Do you remember how old you were when you first heard about God and the Bible? Maybe you were like me and were raised in a Christian family, so the stories of the Bible and knowledge of our Creator was ingrained into your being for as long as you can remember. Perhaps you came from a family or culture that never spoke about God and you were a teen or an adult before you learned about His wonderful grace and love. Or, perhaps, today is your very first day hearing about God and this is the first time you have ever heard talk about the Bible, Jesus, or spiritual life; in such case, welcome!
Whatever the case may be, we all know that the way in which we experience the Bible first really shares the way in which we see, respond to, and live by the teachings of God. This understanding can often bring believers to ponder, as they begin to build and establish their families (and especially if they have come to Christ later in their own lives), how they should introduce God and the Bible to their own children. This is a fair question! The Bible is complex... and not just for children, for adults too! The stories within both the Old and New Testaments are meant to teach us how we should live out our faith and deal with a variety of very difficult topics from sexual immorality to murder, homelessness, and tax collection. How do you even begin to teach a child about tax collection?! Not to mention, building an understanding of an all powerful being living among us, unseen but powerful enough to guide us through our most difficult situations... I can feel the anxiety building up inside me already!
I want you to first understand that you are not alone. Having worked with children for over ten years now, I have found that building a young one's faith is one of the most difficult aspects of parenting to approach. There are so many factors that will determine how and when you introducing certain aspects of faith; yet, we are commanded in Proverbs 22:6 to "Direct your children onto the right path,and when they are older, they will not leave it." so today I want to share with you a few ways to introduce and talk to your children about God and the Bible.
First, I want you to consider the age of your child. Whether they are toddlers or teenagers really plays into how you will present the knowledge of God to them and how much you will need to prepare before hand. Younger children will be more easily in agreeance of the idea that there is a God in Heaven who runs the whole world than a teen who will want to understand the science behind Genesis 1 (which I will eventually get a video up about). It is crucial that you prepare mindfully for both conversations. This also goes for any children who are preteens and elementary school age as well. Each age group will have unique needs and although you cannot foresee all of the questions they might pose or may not even have all the answers, it is best to prepare before hand, ask for advice from ministry leaders on things you are unsure about, and always present an unknown with the promise of discovery with your child as a partnership.
Next , it is important to be mindful of the Bible translation you present them with. Although the King James Bible sounds profound and regal, it is difficult to understand for adults at the best of times! There are so many wonderful versions of the Bible that are easy and enjoyable for young readers such as the ESV, NIV, Amplified, and NLT translations (I personally read from the NLT most often)! It is important to not discourage their discovery with lack of understanding. For truly YOUNG children, starting with a fully illustrated Beginner's Bible is perfect for introducing Bible stories in a fun and understandable way!
Finally, start in the Gospels (specifically John) and work your way through the rest of the Bible. This may seem counter-intuitive. After all, as Christians, we believer both the Old and New Testaments are equally inspired by God and important to our spiritual understandings, but here's the thing: the Old Testament is a case our need of salvation and the New Testament describes our salvation and how we live in light of this. There is no way to truly understand the beginning if we don't understand our friend Jesus; so, start with Him and the rest will fall into place.
The most important thing to remember when introducing your children to the Bible and to God is that you want them to ultimately know that God exists, God loves them, and we are saved because of such amazing love, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. If we can get this far, we can lean on God to help us with the rest, and He will!