Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How to help your kids treasure God's Word

One of the things that's a bit frustrating about preaching is that I always have more to say than time to say it. My friend and former boss Mark Bates refers to this as leaving material on the cutting-room floor. Every Sunday there's at least another 10 minutes worth of sermon that I wish I had time to deliver. Perhaps we should all move to Africa where Christians don't check their watches during the sermon.

Anyway, last Sunday my sermon was about how to study the Bible. My text was the familiar story in Luke 10:38-42 about Mary sitting at Jesus' feet and listening to his words. I used this sermon as an opportunity to teach a method of Bible study often referred to as the inductive method.

What I wanted to add, but didn't have time, was that parents play a critical role in helping their kids develop a love for the Scriptures. The five steps of Bible study that I outlined in my sermon could easily be applied in the context of family devotions. Fathers (or mothers, in the case of single moms) should get the family together in the evening, read a passage of Scripture, and ask one or more of the questions that I cited during my sermon. This way, rather than making the kids sit still and listen as Dad shares what he thinks the passage is saying, the whole family embarks on an adventure of discovery. Another benefit of doing this is that the kids learn a method of Bible study they can use on their own.

One of my regrets is that I did not do this kind of thing enough when my children were little. We had family devotions, but I did not read through books of the Bible, asking thoughtful questions and initiating family Bible study. So if you are a parent of young children, learn from my mistake. Seize the opportunity to build Bible reading into your family's daily routine. If your kids are involved in a regular discipline of family Bible study, they will carry that habit into adulthood and be well equipped to face the challenges of life.


Matthaeus Flexibilis said...

Hi, Mike. I couldn't figure out how to leave a comment on your other blog about five steps for studying the Bible, but I wanted to mention this blog post by Doug Estes called "Why Is the Bible Hard to Understand?"

In answer to the titular question, I particularly like the comment quoting John Frame, and I'll reproduce it here.

"[T]his question is a specific part of a larger question, namely, why didn’t God choose to give each individual an exhaustive, immediate, and perfect understanding of his revelation? Certainly he could have done this, overcoming the limitations of our finitude and sin. And we may understand, if not condone, the complaint that the lack of such revelation makes the Christian life more difficult. Had God given us immediate revelation of this type, we would not need to teach one another or to make long journeys to foreign countries to preach the gospel. The whole apparatus of biblical and theological scholarship need never have been created. But somehow, for his own reasons, God determined that hearing, understanding, and growing in his word would not be that easy. He determined that we would have to do some hard thinking at times, that some scholarship would be helpful.

"Perhaps a large part of God’s rationale was that he intended our growth in knowledge to be a communal affair, not merely individual: fathers and mothers would teach their children; pastors would teach their congregations; scholars would teach the pastors. Our knowledge of God would be a public enterprise, not merely private.

"To put this in biblical terms, this is to say that our knowledge of God is covenantal. It is the knowledge of a family, a nation, set apart to God. This covenant community is governed by written texts, as the US is governed by a written constitution. But ascertaining the meaning of those texts is a communal venture."

Mike said...

Awesome. Thanks Matt.