The Bible is God’s precious gift given to all. And on it, He placed no age restrictions.
Accordingly, it is vital that we understand one very important thing. The Spiritual Discipline of Engaging with the Scripture is not limited to adults. Teens can engage. Children can engage.
Engaging the Younger Generations
What matters is that we are helping our teens and children spend time in the full counsel of God’s Word.
10 Ways to Help Children Engage with Scripture
1. Involve Your Children as Cast Members
As you read the actual Bible narratives with your children, turn your home into a theater. Let each child assume the role of one of the characters, and if you run out of children, let them play multiple roles (or grab some stuffed animals and dolls from their rooms.)
2. Commission Them as Artists
There are many, many passages of Scripture that are story-driven. When you get to these, take the opportunity to activate your children’s imaginations.
Give them a sheet of paper and a pencil or some crayons and ask them to draw what they hear.
The act of drawing will engage your children with the text as it is being read. Additionally, the completed drawings will become a reference guide. They will help your children remember the people of the Bible and their stories, help you make connections for your children as you read on, and create opportunities for you to incorporate the gospel into what your children have seen and drawn.
3. Create a Mural
Involve your entire family in the art-making. Grab some poster board or butcher paper, and as a family, create a mural of what you are reading.
Feed the imaginations of your children as you read by creating your own scenes of what is happening in the text.
4. Turn the Bible Passage into a Family Research Project
Passages about constructing the tabernacle (Exodus), building the temple (1 Kings), and others of similar nature are often ones we skip over when reading the Bible with children. After all, these passages are what cause even grown adults to abandon yearly reading plans.
When you get to Bible accounts of this nature, increase your children’s interest by looking things up. A new furnishing for the tabernacle? An article of priestly clothing? The layout of the temple? Google it or look it up in a reference book. Add to your child’s view of the passage by providing visuals as seen through the eyes of an artist.
5. Shout “Amen”
Genealogies can be tough. All those names… of people you’ve never heard of. Adults skirt around them. Surely, children won’t get anything from them.
Help your children engage with these passages of genealogy and draw their interest by asking them to shout “Amen” each time they hear a name they are familiar with in the very long list being read.
“Jesus (“AMEN”), when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph (“AMEN”), the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi (“AMEN”), the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph (“AMEN”), the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos (“AMEN”), the son of Nahum (“AMEN”), the son of Esli, the son of Naggai.”
Luke 3:23-25 [(“AMEN”) added for emphasis.]
6. Play “Banker”
Another idea for engaging with passages of genealogy is to let your children be the “banker” as you read.
Before embarking on your reading of a lengthy genealogy, fill a large container with beads. Then provide each of your children with their own smaller container or cup. Instruct them to take a bead out of the larger container and put it into their own cup every time a person’s name is read. When you come to the end of the genealogy, count how many beads are in each cup.
7. Write Songs
Prior to reading the Bible text together, ask your children to listen for thoughts or phrases that would be a great song title. When you’ve finished reading your Scripture, add to the fun by writing your own hymn or worship song. Bonus points for verses or phrases that come from your reading passage!
8. Pray the Scripture
Model the praying of Scripture for your children as part of your Bible reading. Periodically, allow them to take turns praying the Scripture for themselves.
9. Encourage Retelling
Before closing your Bible and moving on to other activities, ask your child to retell the reading passage in their own words. This is a wonderful way for you to ascertain what they grasped from the reading and where you may need to make some clarifications.
Let your child know that they will be asked to retell the passage BEFORE you read through it together. This will help them be more engaged with the text and “read” with purpose.
10. Let Them Wiggle
Children need to wiggle. Their bodies aren’t built for long periods of sitting. Consider making it part of your routine to play Scripture music before or after you read the Bible together. Let them wiggle and dance so they can better focus.