Have you ever tried to explain Jesus’ family to a preschooler? It’s pretty fun. You get out a picture of Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus. You have this perfect little picture of Jesus with His mom and … hold on. You’re about to say dad, but you realize that’s kind of true and kind of … not true? And voilà. You’ve just taught the children about blended families without having any intention of doing so. Or at least, that wasn’t my own original intention as I stumbled upon this discussion my first year of teaching.
Some might call that a rookie mistake, but I like to think of it as a great example of why it’s valuable to read stories of Scripture over and over again. Here’s why.
All Scripture Is God-Breathed
In the ESV translation of Paul’s letter to Timothy, he writes that, “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
God molds and shapes us through His written word, and this includes the Bible stories! So keep on reading them, and let God do His work. He is equipping you and your child for good work in the world.
Unexpected Teaching Moments
Trying to plan a time to bring up all the random topics of life to teach your child is nearly impossible. But as you read through the Bible stories together, God provides teaching moments you never would have imagined. I got out the Christmas story with my students intending for the message to be that Jesus was born to save us from our sin—obviously a great message. God used that moment as an opportunity for me to talk to my students about the fact that we call God Father, but He also gives us families on earth to love us and take care of us. It wasn’t anything profound, but the telling of the story got us to that conversation, and it got us there in the context of God’s Word.
Through a Bible study recently, my pastor reminded me that one purpose of reading the stories can be just to build familiarity with Scripture as a whole. Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that if we haven’t been emotionally inspired by reading the Bible, something must be wrong. But it’s not. Being familiar with the Scriptures still builds faith and sets you and your children up for further understanding down the road.
The joy of reading with children is that they pick up on quirky details that you, as an adult, might just pass over because you’ve read the story so many times. I read the story of Jonah with my class last week. Once again, my intention was to talk about sharing God’s love with all people—another great message indeed. But to a class of four-year-olds, that was just not as interesting as a giant fish spitting out Jonah, which apparently sounds a lot like fake vomiting. Again, I should have known. Nevertheless, God’s Word was spoken, and the children began (or continued) their journey of familiarity with the story, even if the only detail they could glom onto at the time was fish vomit.
Telling the Stories
So how do you go about instilling the stories of faith in your children? Nothing mind-blowing here, but the obvious way to start is by reading them together. You can also read stories aloud with your spouse while your child is playing, and let him or her just hear it being read.
I also like to find a picture and then tell the story in my own words. (That’s also a good way to make sure your memory of the story is on point.) You can use cartoon drawings or realistic pictures. Children like both, but I’m often amused at how interested they are in more realistic images.
Don’t forget to sing! There are so many wonderful, playful songs that bring Bible stories to life. Play music from a device or just use your voice. It doesn’t matter how your voice sounds when you’re the beloved caretaker of your child. As long as you have fun with it, your child will too.
All Scripture is God-breathed. All Scripture is useful. All Scripture equips God’s servants for doing good in the world. So read it. Tell the stories. Tell them over and over again and let God use them to shape and teach both you and your child. God be with you as you raise your children in faith.
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