Find out WHY it’s critical to teach your kids to THINK about Scripture,
plus use this simple acronym to help them do it.
Mary didn’t ride a donkey to Bethlehem.
There, I said it. Don’t throw tomatoes. Give me a chance to explain.
I know you’ve seen the Christmas pageant 1000 times and yes, I know Mary always rides a donkey. I mean how else could a pregnant woman (nearly in labor) go so far to be taxed?
So how did she get there? Go read Luke 2 and Matthew 1 again. Look for it. (Go ahead and do it now, I’ll wait.)
Shocked? You won’t find any mention of the donkey. It’s just not there. It doesn’t say anything about exactly how she got there. If that’s not bad enough, if we were to study the history of that time period, we’d learn that it would have been a disgrace for Mary to ride on a donkey. It’s VERY unlikely she would have done such a thing.
I hope you will forgive me for ruining everything you’ve ever known about the Christmas story. Trust me, when I found out, I was just as appalled. How could people do this to us? Well, I’d contend that we did it to ourselves. Well, mostly. Let me explain.
I teach 6th grade on Wednesday nights at a pretty conservative church. Most of the kids who attend my class have spent the last 11+ years of their life in church three times a week. They have memorized countless verses and participated in probably hundreds of church-life events.
The sad thing is, when we study a passage and I ask questions, many of these kids can’t think about Scripture at all. They state the facts, some of which are just popular facts and not actually what you’d see if you read the details.
You see, often when you grow up in church, you hear stories over and over again until you get to the point where you assume what you will read and gloss over the details.
This kind of familiarity can cause Christians to start assuming they know what the Bible says and then simply STOP thinking. And that is the last thing on earth we want for our kids if we have any hope of helping them stand firm in faith.
We’ve got a long way to go to help kids overcome this, but it starts with making sure kids read the Bible themselves. If they are old enough to read, stop reading it for them! Get your child a Bible. (I recommend one here.)
Have them read small chunks at a time, but I can’t stress enough that your children should be reading the actual Bible (not a story book or paraphrase) by themselves!
The next step is to teach our kids not to assume, but to check the details, think through the possibilities, and seek answers.
When it comes to Scripture, teach your kids to think deeper, question details, and consider how it applies. This not only clarifies details, it helps them discern false teaching.
Teach them to question you, teachers, preachers, and everything they read. We want them to dig deeper and find the truth! Yes, you might be wrong sometimes; admit it and move on. If you don’t admit that you aren’t perfect, your kids will still know you aren’t, but they will just think you are a liar or a fake. (<— Ouch, don’t let that happen.)
3 Questions to Help Your Kids THINK about Scripture
I teach kids to ask themselves WHY they are reading a passage. WHY is an acronym to help them remember three questions to ask themselves. Who is God? How is this new to me? Yet, what will I do?
1. Who is God?
This is the MOST important question. I grew up believing that the Bible is the rule book. In one sense, that’s true. But reducing the Bible to a rule book robs Christians of its most significant purpose: to show us who God really is.
Don’t get me wrong, I do love rules. But if God was only about the rules, He would have skipped everything else. Think about it. What was the very FIRST thing God wanted us to know about Himself? (Hint: Read Genesis 1.)
God wanted us to see that He is good. The entire opening chapter of the Bible is focused on His goodness. Not His rules for us. Yes, there are rules. But if God only wanted us to have rules, He would have stopped at the Old Testament, right?
The Bible is how we come to know WHO God is. His Word shows us His character. We need the rules, but that shouldn’t be our main focus for reading the Bible.
Teach your kids to look at every passage FIRST to see what they can learn about WHO GOD IS!
2. How is this new to me?
This second question serves two purposes. One, it causes us to stop and think about what we might have learned about this passage before that was incorrect.
Every time you are tempted to rush through something you’ve read before, remind yourself of Mary and the donkey. We don’t want to fall for that again!
The second reason to ask yourself this question is to see if there is something new that God wants you to learn. No matter how often you read a passage, there is always something new to see!
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of the soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
As we grow and change in Christ, we see His Word in different ways. Life changes us, situations teach us, and God’s Word meets us right where we are.
3. Yet, what will I do?
After you’ve asked the first two questions, and ONLY after, the next step is to ask how the passage impacts you. It might sound something like this, “Now that I’ve learned ______________ about God, how should I respond?”
We are really good at teaching kids to read and memorize Scripture, but we often skip the application of it. Not every verse is written for us to change something specific in our lives, but every passage should be met with a response of some kind.
Perhaps our response is thanksgiving, perhaps repentance, or perhaps we see a new way to think about something. Whatever it is, we should think about this before we move on.
It’s great to read and memorize Scripture, but if it doesn’t change us, we are CRAZY. For real, that’s exactly what the Bible says:
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.
I quote this verse to my kids often. Hearing the Word but not doing it, not letting it change you, is CRAZY! Just like a man who looks in the mirror and then forgets what he looks like. Let’s not be crazy!
What you can do to help your kids
The fact that you read this post makes you an amazing parent. You are doing your best and giving it your all. Don’t take that lightly! But you should know that training children is a difficult job. It takes consistency, faithfulness, and even righteousness that we don’t possess on our own. You’ll need to rely on God to help!
Don’t get discouraged if your kids aren’t ready and willing to ask these questions when they study the Bible on their own. As they begin to understand why independent Bible study and quiet time is important, they will learn. In the meantime, use these questions as a family.
What we model for our kids makes a lasting impact!
- If you’d like help teaching your kids to have a quiet time, check out this free course.
- If you’d like to get started laying a foundation of faith, you’ll love this Bible study.
- Find more apologetics for kids here.
Through practical tools & Bible-based resources, Kim Sorgius is dedicated to helping your family GROW in faith so you can be Not Consumed by life’s struggles. Author of popular kid’s devotional Bible studies and practical homeschooling tools, Kim has a master’s degree in education and curriculum design coupled with over 2 decades of experience working with kids and teens. Above all, her most treasured job is mother and homeschool teacher of four amazing kiddos.