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In last week’s blog post, I shared about tackling difficult Bible passages.
Newsflash: If you don’t think there are any “difficult” passages in the Bible, you probably haven’t read much of it.
You only need to flip a few pages into Genesis, skim through the book of Revelation, or start reading one of the Old Testament prophets to find images, words and historical events that are challenging. Needless to say, there are many parts of the Bible that aren’t necessarily ‘kid-friendly.’
Need some examples?
Take the famous story of David and Bathsheba – which your kids may know from the Veggie Tales rendition, where King George steals a much-loved rubber duckie. This light-hearted tale touches on a much more serious story – where David steals another man’s wife, gets her pregnant, and then has her husband killed in battle so he can marry her & cover up his sinful behaviour.
That’s a fun Bible bedtime story right?
Let’s peek into another piece of Scripture – in the New Testament. Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount, instructs listeners to pluck out their eye if it causes them to sin.
Not exactly what I want my enthusiastic, very literal two year old to hear (or attempt to practice) during family devotions.
So, where do we go from here?
How do we teach our kids that the Bible is God’s inspired, eternal Word, without opening a can of worms every time we dive in?
I think there are three important strategies we can use here.
1. Acknowledge what is age-appropriate.
I believe it is important to teach our kids the entire Bible truthfully, while also being age-appropriate. That looks different in every life stage.
Right now, with a toddler at home, we’ve chosen to stick to Bible storybooks that are faithful and truthful to the Bible’s text, without going into every gory detail. Sure, there are stories and passages Levi won’t be familiar with yet, but I think that’s okay.
As your kids grow, I believe you can introduce them to the less “kid-friendly” parts of the Bible in age-appropriate increments. If you want to tackle the story of David and Bathsheba, for example, explain to your kids that David took another person’s wife! Read to them from the Scriptures, while perhaps skipping over some of the ‘gory’ details. As your kids grow into older elementary and preteens, unpack the whole story with them. Read it together, and process it with them.
I don’t believe we need to “filter” the Bible for our kids, but I also believe we can journey with them in a way that gives them the information they need to be true to the biblical text, without overwhelming them.
2. Allow them to ask questions, and point them to helpful resources.
Some parts of the Bible that may be “kid-friendly” will still present questions for our kids. The reality is this – the Bible wasn’t written with 21st-century kids in mind. The reading level, language and format isn’t like any other book your kids will be reading.
Beyond the difficult passages, your kids will have questions about what certain words mean, what events were being referred to, or even something as simple as when did this actually happen. Letting them know that asking questions is okay is so important for a healthy faith and understanding of the Bible. Pointing them in the right direction when they have questions, instead of allowing them to wonder in silence, will allow your kids to have a vibrant faith that grows.
There are a lot of great resources that can help you unpack the Bible with kids! Here are some of my favourites:
- International Children’s Bible Dictionary: I love this tool, and I think every family & kids’ ministry should have one! Like any other dictionary, kids can look up words, places and names – but these are specific to the Bible! Kids can see pictures, and read kid-friendly explanations of those hard-to-pronounce names, Old Testament places, and way more. Give one of these to your older elementary kids as they read the Bible and watch them soar!
- Know Your Bible for Kids: I love this whole series. The “Know Your Bible” gives kids an introduction to the context, author and key events in every Biblical book in language that they can understand! I also love the Where is That? and Who is That?
- What’s in the Bible? for Kids: I love this series! The DVDS are great, but their quick YouTube videos, website, and family devotionals are amazing. They take big biblical concepts & break them down so kids will understand them and remember them. Seriously, it’s like seminary for kids. This one on the Trinity is one of my favourites.
- The Bible Project: I recommended this in my post for adults, but their video introductions to various concepts and books of the Bible are great for kids who are deep thinkers or preteens. Seriously, they break down the Bible in an amazing way.
3. Keep the main thing in focus.
Ultimately, the Bible isn’t a book of disjointed stories, random facts or good teaching. It is the story of God’s love for humanity. Each book and story points us to the fact God created a perfect world, but humans sinned and fell away. We see story after story that shows us the drastic effects this sin has had on the world – and God’s work in constantly redeeming his people. The New Testament points to Jesus – the Redeemer, and the One who made right, and is still making right, all things. Ultimately, we are pointed to a day when God will make all things right, and set up His Kingdom for eternity.
When we read the Bible with our kids, we need to use this filter. We need to remind ourselves that the stories we read are not simply moral lessons. They are not simply something to fill a gap in our routine – but each word, each page, is teaching us something important about God, and His powerful, redeeming story.
So, even in the not-so-kid-friendly parts, ask your kids “What does this story teach us about sin? About God? About His plan to save us?” Keep the big picture in focus as you read together.
While unpacking the Bible with our kids can be difficult, I believe it is worthwhile. Learning how to navigate this incredible book in all its parts is a gift we need to give our children – so let’s do it together, and do it well.
Looking for a great Bible for your kids? I share a list in this blog post.
Looking for ways to better teach the Bible to your kids? Check out this fun, online conference I’m going to be a part of on September 27! Plus, it’s all free! You won’t want to miss it.