Children Desiring God Pre-Conference, Session 2,A Bible-Saturated Generation: Immersing Our Children in the Word of God
David and Sally Michael
This is the most personally convicting session of the conference for me so far. I am thankful for this vision of the Bible alone as our authority. The challenge comes after similar challenges from Bryan Chapell, Daniel Montgomery, and Rob Plummer in recent weeks. One Rob Plummer quote from Sojourn's Men's Retreat at the top of mine and David Kidd's thoughts as we listened to this message:
We must not skating on the top of God’s Word like we're in an ice rink, but rather soak in the Word of God like soaking in a hot tub!—Rob Plummer
Now, here are the notes:
How do you raise a generation that is Bible saturated?
(1) Use the Bible in Bible Teaching… Isaiah 55:10-11
Sometimes the audio-visual explosion of methods for teaching the Bible can pull us away from actually open the book. We should encourage our kids to bring their Bibles and use them. If we are serious about teaching the next generation being biblical, then we should give some consideration to the place that our Bible—the book itself—should have prominence in our homes and our classrooms. Are we teaching the Bible to our children, or are we just teaching lessons? Are we teaching them to use their Bibles? Are they biblically literate? Can they find truth in their Bibles? We wrongly assume that using the Bible is too difficult. When we challenge our children to use the Bible, our children will rise to the challenge.
- Encourage children to bring their Bibles to church.
- Encourage Scripture memory. Give rewards for putting the Bible on your heart.
- Teach the children to treat the book with respect.
- Put the Bible in your lap as you are teaching. Read at least small portions (even to preschoolers). As they become older, have them read. Ask them difficult questions about the text.
(2) Teach the Whole Counsel of God
- Children need to be exposed to a wide variety of Bibles stories. We often repeat Bible stories to the exclusion of certain parts of the Scripture. Acquaint children with us much as they can absorb. We should not continue to give them the same shallow teachings. When we limit the Scriptures to which our children are exposed, we limit their understanding of God. When God is shown to be unchanging in so many different stories, we see that God is himself unchanging.
- Children need to see all aspects of the character of God so they worship the one true God. When acquainted with large sections of the Bible, children will see the God of the Bible as who he is.
- Children need a wide breadth of theological understanding. When we avoid the breadth of the Bible, children have an insufficient understanding of God and who he is.
(3) Give a Chronological Bible Foundation
The Bible is one continuous story. Children need to hear the grand story and how the individual stories fit into this grand story. The miracle stories will be seen as unlike fables when they are placed into the grand yet everyday life scheme of the whole Bible. When the whole story is seen, God is seen as the great constant in all of history. Then, it is easier to understand how things fit together—how to see the beginning of a matter and the end of a matter. Children need a chronological foundation into which to plug their other topical stories. Then, everything else can be seen in light of the big picture.
(4) Teach True Doctrine
In the midst of a faith crisis, a failure in doctrine is often revealed. It seems better to establish our children on a solid foundation of truth so that they will be able to stand when such storms come. We want to give them a biblically accurate picture of who God is. In a crisis, our children will turn to a God who is sufficient in his strength—not one who simply “needs helpers.” Weak doctrine leads to weak faith.
(5) Inspire Children to Memorize the Bible
What is learned in childhood is kept for a lifetime. One of the most spiritually influential things in a child’s life is what is memorized in childhood. It is best if this is a church wide program… because adults need the Scriptures too. When we began a Bible memory emphasis in our church, we began to see adults and children praying the Scriptures. When we are impressing memorization on our kids, it is important that they see our parents do this as well. It is encouraging to our kids when they see that this is not merely something to regurgitate for a lesson but something that applies to their life.
(6) Use the Word in Everyday Life
The Words of Life can be used to inspire children to trust in God in the midst of the difficulties and fears of life. If you want your children to think biblically, then we must think biblically. We must put these words in our hearts and apply them to our lives as well.
Three Common Objections:
(1) Children can’t sit and listen to a half-hour Bible lesson. It is too much to ask children to study the Bible. Children will rise to a high level of expectation.
(2) Many of the truths of the Bible are too difficult for children. But children are not colored against the truth of Scripture. We teach about hell to children. They need to know the plight before they can recognize the rescue. Many of our adults are learning along with their children. You can explain difficult stories in a pre-school appropriate way
(3) Sunday school should be fun. Children learn by doing—they need to play games and do activities. Otherwise, they will be bored. Children must be active listeners. We must engage them. But we should not assume that Bible is boring. The Bible is not boring! God is not boring!
What is the goal of all this Bible teaching?
To lead children to see their sin, repent, and turn to the living God. When we are teaching the Bible, we can’t assume the Gospel. “We must not allow marginal matters to become central, because, in a generation, that marginal thing will become the central thing.” –D. A. Carson The gospel must always be central.