A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about being frustrated at my family’s lack of scripture in our lives. I want to thank everyone who left supportive comments and helpful suggestions on things to try. The McKenney Family Bible Study began two weeks ago on Sunday, September 4, with our second meeting on September 11. Here’s what happened.
When the post came out two weeks ago, I told Kaia that we were starting this Bible study, and that it was mandatory. She glared at me quite fiercely, and rolled her eyes ever-so-slightly – but said nothing. So far, so good.
On Saturday, I asked if anyone wanted to volunteer to choose the reading and lead the Bible study. They at least met my eye, but all said “You go first.” So, I used the lectionary for Sunday and choose the reading from Jeremiah. Kaia loves to make pottery, so I thought, “No-brainer. She’ll definitely want to talk about this.” Watch out for those no-brainers…
I proceeded to read the scripture, with special attention to this portion:
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.
Kaia: “That’s not how it works.”
Me: “Not how what works?”
Kaia: “Making pottery. You don’t remake a pot after you’ve messed up; you throw that clay into the reclaim pile.”
Me: “The reclaim pile?”
Kaia: “Yeah, where people put scraps and clay they’ve messed up on the wheel.”
Me: “Oh. Well, let’s suppose the clay is different in this place, and all these years ago. They didn’t have all of this other stuff in the air and in the ground, so maybe that clay could be reused.”
Kaia: “Mhmm, maybe, but I doubt it. The pottery will be messed up if it’s too overworked.” Okay, good point. I took one more shot.
Me: “Well, can you see this as a metaphor, then? What do you think God is trying to say?”
The discussion ended up lasting twenty-one minutes, six minutes past our minimum time of fifteen minutes. I was pretty pleased with the participation from Kaia. Jaiya, my thirteen-year-old, has no problem discussing scripture, which is great, because Kaia will not be out-discussed. Our first Bible study was a success.
This past Sunday was a crazier day. Kaia procrastinated doing her homework, so that when the 9pm Bible study time came around, I faced Sunday Night Football and a homework crisis. Undaunted, I reminded the group about our fifteen minute Bible study. Perhaps I emphasized the word fifteen. At ten, we gathered in our bedroom for the reading. Three of us sat on the bed. One lay on the floor. Can you guess who?
I asked if anyone else wanted to select a reading. Everyone looked at me like, are you kidding? So I used the lectionary and read from Exodus.
The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.” Wow! Everyone looked mildly shocked at this. I read on:
But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, `It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, `I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'” And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.
Me: “What do you think about that reading?”
Jaiya: “Wow, I can’t believe God was going to mess everybody up like that.”
Me: “Pretty crazy, right? How do you think God was going to do it?” I re-read the consumed line. We did a little vocabulary work with that word, and deduced that it could be fire. As the conversation progressed, Kaia slowly ascended from the floor and climbed onto the bed. Then Jaiya said, “I can’t believe that Moses convinced God not to destroy God’s people. I mean, he was really persuasive.”
I had to try to stay cool. Inside, I cheered! Success!!! I couldn’t have been more thrilled with the conversation. We talked about Moses’ transformation from the beginning of Exodus to when we meet him here in Chapter 34. This Bible study lasted twenty-six minutes.
Overall, I’m glad I forced the Bible onto our family. I believe we will be blessed for our commitment to studying God’s word. We plan to continue our McKenney Family Bible Study every Sunday evening for a minimum of fifteen minutes. Perhaps that minimum will change to thirty minutes – we’ll see. As the weeks go on, we’ll try new methods for reading and conversing, including the ones shared by contributors here. Both weeks, I sent an invitation to our college senior, Nia. Just after we finished the conversation this past Sunday, she texted “Am I too late?” This week, we’ll make sure she can call in.
Thanks to all of you who are praying for us. I’m praying for you, too. I’ll keep you posted!
Have you tried a family Bible study? How did it go? What suggestions do you have for families who want to start a Bible study?
I appreciate how real this is. Thank you for admitting to the eye rolls and the imperfect conversations (like the potter one not starting as you had hoped). I’m prayerfully considering starting something like this with my teens.
Thank you Miriam, for sharing and for showing us a very doable step-by-step way we can do this in our families! This is how we “grow” together as the Body of Christ.
Matt, I hear you – it’s hard to know what kids will accept. I was a librarian and school librarian for many years, so I have the trial and error experience with kids and adults, and am willing to keep trying and not give up until something works. I had the benefit of Scott Gunn starting a weekly Bible study at our leadership meetings, which is the model I use with the girls. Choosing scripture that is thought-provoking and leads to lots of questions, even ones for which we don’t find answers, is helpful. The Sunday lectionary is generally rich with great choices, and I’ve taken those readings and found The Message translation and talked about the similarities and differences. Teaching Godly Play to them and their friends at church gives us some background for having these conversations, too. Thanks for your prayers; I’m praying for success for you and your family!
Matt Rhodes says
I’ve read your two posts several times, looking for ways that I (as a current seminarian) can try and get our two daughters more engaged. The challenge is to keep what little interest they are expressing at this point in watching my growth and participating with me at my Field Ed. site (something I blogged about on this page a few months ago) without overdoing it. The parameters you’ve set here are very doable and I will definitely talk to my wife about giving this a shot. Continuing prayers to you and your family as you go forth with this wonderful discipline!
CAROLYN MARKSON says
So very pleased for you and yours, each is engaging and benefiting!! I wish I’d been better prepared when my kids were at that age, but sadly, I missed that possibility. Now, they roll their eyes at me regarding my Church Lady business, but occasionally join me, what a blessing!!!
What a blessing, indeed! A little eye-rolling means you’re doing well, in my opinion. At least they’re paying attention. I did miss out on my oldest daughter, who is 21, but I’m trying to feel like it’s not too late for her, either.
Love it! And also feeling lonely here by myself.
We will have to change that! Kelli, you are a valued member of our family and we will find a way to bring you in to this wild mess. The girls need you!
Nancy Robinson says
Thanks for sharing. It warmed my heart to read this. It’s a wonderful commitment you’ve made to your family and I pray you will find much fulfilment as you and your daughters continue to read and wrestle with God’s Word.
Carol Bolsover says
Yeah! That all sounds so wonderful and encouraging!
Thanks Carol! We’re getting there.
Thanks so much, Nancy! I appreciate your encouragement.