The primary role of the Christian parent is to “bring [our children] up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). It’s not the job of our Sunday school teachers, though they can surely assist; it’s the job of the parent. Moses instructed the people of Israel on the importance of parents instructing their children…
These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life….These commandments that I give 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
What to Read?
Reading the Bible from front to back, verse by verse, isn’t the best idea. It’s a great idea to walk through the Scriptures, from beginning to end, but it’s best to summarize the teachings and stories and audibly read only small portions. (And I do think it’s important to actually read passages from the Scriptures not only summarize. Reading the Bible aloud teaches our children that reading the it is both good and doable! Plus, reading aloud to our children is a proven way to help them develop better reading skills.) Of course, this requires a little preparation on the part of mom and dad. If that seems a bit daunting, consider using Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God by Marty Machowski – it’s a terrific aid in leading family Bible studies.
If you feel you or your children aren’t ready to do a Bible study like that, consider using a children’s Bible at first. I would recommend The Jesus Story Book Bible or The Big Picture Storybook Bible. Both of these are excellent and will help both you and your children not only learn the contents of the Bible, but you will find yourselves developing a deeper understanding of how the Bible stories and teachings all fit together into one glorious redemptive story – the Gospel of Christ. (And you will also probably be better equipped to begin walking your children through Bible yourself!)
Keep It Short
Let’s face it. Children have short attention spans (and so do most adults!). Keeping it short and to the point is key. Read or lead the actual Bible study for about 5 to 10 minutes (of course, with older children you can do it for a longer period of time), ask them a few questions about what you just read or taught, and then pray. Keep them involved. If they are old enough to read, ask them to do so. If not, have them pray at the end of the study.
Consistency and Longevity is Key
This is probably the toughest part, as well as the most important part! I know life get’s busy. There will be some days when we simply cannot do it. But we must make it a priority. Eventually your children will even help you stay on task. They will look forward to family Bible studies and even begin to ask you for it, excited about what they will be learning next.
Some Great Resources: