interesting components into your Bible teaching! Because children are young (their brains are still developing) and have shorter attention spans (perhaps not much shorter than most adults today!), they will struggle to understand complex concepts—like how every human being throughout all history is guilty because of Adam’s first sin. So, use simple language, avoid overwhelming them with too much information, break up stories or sections of the Bible into manageable units, and allow them to interact with you as you interact with them. Share what you found interesting or challenging. If it interests you, it will likely interest them. Ask them questions. Play games. Create crafts. Use props or other visual aids. Sing songs. Act out Bible stories. Engage their emotions and bodies through the five senses. When kids are actively involved in the learning process, they are more likely to remember what they have learned.
To effectively teach children, model the habits that you want to instill in them.
5. Apply it.
Connect the Bible to everyday life. Help children understand how the lessons you cover apply directly to the issues they face. This could include how they relate to people in authority—like their parents, teachers, pastors, or police. It could also include practical steps on how to be kind to someone who is difficult to play with, or how to ask for forgiveness when they have done something wrong. When children see how the Bible is relevant to their lives, they are more likely to engage with it and listen to its words of wisdom.
6. Be consistent.
Consistency is key when it comes to teaching children. When it is time for the lesson, it is important that teachers establish a regular routine and stick with it. It could be that you start with a fun activity, move to storytime, then the lesson, followed by a craft. When children know what to expect, they are more likely to be receptive.
7. Keep it fun!
The devil hates when God’s people are happy. So, be happy! Have some fun! Teaching the Bible to children (or everyone, but especially children!) should be both enjoyable for you and them. Other than the sure-to-be fun crafts, songs, and games that are tied directly to the text and lesson, feel free to start or end, or stop midway, and just have fun for fun’s sake.
A Deep and Lasting Relationship with God
Teaching the Bible to children can be a great challenge, but, if done well, it will be deeply rewarding. By modeling your dedication for God’s Word; creating a consistent routine; teaching the Bible text; connecting the lesson to real life (their real lives!); making it interactive, interesting, and fun; and praying together, you can help children grow in their knowledge of and love for God’s Word, as you also equip them with the tools they need to grow in their faith and make a positive impact within their home and in their community. Moreover, and more importantly, you can help them develop a deep and lasting relationship with God.
Douglas Sean O’Donnell is a contributor to The Biggest Story Curriculum.
Popular Articles in This Series
Jesus came to make it possible for all kinds of people, including angry parents, to be changed into people who yield their expectations to God in service to others, specifically their children.
Before teens can actually explain the gospel, they must first know it themselves. Then they must know how to articulate it.
Scripture speaks directly to the Christian’s responsibility to address or confront sin in the lives of other Christians.
As we emerge from this pandemic, we have a fresh opportunity to embrace essential relationships, not just returning to our pre-pandemic status-quo, but moving forward into something even better.