As Believers who are also husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, it is incredibly important that Family Bible Study become a staple in our homes. It is a discipline worth cultivating. The book of Deuteronomy tells us that Bible Study should occur in the home and family more than anywhere else! It is our duty, responsibility, and privilege as parents.
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
We are to keep God and His Word before our children at every turn in life. Every moment is an opportunity to share the truths of Scripture and the character of God in our homes. Not in a legalistic, dogmatic sense, but rather in a grace-filled way so that our children grow up understanding that there is a holy, powerful God who is also a God of grace and love.
Solomon’s faith was passed on to him by his father, David (Proverbs 4). Timothy’s faith was passed on to him from his grandmother, Lois, and mother, Eunice (2 Timothy 1). There are many other examples of this in Scripture as well. We also have the incredible privilege of discipling the young, tender hearts that God has placed in our care.
I read a quote just the other day that said, “If we do not teach our children how to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to.”
You may be saying, “I’ve never done Family Bible Study in my home.” “How do I start?” “What if I fail?” But remember this: your relationship with God is worth it! Your marriage is worth it! Your kids are worth it!Most often, the hardest part is simply getting started.
Here are a few tips, encouragements and reminders to help you get started (or started again):
1. Get Started
You don’t have to be a Bible scholar and/or know all the answers. Set a goal if you are just now starting a family Bible study (maybe start with 4 days a week). Simply put, just get started. It may be awkward at first, but that is really ok.
Pick a book of the Bible to start reading through together as a family. Choose a translation that is easy to understand (NKJV, NIV, ESV, NLT, CEV). You may even want to use more than one translation. If your children are young, I would suggest using something like The Big Picture Story Bible (David Helm) or The Jesus Storybook Bible (Sally Lloyd-Jones).
2. Be Consistent
Make it a priority in your home! Do it often! Strive to do it daily. Scripture is something that can be taught even when we are not gathered around the kitchen table or in the living room. Look for ways to teach Scripture and talk about God’s Word with your family outside of the home as well. Consistency is powerful! With consistency comes retention and habits.
Think about this idea for a second. We consistently eat, sleep, go to work and our kids consistently go to school. We are consistently engaged in enjoyable habits/pastimes (sports, music, painting, fishing, etc). Those things that we do on a consistent basis are usually things that are necessary and important. Usually they are things that we either must do or enjoy doing. Relate that same idea to Family Bible Study. It is necessary for the Christian home. It is important in the Christian home. And it can be very enjoyable in the Christian home.
3. Don’t Give Guilt/Shame a Foothold
If you miss a day, or two, or even a week, don’t get discouraged. Don’t quit due to guilt and shame. Start again! Maybe in your own home, Family Bible Study is something that you used to do, but you haven’t in a while. Maybe the shame of not studying the Bible as a family is holding you back from jumping back in to it. I know it sounds kind of ironic, but sometimes the guilt of not doing Family Bible Study can actually prevent us from doing Family Bible Study. This is not about checking off a Christian To-Do list. Remember, this is about growing in the “grace and knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 3:18).
Know this: we are going to “not get it right” sometimes…maybe even a lot. But God gives grace so as not to be stuck in our sin, but to move forward in freedom and forgiveness from sin. So when you fall down, let God pick you up in His forgiveness and grace and continue moving forward (1 John 1:9).
4. Be Flexible
Determine what times work best for your family. Times may vary on different days. Different families have different schedules. Maybe a Family Bible Study works best for your family in the morning before everyone rushes off for the day. Maybe it works best after dinner in your home. Maybe, the schedule looks different on different days of the week. But, figure out what works best for your family and make it happen.
5. Mix It Up
Some days you may want to read from Psalms or Proverbs while other days you read from a New Testament book or an Old Testament book. Also, make prayer a regular part of your reading and study time. On Sundays, maybe you want to use the pastor’s sermon for your family devotion – read through the Scripture and discuss the sermon.
6. Keep a Family Notebook/Journal
Keep a notebook so that you can write down what you discuss. Let each person take turns writing things down from day to day. This is also a great way to track what God is teaching you and your family as you spend time in His Word together.
7. Be Determined
Set your mind that YOU will be the one who disciples your kids. Pray that God will give you the conviction that discipleship WILL happen in your home. You will not rely on anyone else to be the primary discipler of your child.
This isn’t an affront to anyone else teaching your children about the things of God (Sunday school teachers, pastors, small group leaders, other trusted adults or mentors). However, it is the determination that, even if there are others involved in the discipleship process of your children—and if there are, that is a great thing—you will be the primary discipler in your child’s life.
8. Pray and Let God Do His Work
Pray often and trust God to teach you and show you Himself. Leave your heart and mind open to the things of God and watch as He changes you and your family through the richness of His Word.
The great thing about reading God’s Word together as a family is that you don’t have to have all the answers! As we pray together as a family and read the Bible together, we give time and space for the Holy Spirit to teach us His Word. Who knows, He may just show us where we have a wrong belief about something in God’s Word or about God’s Character. We do not have to approach the Bible with all the answers… in fact, if we do (of if we think we do), we do not allow the Holy Spirit room to work in our lives.
James tells us, as we are coming to God’s Word, to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger…” (James 1:19). In other words, as you lead the study, come with a humble, teachable spirit that may even require us to make some adjustments as we are confronted with God’s Word.
9. Hang in There
Sometimes, the devotions will be difficult and almost forced. Maybe the kids are not into it. Maybe you aren’t (defer to #2). Or the whole family is not into it! Remember this in those time: be encouraged… you did it. And tomorrow is a new day!
10. Make Much of Jesus
It’s all about Him. Point to Him EVERY chance you get in Family Bible Study. Jesus is all throughout the Scriptures… His character, His purpose, His love, His sacrifice, His grace, His truth, His compassion, His holiness, His righteousness, His authority… “In ALL THINGS, Christ is preeminent (Colossians 1:18).”
So there you have it. This is certainly not an exhaustive list. What other tips, encouragements and reminders would you add? Is Family Bible Study something in which your family is actively engaged? If not, I hope you will consider it… and then jump into it. You will never regret it!
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I get understanding, therefore I hate every false way.
Psalm 119:103, 104