JumpIntoTheWord

Bible Engagement Blog


Leave a comment

Family Bible Engagement

Many Christian parents want to raise their children in the way of the Lord, but see it as a daunting task – especially when they don’t know what to do or how to do it. So here are some suggestions concerning family Bible engagement:

  1. Make the Bible accessible. Remarkably, in many Christian homes, the Bible isn’t readily available. Children are naturally curious. If the Bible is left sitting on the kitchen table and they see you regularly opening and reading it, they’ll be more likely to open and read it too. “We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders” Psalm 78:4 (NLT).
  2. Draw them into the Story. Children love stories and the Bible is full of them (80% of the Bible is narrative). With children up to 12 years of age you should mainly share the Gospel stories and aim to help them see Jesus and His phenomenal love for them, because this is where Christian faith begins. “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” Psalm 119:130 (NIV).
  3. Be enthusiastic. Many years ago our family was invited to dinner with another family. When we’d finished eating the father pulled out the KJV and began to read. He read for about 10 minutes in a way that had me praying for the agony to end! Since then I’ve always told parents to use a version of the Bible with contemporary language and to read it with a voice that suitably dramatizes the text and gets the children wanting to hear more.
  4. Lead them to Jesus. Above all else, family Bible engagement should be Jesus engagement. When you open the Bible, do so in a way that opens a window through which your children can see Jesus. The primary aim of family Bible engagement should be nothing less than to see the beauty, glory, grace, and awesomeness of Jesus.
  5. Share the adventure. Jump in – boots and all! Think of family Bible engagement as a quest, i.e. the pursuit of Jesus. There’s no perfect way to do family Bible engagement, but when imperfect people journey together in the Word, amazing and exciting things happen. “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it” Luke 11:28 (NIV).
  6. Incorporate object lessons. Jesus constantly used familiar examples from everyday life in His preaching and teaching. Object lessons, properly used, capture the children’s attention and helps them connect the dots to a biblical truth. Here’s where Google is helpful – simply search for “Kids object lesson on …………. (insert topic)” and you’ll discover lots of ideas.
  7. Engage the senses. Family Bible engagement should incorporate all five senses. Sight and sound are more commonly used in Bible engagement, so it usually requires a little creative preparation to integrate taste, touch and smell. For example, when reading about Jesus being the “bread of life” (cf. John 6:35) you can employ all the senses by eating some freshly baked bread.
  8. Look for teachable moments (unplanned opportunities to provide insight and understanding). Keep your eyes peeled and your ears open to what’s happening in the lives of your children. God’s Word will come alive for children when you sense and seize on everyday happenings in their lives as openings to instruct and apply biblical truth.
  9. Rely on the Holy Spirit. Bible engagement isn’t a solo affair. The One who is the Word teaches children the Word. He will also direct you as you connect your family with the Word. So make it your responsibility to draw your children to the Word, and trust Him to open their hearts and minds to Him. “The Spirit shows what is true and will come and guide you into the full truth: John 16:13 (CEV).
  10. Pray the Scriptures. Children should pray the Word as naturally as they read the Word. When children pray the Word it transforms their hearts. Which is why prayer should never be rushed and the content should be closely aligned with what’s been gleaned from a text/passage.

While much more could be said, there’s probably enough in the points above to help you and your family meet with Jesus in and through His Word. Regardless of whether you incorporate all or some of the suggestions for family Bible engagement, don’t hold back from doing everything you can do to help your family grow in their love for the Word and for the One who is the Word, Jesus Christ.

© Scripture Union Canada 2018

2 Corinthians 4:5


Leave a comment

How To Help Children Get Into The Word

Parents sometimes ask me, “How can we help our children get into the Word?” This is a great question. It recognizes that one of the most important things we can do for our children is help them meet with God and learn His ways. And more, when children get into the Word they develop a biblical world view that informs and directs their beliefs and actions.

What follows are three essential things my wife and I did to help our children get into the Word:

  • Be seen reading the Bible yourself. More is caught than taught. When our children were younger it was evident we were reading the Bible because it was in a book form. Morning or evening, or some other time during the day, our children would see one of us sitting in a chair or lying on a couch with a Bible in hand. Now I mainly read the Scriptures on my tablet or laptop, so what I may be reading or doing isn’t evident. That’s why we recommend, if you have younger children (ours are adults), using a hard copy.
  • Read the Bible with your children. A joy shared is a joy doubled. One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is a love for God’s Word. But it doesn’t happen through osmosis. Children need to regularly hear the Bible read by their Dad or Mom. Why? Because when they hear and chat with you about the Word they’ll understand why you treasure it and why they in turn should likewise value and live by it.
  • Capitalize on teachable moments. There are countless unplanned events you can use to connect your children with God’s Word. Bible engagement shouldn’t be compartmentalized – it should be part and parcel of the things we say, do and experience every day. So a difficult day at school becomes an opportunity to read about how God cares for us, or seeing a beautiful flower sparks a conversation about the wonder of creation and reflecting on Genesis 1. And when your children are older the teachable moments ramp up to include theological discussions (informed and rooted in the Word) on all manner of subjects, musings, ethics, philosophies, moral dilemmas, perspectives and such.

There are many other basic things that we did to help our children get into the Word. But most importantly, we also prayed – trusting God to stir up a desire and love for His Word in their hearts and minds. And He did. And now they are adults, with their own children, and they have not departed from it (cf. Proverbs 22:6).

© Scripture Union Canada, 2015

2 Corinthians 4:5


2 Comments

Ten Ways To Help Children Engage With The Bible

“Point your kids in the right direction – when they’re old they won’t be lost” Proverbs 22:6 (Msg).

To help children be on the right path and stay on it we must teach them the Scriptures (cf. Deuteronomy 6:7).

Here are ten ways for parents to help children engage with the Bible:

Do it together. Talk about the Scriptures at home (cf. Deuteronomy 6:7). The Bible is about relationships (with God and others) and well suited to family settings. Take turns reading it. Fix a regular time for doing it (e.g. supper). Make it interactive.

Make it appealing. Children draft off the emotions of their parents. Read the Bible with excitement, wonder and passion. Be dramatic. Be expressive. Add fun elements.

Connect it. Relate the Scriptures to real life events that are happening here and now. Capitalize on teachable moments. Form links to your children’s interests and experiences. Think like a boy/think like a girl. Show children the bigger picture.

Apply it. Find practical ways to enable children to live what they learn. For example, if you’re reading about loving others; take your children to the local soup kitchen to help out.

Talk about it. Encourage children to share their thoughts. Facilitate dialogue and discussion. Foster an environment for asking questions and making comments. Keep it conversational. Help them reflect on their interpretations and perceptions. Chat about your own experiences and insights. Use illustrations, testimonies and stories.

Be creative. Sing the Scriptures. Act them out. Use finger puppets. Make things. Write a play. Dress up. Speak with accents or different voices. Play experiential games. Eat what biblical characters ate (e.g. matzos when reading about the Passover in Luke 22).

Go visual. Check out The Bible Project and Max7. Download the free Bible App for Kids.

Be realistic. Don’t expect too much. Don’t settle for too little. There will be stops and starts, set-backs and victories. Roll with it. Pray. Encourage your children to persevere.

Use age appropriate resources. Check out Scripture Union’s Bible reading guides at http://www.scriptureunion.ca/bookstore-1/bible-guides/children?Page=1&Items=9 and Scripture books for children aged 4-8 at http://www.scriptureunion.ca/bookstore-1/books-children/rhyming-books And a shout-out for Phil Vischers What’s in the Bible? DVD series – it’s an excellent resource for elementary age children.

Do it yourself. More is caught than taught. Children learn to value what you value. Model a love for God’s Word. When children see you regularly reading the Bible, it helps them develop a Bible reading habit.

Make a contribution. Share your comments, guidelines or practical suggestions to help children engage with the Bible.

© Scripture Union Canada 2015

2 Corinthians 4:5


Leave a comment

What Bible Should I Read?

I’m often asked, “What Bible should I read?” Associated comments and questions include: “There are so many Bibles to choose from. I don’t know which one to pick. Why the different versions? Does it matter which one I read?”

I respond by asking several more questions:

What do you like to read? The intent behind this question is to try and glean a person’s level of proficiency with the English language. If you say you don’t read much, I usually suggest an audio alternative like The Bible Experience or The Listener’s Bible. If you like reading popular literature I may suggest the New Living Translation, Contemporary English or New International Version. If you’re more academic in your reading I might recommend the English Standard or Revised Standard Version. If you tell me your favourite author is Shakespeare, I’ll recommend the King James Version.

Why do you want to read the Bible? Some people want to read the Bible devotionally for their personal enrichment while others are more inclined to studying the Scriptures. Paraphrases like The Message, Easy Read Version, and Today’s English Version (Good News) make for a great devotional read. The Amplified, Life Application, New International, Holman Christian Standard and English Standard Version are popular study Bibles. For the really serious student, pastor or teacher, the Interlinear Bible may be the answer.

What version of the Bible is used in your church? If the preacher mainly preaches from his/her favourite version of the Bible it may be helpful to have that version in hand in order to better track with the exegesis of the text. There’s also the issue of communal Bible reading – when the Scriptures are read publically it can be more difficult to follow along if we’re not reading the same text.

Vocation is an additional dynamic to keep in mind. If a person is a college or university student, I may be inclined to recommend a reference Bible in the New International or New King James Version. For hunters and fishermen The Sportsman’s Bible is a good choice. If you’re an athlete I’d suggest God’s Game Plan. If you’re serving in the armed forces, the Military Camo Bible. There are many other vocationally focused Bibles.

Age and gender are also major factors to be considered. For children aged 6-10 the New International Reader’s Version Adventure Bible is a good option. The Manga Bible is great for older children because it utilizes an engaging cartoon format. The Women’s Devotional Bible may be an option for women and seniors are usually more comfortable with a Giant Print or Legacy Bible.

Finally, if you use an electronic reading device, tablet or smart phone, then you should consider downloading the YouVersion, Glo Bible, or Bible.is App. The Bible Gateway App is another option – it gives you a choice of more than a 100 English and 45 versions in other languages.

If you’re still not sure, you’re not alone. I’ve got nearly a hundred different printed Bibles in my personal library!

© Scripture Union Canada 2013


Leave a comment

Family Faith Formation

Family matters! Here are several practical suggestions to help get the family into the Word:

  • Use versions of the Bible suitable for the grade level of each member of the family. You’d think this would be a no-brainer, but some parents give their children the KJV, NRSV, RSV or NASB (versions using grade 11 language). A child should understand what he or she is reading. Consider giving children the NIrV, NCV, TEV or NLT (versions using grade 3-6 language), give teens the CEB or NKJV (versions using grade 8 language) and give young adults the ESV or NIV (versions using grade 10 language).
  • Utilize video, internet and other technology to augment and accentuate the stories of the Bible. About two thirds of 8-18 year olds own cell phones, iPods or MP3 players and about one third own laptops. In a multimedia society it’s essential for families to be able to interact with the Bible electronically. Use social media and other means to share, tweet, text or comment on a verse.
  • Have Scripture easily accessible around the home. Display favourite verses with cool prints. Hang up Scripture posters or write/paint a special text for a child or teen on the walls in their rooms.
  • Enjoy family devotionals after dinner every day. Get everyone involved. Be enthusiastic, authentic and creative. Act out scenes in the Bible with props and costumes, pull out instruments and worship, download YouTube videos, benefit from hearty theological debates, read Bible narratives dramatically with each characters ‘lines’ in the story read by different members of the family, etc.
  • Help children and teens pick out devotionals they like at a local Christian bookstore or online. For great age appropriate Bible reading guides check out  http://scriptureunion.ca/bible-guides
  • Pray and read the Bible with young children before they go to bed. There are excellent biblical books for young children available at http://scriptureunion.ca/books-for-children
  • Be seen to be reading and reflecting on the Bible. More is caught than taught! When we see other members of the family digging into the Word it encourages us to do likewise.

© Scripture Union Canada 2013


1 Comment

Hemorrhaging Faith

According to Rick Hiemstra, Director of Research for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, young Canadian adults who have left the church by 25 years of age are unlikely to return.  Hiemstra’s comment is informed by the recent findings in Hemorrhaging Faith: Why and When Canadian Young Adults are Leaving, Staying and Returning to Church, a ground-breaking Canadian study of 2,049 young people between the ages of 18 and 34.

Other troubling revelations in the study include:

  • Two in three young adults who attended church weekly as a child don’t do so today
  • Three out of five young adults who stop attending church reject their Christian identity
  • More young adults checked out of church between grades 8 and 9 than between high school and post secondary education/careers

Why are most churched Canadian young adults leaving church? One of the significant findings of the study is the direct correlation between hemorrhaging faith and the spiritual disciplines of Christian parents. When mom and dad are seen by their children to read their Bibles, pray and go to church regularly, then the children will more than likely continue in the faith as adults. But when parents inconsistently or almost never read their Bibles, pray, or attend church, their children usually stop attending church just as soon as they can.

Parents, you are the most important spiritual influence in your children’s lives. Do your children see you regularly reading your Bible, praying and going to church? More is caught than taught. When you aren’t practicing basic spiritual disciplines your children ultimately view your Christian faith as inauthentic or hypocritical.

The study is a wake-up call. The disengagement and attrition of young adults from church and faith must be stopped. Something more than another book, purpose driven programs or parenting workshops is required. Sending our children to Christian schools or improving the youth ministry in local churches won’t make a huge difference. What’s needed is parents being spiritually responsible. We must do what we’re not doing. Regular Bible engagement and prayer coupled with faithful weekly church attendance should be normative for every Christian mom and dad.

© Scripture Union Canada 2013


1 Comment

Tailor Made

Bible study has to be tailor made. There’s no one size fits all.

When I was an undergraduate student in the seventies we gathered in small groups on the campus lawns, read a book of the Bible together, then marked up the text with our pencils – writing insights and questions in the margins. We used the insights and questions to share findings and fuel our discussions. We didn’t know it at the time, but Paul Byer of IVCF started developing a Bible study method along these lines in 1954. Paul’s method was later called the Manuscript Bible Study (MBS) and is extensively used by IVCF on college and university campuses today.

What works intuitively for university students may not work for children. Andy Deane, in his book, Learn To Study The Bible: Forty Different Step By Step Methods To Help You Discover, Apply And Enjoy God’s Word recommends the “Heart Monitor”, “Funnel It”, “Weather Report”, “Climb the Ladder”, or “Cross Thoughts” Bible study methods for children.

Andy’s methods are great, but there may be better Bible study methods for children geared to sports. Children at SU Canada’s sport camps or leagues receive God’s Game Plan (a sports themed Bible) and the Camper Playbook (a Bible Reading Guide). God’s Game Plan and the Camper Playbook have matching cover designs to visually remind children to use a reading guide when studying the Bible. The Bible study method recently developed for SU Canada’s sports ministry utilises a simple inductive five step approach built around sports terminology. The Sports Bible Study Method™ is:

  1. Warm Up – speak to God and invite Him to meet with you
  2. Jump In – carefully read the Bible text
  3. Dig Deep – think about what you’ve read and ask questions
  4. Do It! – apply what you’ve learned
  5. Huddle – chat to God and others

 

The Sports Bible Study Method™ works really well for sports ministry. Other methods like Lectio Divina, 4-K Method, Swedish Method, 5 Ps of Hearing God through the Bible, S.O.A.P Method and the E100 Challenge™ work really well for the contexts and people they’re designed for. Maybe you’ve used one or more of these methods. What’s ultimately important isn’t the Bible study method; it’s whether or not we’re engaging, internalising and incarnating the Word of God.

© Scripture Union Canada, 2012