Listen, we parents have to stick together. If I can give you some ways to study Scripture and teach the Bible so you look like you know what you’re talking about, that’s what I’m going to do! The good news is that with a few simple strategies, you can lead your child through any Bible verse, passage, or story–and get something out of it every time. And since you’re dealing with the Bible, guess what? You’re going to learn every time, too. Let’s get started.
(This post contains a few affiliate links. As always, these are products I would recommend regardless, and it costs you nothing extra if you order through the link.)
This may seem like a lot of steps, but keep in mind, they are pretty short. And depending on what you’re studying, the steps won’t always take the same amount of time. They flex with what you’re reading.
What you need:
- A Bible (If your child is very young, you can use a good children’s Bible, or even something like The Jesus Storybook Bible or The Big Picture Story Bible)
- A Bible dictionary, or have BibleStudyTools.com pulled up (Please don’t just Google your Bible questions! The internet is chock full of sketchy “information.” Be careful with your Bible study tools.) If you want to invest in a Bible dictionary, here’s a good paperback one for $9, and here’s the hardcover one I have and love:
I’m going to use Acts 2:1-4 (NASB) as an example, so you can see what we’re doing here while we study Scripture.
1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
1. Read the text all the way through, at least twice.
Don’t skim, even if you’ve read it a million times. Typically, when we’re sure we know a passage, we don’t really even hear it anymore. Don’t fall into that trap. Maybe try reading it in another translation. Pay attention to every word. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve studied a very familiar passage, only to see something I’d never noticed before. It’s thrilling!
If your child is old enough to read (even slowly), let him do at least one of the readings. There’s a learning difference between hearing and reading, so if you can hit both buttons, do it.
2. Ask really simple questions about what the text says.
When I say simple, I mean simple! Ask questions that have obvious answers right there in the text. Look for what we call the 5Ws and an H: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Don’t worry about talking about what the passage means, or even what certain words mean. Not yet.
Some examples from our Acts text:
What day was it? Pentecost
Were the people together, or spread out? together
How did the noise come? suddenly
Where did the noise come from? heaven
How is the noise described? Like a what? like a violent rushing wind
Then what appeared? tongues of fire
What were the people filled with? Holy Spirit
What did the people begin to do? speak with other tongues
By the time you’ve read it at least twice and answered these questions, you really know what the passage says, backward and forward.
3. Define terms, and reread
Okay, now it’s time to look at words you or your child may not understand. It’s important not to just use a regular dictionary. A Bible dictionary (or BibleStudyTools.com) is going to tell you what words mean in a biblical context, based on translations from the original languages. You’ll also get more context.
In our Acts passage, you’ll definitely want to check out what tongues means. (It means languages.) Knowing that is going to make the passage make a whole lot more sense!
You may also want to find out basically what Pentecost was. This will be in your Bible dictionary, too. Keeping it simple, you’ll find out it was an important Jewish celebration. Older children may be more curious and want to know more.
Keep in mind that you’re relying on information from your Bible dictionary. You don’t have to already know anything!
Once you know what all the words mean, go back and read the passage aloud again. Do you see it opening up?
4. Have Your Child Summarize
Now, have your child summarize it to you. It’s important to stick to what the text says, and if he uses exact wording, that’s very okay! But no embellishing or adding anything.
Open it up for discussion. If you hit a wall, here are some starters:
What’s your reaction?
Can you relate to anyone/anything?
Does this remind you of anything else in Scripture? In your life?
How do you think differently about it from when we read it the first time?
What can we take from this that can help us know God better? Ourselves better?
How could this change something about the way we live?
If you were going to make this into a short movie, how would you do it? Who would you cast?
What would be a good theme song for this passage?
6. How Does This Change Us?
If you didn’t already cover application in your discussion, do it now. If we stop short of letting Scripture change us, we’ve missed the point.
Application is where knowledge becomes wisdom.
Sometimes, application is obvious, but sometimes it isn’t. And sometimes the application is just that we’ve learned more of God’s Word, and seen something else about Him. That’s okay! For example, reading all the specifics on building and furnishing the temple? Not so applicable. But it does show how God is very specific about certain things, and we obey Him, whether we fully understand it or not. The people built the temple exactly as God instructed (like Noah and the ark), and in the end, God sent His Spirit to fill it.
Knowing God better is always worth it; it doesn’t always have to be about me.
In our Acts passage, application comes from seeing what the Holy Spirit can do through people. It’s the same Spirit that resides in us when we become followers of Jesus Christ, so let’s be aware of that, and learn to be sensitive to the leading of that mighty Spirit. The people in the passages didn’t try to hold back from speaking other languages, even though that must have been really weird for them. But they let the Spirit do its work through them.
7. Pray, and Wrap Up!
That’s it. You’ve walked through studying a passage of Scripture, even if you knew nothing going in.
You can follow these steps every single time, and they’ll become second nature. AND when you do this repeatedly with your child…bonus! It will become second nature for them, too. You’re not just equipping yourself to study and learn Scripture, you’re putting tools in their hands that will take them throughout their lives. That’s exciting!
Here’s a condensed cheat sheet to print off right now for easy reference:
Challenge: Choose one of these passages, and try this out with your child(ren) this week. If this kind of thing is new for you, it’s going to be bumpy. That’s okay! You’re still making great use of your time, right? And it will get easier the more you do it.
John 1:1-5 (To find out who the Word is, go down to verse 14–it’s Jesus.)
1 Samuel 17:40-50 (“He” is David.)
I’d love to hear how it went, so come back and fill me in!