As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the most impressive things about visiting Mars Hill Church in Seattle was the sermon study guide—which provided helps for both community group leaders and parents. The “family worship” section of the guide includes a great article entitled “Family Dinner Bible Studies.” In this section, he provides twelve steps for studying the Bible with your family around the table. Here they are… The following is adapted from “Family Dinner Bible Studies” by Mark Driscoll in Trial: 8 Witnesses from 1 & 2 Peter, a study guide. (Mars Hill Church, 2009), pages 69-70.
Step 1. Eat dinner with your entire family regularly. Step 2. Mom and Dad sit next to one another to lead the family discussion. Step 3. Open the meal by asking if there is anyone or anything to pray for. Step 4. Someone opens in prayer and covers any requests. This task should be rotated among family members so that different people take turns learning to pray aloud. Step 5. Start eating and discuss how everyone’s day went. Step 6. Have a Bible in front of the parents in a translation that is age-appropriate for the kids’ reading level. Have someone (parent or child) open the Bible, and assign a portion to read aloud while everyone is eating and listening. Step 7. Parents should note key words and themes in the passage and explain them to the kids on an age-appropriate level. Step 8. Ask questions about the passage. You may want to begin with having your children summarize what was read—retelling the story or passage outline. Then, ask the following questions: What does this passage teach us about God? What does it say about us or about how God sees us? What does it teach us about our relationships with others? Step 9. Let the conversation happen naturally, listen carefully to the kids, let them answer the questions, and fill in whatever they miss or lovingly and gently correct whatever they get wrong so as to help them. Step 10. If the Scriptures convict you of sin, repent as you need to your family, and share appropriately honest parts of your life story so the kids can see Jesus’ work in your life and your need for him too. This demonstrates gospel humility to them. Step 11. At the end of dinner, ask the kids if they have any questions for you. Step 12. If you miss a night, or if conversation gets off track, or if your family occasionally just wants to talk about something else, don’t stress—it’s inevitable.
For your children, the point is to learn what they are thinking about God, to help them know and love Jesus as God and Savior, and to teach them how to articulate and explain their Christian faith. For parents, the point is to lovingly instruct children and each other—thereby creating a family culture in which every member freely and naturally talks about God and prays to him together. In short, the goal is simply that your family would open the Bible and grow in love for Jesus, one another, your church, and the world.
Finally, remember that family Bible study requires a sense of humor, so make sure to have some fun, enjoy some laughs, and build some memories. Discussing the Scriptures is a wonderful way to see into the heart of your children, and to reveal your heart for them and Jesus’ heart for you all.”
Later this week: On Wednesday, I will begin posting a four-part a summary of Mark Driscoll’s article, “Pastoral Parenting”