I get a lot of questions from parents. Most of the time I love their questions because it shows a real concern about the spiritual wellbeing of their kids. I love questions about teaching difficult texts or explaining big truths. I love questions about helping their kids deal with the pressures of life in today’s world and competing worldviews, but I have one question that I love the most. My favorite question is “what children’s Bible do you recommend?” And, based on the look on their faces, I can tell that my answer generally shocks them.
So, how to do I answer that question? What children’s Bible do I recommend?
None. I don’t.
Ok, before everyone freaks out, let me explain. My response has nothing to do with the quality of children’s Bibles out there. There are several storybook style Bibles as well as several full text Bibles with resources geared toward children that I love and would recommend in a heartbeat. I love that publishers are starting to see the need to teach children the whole counsel of God. I love that even toddler story Bible are pointing kids to the cross and their need of a Savior.
But, I answer the way I do in order to explain that children (even little ones) need to be reading and hearing the full text of the Bible. Romans 10:17 tells us, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” So, when parents ask for a Bible suggestion for their kids I point them to full-text Bibles – generally the least expensive paperback, full-text Bible available. I want them to have the Word of God in their hands and I want them to carry, read and use the Bible, not be worried about loosing or damaging an expensive children’s Bible. One thing that we do at my church to encourage this, is give all of our 4 years olds a Bible bag as they move from preschool classes to ‘big kid’ classes. It’s a simple canvas tote with an iron-on of our children’s ministry logo and in the bag is a letter to parents explaining why their child, who can’t even read yet, needs to have the Word of God in their hands. The day they receive their bags you can heat the buzz ripple through the building as kids beg their parents to go buy them a Bible and they carry those bags with pride for years.
One vein that should run through all of our children’s ministry programs is a desire to see kids in the Word of God ~ reading it, studying, memorizing it and applying it to their lives. In Psalm 119:9 we read, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word.”The only way our children are going to be able to live according to the Word of God is if they know the Word of God. And, the only way they’re going to know the Word of God is to be surrounded by it – at home, at church and everywhere in between. Charles Spurgeon once said of John Bunyan, “’Why, this man is a living Bible!’ Prick him anywhere—his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God.” My goal in ministry – the reason I teach kids – is to help train disciples of whom this will be said some day.
As I think about teaching kids God’s Word and showing them the importance of the Bible, some of the truths I want them to learn are:
- That God reveals Himself to us in His Word.(Hebrews 1:2)
- That the Word teaches us that Jesus is the only way to have life. (John 20:31 & John 14:6)
- That every word of the 66 books of the Bible was inspired by God and is useful for teaching, correcting, training and rebuking. (2 Timothy 3:16)
- That every word of the Bible is true. (Psalm 119:160)
- and most importantly I pray that time spent in the Bible will show the children of our churches that they are sinners in need of a Savior and that Jesus died on the cross taking the punishment that each of us deserve. (Romans 3:10-12, 23, Romans 6:23 & Romans 5:8)
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help you evaluate how Word focussed you and your ministry are:
- Do you as a teacher teach with an open Bible?
- Do all of the kids in your program have access to a Bible each week (their own or Bible you provide)?
- Assuming children bring their Bibles, do you regularly have them using their Bibles?
- Are children given opportunities to look up and read supplemental texts?
- Are children regularly asked to dig into a text to find it’s meaning for themselves?
- Are questions asked based on the text?
- Are non-readers given opportunities to look up verses (with teacher help) and allowed to handle the Word of God?