Why Read the Bible to Little Kids?

Why Read the Bible to Little Kids?

family bibleYou’ve heard a lot about the importance of family devotions.  You’ve probably even made a few attempts at starting them in your own home.  However, they just seemed to crash and burn because of babies crying, toddlers circling the room in their underwear or sibling rivalry ramping up the minute you open the Bible. In a frustrated huff, the Bible is closed and people scattered their own way.  What is the point? Is it really necessary?

All parents seeking to be faithful have asked these questions at one point or another.  Be encouraged, it is worth it! I would like to offer several reasons why it is not just good—but imperative—to read the Bible to your younger children.

1. Nowhere does God’s command to parents to train up their children have an age limit. Check out the most quoted passages, Deut. 6:4-9, Psalm 78:1-10, Psalm 127:3-5, and Ephesians 6:1-4 and you will not see an age limit. In fact, you find just the opposite! The little ones were included where the Word is being ministered (Neh. 8:1, Acts 2:14-41). In other passages where the church is meeting in homes, it would push the edge of reason to conclude that the littlest among them were not present, hearing the word (Acts 2:42, 46, Col. 4:15, Philemon 1:2).

2. God’s word is powerful. God’s own word is what God promises to bless (Isa. 55:11, 1 Cor. 2:5, Heb. 4:12). If God’s word is strong enough to create out of nothing (Gen. 1), then it is strong  enough to work in the hearts of the youngest among us. God’s ways are higher than our ways  (Isa. 55:8). You do not know how the Holy Spirit is using the passages you read to supernaturally  work in your young child’s heart.

3. What are you trying to get them to understand? Is it to amass Bible facts? Or is it to come to know God? Little kids understand basic concepts such as love; good and evil. Any passage you  read will feature either information about man’s sin, or information about God’s grace, both of  which give the opportunity to talk about those basic truths on the simplest levels. They can come to know God in a way that is on their level if you are reading to them with that intention of making those simple things clear. It is possible to do that and also explain the deeper things to the older kids.

4. There is far more to be gained from reading the Bible to your youngest children than merely amassing facts. Consider these additional benefits:

a. They learn that reading the Bible is valuable and are more likely to continue the practice as they grow older.

b. Reading the Bible teaches them that their father and/or mother are their spiritual leaders.

c. They learn to sit still and listen…so that they can stay in the worship service or small group meeting.

5. Finally, and perhaps most important of all—reading the word is one way of showing that you love the Lord. Is reading the Bible something that YOU enjoy? Reading the Bible—seeing Jesus through the gospel—is a critical part of how we grow in our love for Jesus. Including the youngest children in a regularly scheduled family Bible reading time is one way for them to grow up watching you demonstrate your love for God through a passionate pursuit of His Word.

It is hard to fool kids. We can say what we want. But what they believe will likely be the result of what they see us do. Our example is incredibly powerful—one way or another.

As one final word of encouragement, please consider again, Isaiah 55:11, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

God’s redemptive purposes are not thwarted by our parental inhibitions, imperfections and the craziness that is often family Bible time. God’s word is itself powerful. Through his Spirit, He will do his work. We just need to be his willing instruments.

Called to Someone… Everyday

Funny businesswoman with stress isolated. High angle view fish eye like image of stressed young woman in suit, Isolated on white background.

“The Primary purpose of the church, before mission, before healing, before transforming the culture; the first purpose of the church is to give a ravishing vision of who Jesus Christ is and let him draw people to himself. But we are not presenting Jesus Christ, we are presenting mission, or we are presenting transformation, we’re presenting healthy marriage or healthy family. And so, people come for reasons other than Jesus himself…Until we get the Gospel right, we shouldn’t be surprised that young people are walking away…Before we are called to something, before we are called to somewhere, we are called to someone.”

-Skye Jethani, Senior Editor, Leadership Journal

Yes, we need to be called to Jesus; not once, but every day! Whether or not Jethani meant that exactly, I don’t know.  But what does it really mean? let me offer an example.

I had a conversation with one of my children the other day. This child was dealing with an idol of control which evidenced itself in angry, frustrated, fearful behavior. It took 45 minutes of relationship-required conversation to get to the nub of the issue: she needed to see that her happiness in life was not tied to her ability to control a certain situation she was facing. She did not need therapy. She did not need to be at the church building on Wednesday evening at 7:00 pm.

She needed the person of Jesus.

She needed to see that her happiness in life was not tied to her ability to manipulate events to the end of her own liking. She needed to discard the wrong, idolatrous belief that she could achieve happiness by controlling the situation. Rather, she needed to see that even if the situation did not go the way she wanted it to, she could still be happy (i.e. satisfied)–and obey the Lord– simply because Jesus is.

Because she is “in Him” (Col. 3:13); because he himself is her life (John 14:6), because in his presence she can experience pleasures forever (Ps. 16:11) she could in fact be happy and did not need to control the situation. This was my message to her…and she took it to heart.

Our need every day is to see Jesus in all of his glory. We need to become intimately familiar with who we already are in him; and we need to intentionally dwell (2 Cor. 3:18) on Him. By dwelling on Him, we are better-equipped to expose and defeat the idolatrous lies of the Devil. We are also motivated to greater obedience; obedience which glorifies God because it is obedience that is done out of joy in God first and foremost, not duty, or an attempt to gain brownie points with God.

I suggest that this is how we must understand being called to “Someone”. It is a calling that we are to intentionally remind ourselves of every day, and not just once.

Four Ways Small Group is a Catalyst for Relationship Building

Four Ways Small Group is a Catalyst for Relationship Building

small groupDo you have a small group ministry?

If you have small groups, great! Consider the following points as a way to evaluate and perhaps improve their effectiveness.

If you do not have small groups, please consider the following 4 ways that small groups foster relationships.
1. Small groups help build relationships by connecting people who would not otherwise connect. 

The church is God’s household. It is made up of people at different stages of life including nuclear families, singles, youth, children, and seniors. Effective small groups reflect this diversity and provide a natural way for all of these gifts, needs, abilities and interests to connect for mutual benefit. Without small groups (especially in churches with a fair number of individually-focused programs) these connections would scarcely be made.

2. Small groups provide a natural way for elders to equip household leaders.

God’s ministry blueprint puts a significant emphasis on the leadership of elders and heads of household. Small group ministry provides a natural context for elders to establish relationships with the heads of household for the purpose of equipping, encouragement, and accountability for leadership in his home.

3. Small groups provide a way for the elders to ensure that each person is being cared for.

With all of the individualized activities taking place it’s easy to assume that everyone is connected and being nurtured. But this often leaves us with a false sense of security. Something bad happens with a particular person. Yes, he was involved in programs, but apparently out of relationship and thus on his own. Tragically, people in this situation just slip through the cracks. Small group ministry provides a way to faithfully oversee the entire body. For regular discipleship and when a person is facing a challenge, everyone, most especially the other leaders, know which elder is responsible for helping the person or being sure that the person is getting the help they need.

4. Small groups increase full participation.

Small groups should not be just another program on the ministry buffet that people can take or leave. Given their purpose, participation should be expected by everyone. On this point, Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer PCA in New York City once said, “Small groups are not a program of the church. They are the church (emphasis added).” Keller understands what’s at stake: real transformation in the life of the believer to the glory of God. This requires relationships. There is no way around it. Note: when the culture of the church prizes and emphasizes relationships like we see in the Bible, participation becomes a natural decision.