8 tips that improved my Bible reading with my kids

  • Marty Sweeney
  • 28 August 2017

I know that reading the Bible with my kids is important—but I find it a real challenge. Even though my four kids are keen to read the Bible, it’s a lot harder to get God’s word in front of them than it should be. You would think that a seminary-trained pastor like myself wouldn’t need much help. I’ve been trained in teaching people the Bible, and I have lots of experience in explaining it to others. It’s what I do every week.

But I still struggle to do it. With all the different schedules going on in our household, it’s hard to find a consistent time for us to sit down together and do any activity, let alone a 20-minute Bible study.

I also struggle because our kids are so different developmentally. Our eldest is ten and our youngest is five, so it feels like their learning stages are worlds apart. We want to make the Bible reading interesting and engaging for our eldest, and also accessible for our younger children. This takes hard work, and when we’re already tired it can seem impossible. It’s easy to be discouraged.

My guess is that I’m not the only one who feels this way. If we’re honest, there are lots of things that make it hard for us to sit down with our children and spend time in the Scriptures together. 

So let me share with you eight tips that really encouraged me to continue persevering when it comes to reading the Bible with my children. These tips are short and practical, and helpful regardless of whether you’re in a regular Bible reading routine or a real rut. They come from Jon Nielson’s new book Bible Reading with Your Kids (published by Matthias Media):

  1. Pick a regular time and place for Bible reading
  2. Read short chunks of Scripture
  3. Where possible, pick a literal Bible translation
  4. Stop often to explain and gauge comprehension
  5. Think of age-appropriate questions for follow-up discussion
  6. Connect each story/passage to Jesus
  7. Let the Bible reading guide you to a time of prayer
  8. Be willing to do it badly.

That fourth tip changed our Bible reading immediately. It sounds straightforward and obvious, but I needed to hear it and I’ve been able to put it into practice already. Instead of racing through our devotional time, we now stop regularly to check how our kids are going. I am actively making sure that my kids understand the words and concepts in the passage. Often it’s just a short pause to ask if anything was confusing, and many times I find there was a word or phrase they simply didn’t understand. When we explain what it means, we see them really start to comprehend God’s word.

I have really been encouraged by Nielson to keep the Bible in its proper place, at the centre of our family devotions. With so many wise tips and encouragements, I’m excited to see how the wisdom in this book continues to transform the way that our family reads the Scriptures together.

If you’re like me and find that reading the Bible with your children isn’t easy, take time to reflect on the list of tips above, and consider which one you might be able to try today. Also have a read of Jon Nielson’s Bible Reading With Your Kids, where he explains each one of these tips in greater detail, both why he recommends it and how he personally has put it into action. Finally, continue to think and pray about how you will persevere in the crucial task of sharing God’s word with your children daily.

Bible Reading with Your Kids