A Step By Step Guide to Leading A Family Bible Study
I used to think my kids were too young to memorize scripture verses. And then they started quoting movies like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory word for word. So there goes that theory!
Even still, finding ways to get scripture off the pages of the Bible and into their little minds proved to be a bit harder than I anticipated. That’s when I decided to give Sally Clarkson’s 24 Family Ways devotional a try.
We’ve been reading this devotional together every weekday morning at the kitchen table for the last four weeks. And guess what I’ve discovered?!
- My kids are HUNGRY for the Word.
- My kids are absorbing scripture.
- They are memorizing scripture (which was our whole reason for starting this study in the first place).
- They are connecting the dots when it comes to godly character.
- They are eager to learn!
4 weeks. That’s all it took to instill a desire for the Word of God in my kids. This is their favorite part of the day. They ASK to read the Bible with me. They bring it up in discussion throughout the day. They preach to each other in their bedroom. The other day I caught my oldest (7) reading the Bible to his brothers. He had the youngest on his lap and his other brother sitting next to him eyes intent on Genesis 1, the creation story.
A Walk Through A Day of Our 24 Family Ways
When I say this devotion has made a difference in my kid’s lives, I am not exaggerating. Not only is it teaching them how to become rooted in the Word and hid the Word in their hearts, it’s allowed me to set the Bible as the foundation for our beliefs and way of living. Together we are learning to use its words, teachings, and principles (in partnership with Holy Spirit) to become the compass for our lives. My goal today is to give you an idea of HOW this devotional works; to present to you the framework so that you too can share in the joy of raising kids who love Jesus and love the Bible.
For us it starts in the kitchen. So many of our special moments take place there. The four boys and I gather around the table. The youngest is usually in my arms while the other three occupy their own seat. In front of them is set a small plate of snacks; fruit, bagels, toast, or nuts. I do this for no reason other than that their little tummies are awful grumbly in the early morning hours and there is nothing worse than trying to teach a hangry crowd of toddlers. At the center of the table is my Bible and our devotional guide.
If we are doing an afternoon Bible lesson, instead of yummy breakfast snacks I’ll print out coloring pages either from Pinterest or from the 24 Family Ways Coloring book and allow the boys to color while they listen . This helps keep them calm and quiet so and allows their minds to better engage in the lesson and stories. Once everyone is settled in we open the Our 24 Family Ways Devotional and dig into that weeks “Learning the Way” main page.
Learning the Way
By the time you have finished this devotional as a family you will have worked through 24 different family values. You’ll have addressed topics concerning authorities, relationships, possession, work, attitudes, and choices.
Each of these family values is introduced through a Learning the Way page. This page is meant to help guide whoever is leading the devotional. It includes:
- the family way for the week.
- the character trait the family way is aimed to cultivate.
- a few sentences addressing why that character trait so important.
- the Bible memory verse each family way is rooted in.
- a short story
- a notes section (because I am working through this book with youngsters we aren’t actively using the notes section, but parents and youth may find it helpful to jot down notes as they learn or teach).
We use this page daily. I typically start off the lesson by stating the family way and having my children repeat it after me. I’ll move on to the character trait and the few short sentences about why that character trait matters.
Next I’ll introduce the memory verse, reading it aloud once to them, having them repeat it after me, and then saying it again together. There is one memory verse per week and we commit to memorizing each one. We read, write, and talk about the verse often to help the verse and it’s principle stick.
We typically start a new family way each Monday. So on Monday’s I’ll incorporate the “Story Starter” but I don’t use them every day. I’ve learned that simple and sweet goes a long way with young ones. On occasion I will share the story with them again towards the end of the week, but it’s not super necessary.
All in all this take about 5 minutes. From there we move onto the ARTS outline.
Using A.R.T.S. To Walk Your Children Through the Bible
A. Asking a question.
The ARTS is intended to be used five days a week (Monday through Friday). It begins with two to three questions. This is probably my favorite part of the lessons. It’s the coolest thing to see the wheels turning as my little guys think through the questions work up their own answers. It’s a great way to create healthy conversations. Most days they’ll come up with answers by themselves; other days I’ll offer them prompts to help them work through the questions. This leads us right into the Bible reading for the day.
R. Read the Bible
When discipling children (or anybody) it is SO important to make sure that what we are teaching aligns with the Words of the Bible. I have a high appreciation for this section of the A.R.T.S. Because it teaches kids that when we have questions we can turn to the Bible to find answers.
In this part of the lesson we will read specific verses chosen to help kids find answer the previous questions with the Bible as their guide. It also makes searching and reading the Bible a normal part of their every day, cultivating a spiritual discipline that many today are lacking.
T. Talk About It
Once we read through the recommended verses we talk about it using the prompts and questions outlined in the book. I tend to do some free teaching during this section also; going off script from time to time. I’m a teacher at heart so I love to take bullet points and expand on them, sometimes sharing some of my own stories.
There are about 2-3 discussion questions following the scripture reading. Some days this takes as little as 5 minutes. Some days we take more time. It honestly depends on the topic and how willing my kids are to sit and engage.
S. Speak to God
This is how we wrap up our lessons. In the “Speak to God” section are prayer points that correspond with the day’s lesson. I like to read through these prayer points with my kids before we pray. I use it as an opportunity to teach them about unity in prayer and praying in agreement with each other and with the Bible.
Once we’ve talked through the prayer points and everyone is on the same page, I’ll the family in prayer. They are welcome to add on to the prayer and as they get older, I plan to have them take turns facilitating the prayers and eventually the teachings. With the call of discipleship being so prominent in our walks with God (see Matthew 28:19-20) its important to me that they know how to teach and talk about Jesus.
Helping the Lesson Stick
I’ve talked to many moms just aren’t sure about doing Bible lessons at home. They worry that they might not cover all the bases or that the lessons might not stick. If that’s you I want to encourage you to give it a try anyway, despite your doubts. The mind of a child is incredible. They are able to soak up more information than we give them credit for. But even if they don’t pick it all up now – they are picking up bits and pieces; little seeds of truth are being planted in their little souls. That’s the first step! From that point on all you need to do is nurture the seeds. Here are a few ways we do that at home:
- Conversation. We talk about the lesson often. Maybe not bullet point to bullet point, but if a situation presents an opportunity for us to tie the lesson to real life, we take it.
- Story telling. A good story will stick with kids much longer than a lecture will. We try to find stories that reinforce the character traits we are learning. Right now the tool we use for this is The Child’s Book of Character Building. It included short stories (about 2 minutes each) that help kids tie the character trait to various scenarios at home, school, church, and in play. I have also had my eyes on The Children’s Book of Virtues but I have yet to purchase that one.
- Scripture Writing. This is part of our scripture memory routine. A few mornings a week we sit down together with our $1.99 composition books from Amazon and write out our memory verse for the week. The writing approach is great because it reinforces the scripture in four different ways; engaging the eyes, ears, and mouth, and hands. We right the Word, see the Word, speak the Word, and hear the Word.
And there we have it! A look into Our 24 Family Ways and the A.R.T.S. Method of studying the Bible. I’ve tried a lot of things when it comes to getting my young kids engaged in the Bible. Of everything I’ve tried, this is by far the best tool we have used. It’s not just surface area Bible stories, it’s a solid heart shaping and mind renewing study tool that is works and is approachable for kids of all ages. Still have questions? No problem! Drop them in the comments and I’ll answer them as I see them. Ready to give it a go?! Get your copy of Our 24 Family Ways now!
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