It was one of those Sunday mornings. After a whirlwind week of activity, with a couple of family illnesses thrown into the mix, our crew felt grumpy and exhausted. While the kids bickered over cereal, my husband glanced at me in all my mussy-haired glory and asked the question: “Are we going to church this morning?”
He only asks that question when he already sees the answer in my droopy eyes.
Despite multiple cups of coffee, I couldn’t muster the energy to say, “We should go.” So we didn’t. Instead, we finished breakfast and went our separate ways. An hour later, we were scattered around the house, relaxing in front of various screens.
Only, I never quite relaxed. Because as the morning fog lifted and my heart came back to life, the guilt settled in. We shouldn’t squander the Sabbath, I thought with unease. How am I supposed to teach my kids the Bible if we choose video games over church? Sighing in frustration, I kicked myself for my choice. Once again, I’d failed at living up to my lofty parenting ideals.
MISSING THE TREASURE
I’ve heard the Bible described as a brilliantly cut diamond—each verse reflecting truth in a myriad of ways as we turn and examine it. I’ve experienced this wonder firsthand. Countless times, I’ve seen new details or felt fresh conviction—even in Bible verses I’ve already read dozens of times. Whenever it happens, I’m left in awe, marveling at the beautiful facets of God’s Word.
I long for my children to experience this, too—to meet God’s Spirit in the pages of the Bible and hear God speaking to them through His own Words. I often reflect on Deuteronomy 11:19: “Teach [God’s Word] to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up” (NLT). It’s a challenge I aspire to live out. God has placed my family’s story within a much ‘Bigger Story,’ and I want to have the words of that story stored in our hearts.
All too often, I fall short of these ideals. Somewhere amidst homework hassles, family events, and household chores, the goal of Bible study frequently falls aside like crumbs scattered beneath the table after another hurried meal. We leave the beautiful gem of God’s Word stashed away in a drawer, opting instead for the glitter of screens or the lure of activity.
And then, like that Sunday morning we skipped church, guilt settles into my heart. I know I fall short of God’s hopes for my family, and it fills me with shame and frustration. Thankfully, God doesn’t leave me in this haze of self-criticism. Because again and again, I’ll hear a gentle, quiet whisper cutting through all the noise:
It’s never too late to start again.
Have you let the shiny distractions of everyday life pull your own family from the treasure of God’s Word? Have you floundered and failed at teaching your kids about the Bible? It’s never too late to start again.
The following list offers simple ideas for memorizing and studying the Bible with your family. Don’t feel the need to implement them all; just pick one idea and begin. That’s all it takes to give your family a fresh start in exploring God’s Word.
IDEAS FOR LITTLES (TODDLER / LOWER ELEMENTARY)
Toy Stories | Read a Bible storybook together. Then, gather up toys and/or stuffed animals and retell the story using the items as characters and props. This can be as simple or elaborate as you’d like to make it.
Bible Verse Treasure Hunt | Pick a short Bible passage (e.g. Psalm 1) and write out each verse separately on colored paper. (Number the papers so you can place them in order at the end.) Hide the papers around the house and send the kids on a treasure hunt to find them. When all the pieces are discovered, place them in order and read the passage together as a family.
Rainbow Bible Verses | Pick a verse to memorize. Have your child(ren) write the verse out several times using a different color marker or pencil each time. Use this “Bible Verse Rainbow” paper to review the memory verse at suppertime or bedtime.
Storybook Bibles | Kids love stories, especially when they’re accompanied by imaginative and bright illustrations. Invest in a new children’s Bible with colorful pictures or look for Bible story books at your local library or church.
Sing Along | Bring Scripture into your kids’ lives through music. Search for CDs or playlists that feature Bible verse songs, then cue up the music as you’re driving around town or taking care of household tasks. It’s amazing how quickly kids can memorize a verse when it’s set to music! (A simple search for “Kid Bible Verse Songs” in iTunes, Spotify, or Amazon can get you started.)
Mix It Up | Once your kids can read, try this fun Bible memory game: Select a verse and write it on a piece of paper and then cut out all the words. Read the verse aloud three times. Then mix all the words up on the table and try to piece the verse back together.
Share the Word | Grab some sidewalk chalk and pick a Bible verse to write on your driveway or sidewalk.
IDEAS FOR MIDDLES (ELEMENTARY / MIDDLE SCHOOL)
Lunchbox Notes | Jot a Bible verse on an index card and slip it in your child’s lunchbox for a little midday connection with God’s Word. You can also find many printable Scripture cards online. Try downloading, printing, and cutting out several sets to create a stash of cards that you can keep handy in the kitchen.
Go Digital | You may feel like you’re always trying to pull your kids away from their screens, but what if you put that technology to work helping them memorize God’s Word instead? Do a search for Kids Bible Memory apps, download one to their favorite device, and then offer some bonus screen time when they work on Bible memory!
Disappearing Bible Verses | Jot a Bible verse onto a whiteboard using dry erase markers (or use a window for a fun twist!). Read through the verse together the first time. Then erase three or four words and read it again. Repeat this process until you have the whole verse memorized.
Scripture Writing Journals | Buy a special notebook your child can use for writing Bible verses. For crafty kids, provide a simple notebook and some supplies they can use to decorate the cover. Pick a new Bible verse each week, then have them write it in their Scripture journal once a day.
Imagine the Story | Pick a parable or Bible story to read together. Give each family member a different character to think about as you read: What did that character do or say? How do you think they were feeling? What do you think they learned? After you finish reading, let each family member share insights they learned about their character.
Bookmark Verses | Cut cardstock or construction paper into long rectangles. Write Bible verses on them and decorate with your favorite craft supplies to create bookmarks you can share with family and friends. Take some of the bookmarks to your local library and secretly tuck them into the pages of childrens’ books.
Family Devotions | Find a family devotional book that includes a Bible verse or reading you can do together each day. Try reading it before you start a meal so you can discuss the ideas while you eat. If mealtimes are too hectic in your home, schedule ten minutes into your morning or bedtime routine instead.
Bible Reading Challenge | Sometimes, a little friendly competition is just the motivation your family needs to dive into God’s Word. Pick a book of the Bible (one of the Gospels is a great place to start), and challenge every family member to read it during the next month. Plan a special family celebration for when everyone finishes the goal—but let the one who finishes first pick the celebration activity (e.g. a special ice cream outing or movie night).
IDEAS FOR TEENS
Mirror, Mirror | Jot an encouraging Bible verse on your teenager’s bathroom mirror once a week using a dry erase marker. It’s a small gesture, but one that will start their day with a dose of God’s truth for their heart.
Share a Journal | Between busy schedules and less-than-enthusiastic attitudes about “family time,” it can be a challenge to study the Bible with your teen. Try creating a Bible study journal that you work on together, in your own time. Begin by writing a Bible passage at the top of a blank page. Next, ask your teen to read the passage and then write something about what they learned or a question they might have concerning it. When they return the journal to you, respond to their insights or questions with thoughts and questions of your own.
Ask Them to Lead | Challenge older kids to lead a family Bible study/activity for their younger siblings or encourage them to help with the children’s Bible teaching activities in your church. Step back and watch how God uses them when you let them take the lead.
Pass Down Family Favorites | Write down your favorite Bible verses in a journal or memo book. Invite other family members (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) and family friends to add their own verses. Present this memento to your child for their 13th birthday or another special milestone in their teenage years.
Get Creative | Have a creative teen in your home? Maybe your budding writer could pen a psalm to share on the church Facebook page; your movie-making genius could create a short film retelling a parable in a modern-day setting; your designer could create some beautiful Bible verse images that your church can use as worship backgrounds or social media posts. Challenge your teen to apply their unique gifts to the Bible; you’ll be amazed at their creative ideas!
Youth Groups That Crack a Bible | Silly games, fun excursions, and new adventures can all create wonderful relationship-building moments in a church youth group. Yet, it’s important to help your teen find a church group that balances fun and games with intentional time in the Word. A Bible study with their peers can launch teens on a lifetime journey of exploring God’s Word in community—that’s not something you want them to miss, no matter how trendy or popular a less Bible-focused youth group might be.
Coffee Dates | As your teen matures, hopefully they’ll spend more time studying the Bible on their own. Touch base from time to time by taking them out for coffee (or another treat they love), asking them to share what they’ve learned recently.
A FINAL WORD
Do you know what happened that weary Sunday morning I thought all had been lost? I rounded up our scattered family and we huddled together to watch a short Bible study video. It was nothing particularly creative or profound, and didn’t require any wise or heroic efforts. But guess what?
God showed up.
We had a brief-but-honest conversation about the video, shared a few prayer requests and praises, and prayed together. Both of my kids commented, “This was cool. We should do this again.”
That’s the treasure, friends. It’s not a perfect family Bible study plan or a magic formula for producing faithful Christian kids. It’s just you and me, and a God who shows up to bless even our feeblest efforts. So don’t get lost in guilt or shame, and don’t give up when your best Bible study plans seem to fall flat. It’s never too late to start again.
“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it” (Isaiah 55:10-11, NLT).
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