by Lydia Kaiser
Children love to hear stories. From bedtime, to bath time, to everything in between, stories entertain and spark imagination. For parents who want to teach kids biblical truths, Bible story books are a great way to keep your child engaged. But it can be hard to talk about what we can learn from the storyline when the child’s interest wanes by the end of it.
Want to help your child enjoy reading the Bible and recognize how God’s Word can apply to their life in an impactful way, without a forceful study lesson? Here are five tips on how to read the Bible with your child, keep them engaged, and teach them important biblical principles, without resorting to preaching at the end of the story.
1. Listen to the Holy Spirit.
First, pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you as you share Bible story time with your child. The standard, most obvious lesson to be learned from a story may not be the one your child needs to hear at this time, so listen for whispers from the Holy Spirit or if He brings anything to mind. Often during story time we forget to pray for it to be impactful, as we just want to tuck the child into bed or move on to the next thing. But no amount of planning how to read the Bible with your child is a substitute for listening to the Holy Spirit! Invite Jesus to take part in every Bible story time and to touch the child’s heart.
2. Make the Bible Story Relevant to Your Child.
Second, keep in mind what your child is currently facing in life and how God can speak to them directly about it. Is there anything God is impressing on your child’s heart before, during, or after the story? Ask them questions frequently as you read Bible stories with your child and highlight any elements that might be relevant to their current thoughts or struggles.
After all, how many times as adults do we open God’s Word and find exactly what we need on a particular day? What has been an experience for you can also be true for your child, so invite them to be open to hearing what God has to say, and continue to discuss things with your child throughout the story. When your child sees God work in their life this way, they’ll begin to look forward to a lifetime of daily personal devotions and hearing from God again through His Word. The best way to help your child enjoy reading the Bible is to make it meaningful to them!
3. Highlight Elements of the Gospel.
Third, look for places in the story where you can include the elements of the key gospel message while reading the Bible with your child. These gospel elements are:
- God’s love;
- Sin which separates us from God’s love;
- Jesus bridging that separation; and
- Our need to respond and decide to follow Him.
For example, by looking at the story of Noah’s ark, we can see that God created people in His image to be and do wonderful things (an example of God’s character and love). The sin of people broke God’s heart and destroyed relationship with Him (the gospel element of sin). Through the ark, God provided one way for humanity to be saved (an allegory to the gospel element of God providing one way for salvation, through Jesus). While it was Noah’s response of obedience that allowed for his salvation (the gospel element of our need to respond to Jesus).
Do you see the gospel picture in that story? It’s in nearly every story in the Bible! Even saved children need to hear the gospel of salvation illustrated in as many ways as possible.
4. Identify Christian Principles in the Story.
If you’re having Bible story time with a saved child, identify in the story at least one Christian principle that they can latch onto as applicable to them throughout daily living. For example, in the story of Noah, you can illustrate God’s continual provision during a time of great difficulty — a truth that can provide comfort if your child is struggling with something. If the children you’re reading to aren’t going through a difficult time, there’s the principle of obedience in Noah’s obedient response to every detail in God’s instruction to build the ark and how, by cooperating with God’s plan, God used him. Or, we can see the principle of trusting God with what seems impossible by looking at how Noah was completely unable to gather the animals himself, so God delivered them to Noah.
Again, make the application during Bible story time with your child, not at the end. If the principle can be illustrated more than once, pause, and ask your child if they see what God just did — challenging them to spot the application on their own. Pausing to discuss Bible stories as you share them also comes with the added bonus of helping you to build a deeper relationship with your child, while helping your child to enjoy reading the Bible!
5. Use CEF® Resources.
From engaging Biblical story books, games, and lessons for kids, to great training on how to draw out gospel elements and discipleship principles in stories, CEF has a wide variety of resources available to help you teach kids about Jesus and make Bible story time interesting.
Visit our online shop, CEF Press®, check out the training offerings at your local CEF chapter and get in touch with your nearest CEF director, or explore our online and campus training by Children’s Ministries Institute®.
I hope this helps you learn how to make Bible story time with your child interesting!