3 Ways to Reverse the Course of Bible Illiteracy among Children

Last week, I wrote on Bible Illiteracy – the very real problem, the call to this generation of Christians to reverse the course, and God’s invitation to me to join Him in this work.

What has weighed on my heart ever since reading Dr. Al Mohler’s article, The Scandal of Biblical Ignorance, is not the article’s content, however – but one mom’s response to it:

“Yes and I agree wholeheartedly! But as a mother of 4 girls, do you have a specific book to guide us? You list the problem but no solution or list of resources. I went to a private christian school, my parents were missionaries and yes, I saw them both in the Word daily. I too, am in the Word but I find it hard to get my girls into it and we do superficial devotions.”

Up to the point of reading this comment, my focus in this work of “reversing the course” had been adults.  This mama, however, raises a crucial point, “What about our children?”

It is this point that I have been mulling over all week:

  • Bible Illiteracy – having or demonstrating very little or no knowledge of the Bible.
  • Bible Illiteracy occurs through (1) not reading the Bible, (2) surface reading of the Bible with little to know understanding of what one has read.
  • In my adult-focused thinking, I understand that many adults do not know how to dig into the Bible, engaging with it, on their own. They often rely on hearing sermons preached by their pastors, listening to podcasts, attending formal Bible Studies where the material is presented by someone else, or surface reading.  None of which are bad things.  The critical piece is that many do not know how to read their Bible – for themselves – for understanding.
  • The same is true for many of our children who often rely on Sunday School lessons taught by their teachers, watching videos, attending Bible Clubs, or a quick, surface reading.
  • Teaching our children about God’s Word early in life is important. But teaching them to read it for understanding, to engage with it; that is paramount. That skill will provide a firm foundation and instill wisdom in them for the years ahead.
  • [tweetthis]There really is a difference between reading the Bible and engaging with the Bible.[/tweetthis]
  • Children can study the Bible.
  • Bible Studies for children do exist, and there is nothing wrong with a good topical study from time to time. However, being able to study the Bible on one’s own is critical for forming a solid foundation and understanding of the Word of God.

How can we “reverse the course” of Bible Illiteracy for our children?

  1. Help our children discover some study methods that fit their personality. (I will be sharing a few of these in my June posts as I work with the students at my church.)
  2. Provide them with materials:
  • Bible Study Baskets
  • A journal (Journals provide a great place for children to record their thoughts, reflections, insights, and questions as they dig into God’s Word.)
  • Ready-to-fill-in templates (Templates are wonderful tools. They can be used as “training wheels” for a child who is not quite ready to work in a journal or for children who are overwhelmed by the blank page of a journal.)
  1. Encourage them and give them the space to learn:
  • Study with them (Print out two copies of the template, one for each of you. Buy two journals.  Work together on the same passage.)
  • Do not criticize or offer unsolicited suggestions (Yes, by all means, talk with your child about the passage and the correct theology. However, as far as the artwork or layout is concerned, offer grace not advice!)

What a gift – to help children learn that spending time with God can take many forms, can be enjoyable!

[tweetthis]Children can learn to study the Bible for themselves[/tweetthis].  They can learn to read the Bible for content and meaning – reversing the course.

2 comments on “3 Ways to Reverse the Course of Bible Illiteracy among Children

  1. Oh, how wonderful. Not so many years as an adult in my 50’s, a friend of mine was teaching in the pulpit one night (she and her husband co-pastored a small church) about God not being a respecter of persons. I had been severely sexually abused as a child and then had all the control from the perpetrator and it was still continuing from a long distance as I was so used to it that I didn’t even realize that what was happening. I was so defeated that I thought that meant that God did not respect me. I take words very literally. I was shocked. I had always attended churches that taught that God was a loving and not punishing. So, that news went totally against what I had been taught. I was more defeated. Even though she was a good friend, I was embarrassed to ask her to explain that scripture to me. I had never had anyone to sit down and really study scripture with me. I thought my first husband was a Christian and he probably went to church with me between 5 and 10 times in the 23 1/2 years we were married. My second husband was a Christian and went to church with me most of the time. He is now deceased and I miss the closeness of a Christian helpmate. I have a ten year old grandson living with me this summer and I’d love to get him starting to study his Bible. His mother doesn’t even help him with his homework through the year. His dad and my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter live with me, too. I don’t think it’s ever too young to start. Thank you for the post.

Comments are closed.