We all want our kids to delight in God’s Word, but it can be hard to make that happen when our kids are little. Many days, they spend devotions squirming in their seats, bickering, or daydreaming. When they are paying attention, they can often be confused or miss the point entirely.
Hope for Orphans believes that the power of the gospel can change kids’ hearts and lives, but what does it look like to communicate that huge truth in ways that kids can understand? How do we make family devotions a time of discussion and excitement rather than a chore?
In the 7th session of Rooted, Dr. Jeremy Lelek, president of Metroplex Counseling and president of the Association of Biblical Counselors, teaches parents about helping their kids learn and love the Bible. Here are some of his practical suggestions for helping your kids delight in God’s Word this year:
- Keep it short
Let’s face it: most young kids have the attention span of a caffeinated chipmunk. Your kids will lose focus during a thirty-minute devotional, and your sweet time in God’s word can quickly be eclipsed by a parenting battle.
It’s okay to work with your kid’s attention span instead of fighting it. Five or ten minutes reading God’s word and talking about it can still communicate the gospel to your kids.
- Use concrete language
Young kids struggle to understand abstract concepts; their brains simply haven’t developed enough for abstract discussions of justification or God’s sovereignty. But that doesn’t mean you can’t talk about big truths.
One way to do this is through the Bible’s stories and imagery. God has filled much of the Bible with vivid stories of his actions on earth—stories that communicate these truths just as deeply but in a way that young kids can grasp. And other parts of the Bible are rich with metaphors, imagery, or examples that can help your kids understand God’s love, power, and wisdom.
While kids’ abstract reasoning is still developing, their vivid imaginations are a strength here. Talking about “putting on Christ’s righteousness” like putting on your clothes in the morning is a lot more helpful to young kids than describing imputed righteousness and justification.
- Ask your kids questions
Invite your kids’ responses to what they are reading. Asking simple questions keeps them thinking about the Bible and helps you to see how their hearts are receiving God’s truth.
You could start with questions like what something means, what they find difficult in the passage, or simply what they like in the passage. Another classic approach is to ask them what the passage tells them about God and what it tells them about themselves or their lives.
- Talk about how the passage connects to your kids’ lives.
Your kids need to know how to think biblically about their joys: hobbies, sports, friends, culture. Talk about how these things can pull us away from our ultimate duty to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. But also talk about how we can connect these things to the goodness and kindness of God, enjoying God through these good gifts.
Your kids also need to know how to think biblically about their struggles. Many adopted and foster kids will struggle with the powerful effects of abandonment, neglect, or abuse. Integrating the gospel into realities of their life will introduce them to a more powerful Savior, who never abuse them, who will never abandon them, and who will never reject them.
Ultimately, we need God’s help for our kids to love and be transformed by God’s word. Ask God to open your eyes and your kids’ eyes to His truth. Ask Him to give you wisdom and perception to know how to help your kids. Ask Him to soften the hearts of your family to care about what He cares about. He delights to answer prayers like these.