As a member of the Forward Movement team, I want to share our excitement about our upcoming project called the Good Book Club. We put out a call to The Episcopal Church to read the books of Luke and Acts together through Lent and Easter, and we got an overwhelming response from individuals and from organizations like UTO, Forma, add more.
You may wonder if your kids are too young to read the Bible, let alone with others. I want to share why it’s important to engage your children and teens in reading the Bible in community.
Although we were very active in church, my family did not read the Bible together. My Episcopal priest dad read the Bible frequently. My mom had a daily spiritual practice that included Bible reading, and she was a Bible study leader. But I can’t remember them actively encouraging me to read the Bible. The result? I didn’t read the Bible until my late 40s.
In the beginning of my life as a parent, I wasn’t attending church regularly. My parents took our girls to church until we found our church home fifteen years ago. After that, I began teaching Godly Play and shared the Bible with my girls that way. Mom bought us several different children’s Bibles, and we read them together. So the seed to read the Bible was planted, but it wasn’t until I started reading the Bible with my coworkers at Forward Movement that the importance of scripture engagement in community sunk in.
Reading Exodus with my youth group at Calvary Episcopal Church as a youth minister opened my eyes even wider to the reality of deep conversation with the kids to whom I taught Godly play. A particularly memorable discussion began a couple of weeks ago when we read chapters seven and eight.
Me: Does anyone remember hearing about sorcerers in the story in Godly Play?
M: No. All I remember is the plagues, and I really didn’t remember all of those, or how gross they were.
Me: Any particular one you think is worse than the others?
M: Hmmm. The blood was pretty bad.
J: That’s true. They had nothing to drink.
M: Yeah, it said that every vessel containing water was turned into blood, so they had nothing. How long could they last?
J: it says they dug along the Nile, so that must have worked.
The conversation went on, with the consensus that blood was the worst.
A: Wait. What’s going on with these sorcerers?
Me: What do you mean?
A: The pharaoh’s magicians and sorcerers. Why are they in the story?
Me: Hmmm. Anyone have any idea?
They shared their ideas while I Googled some information about the sorcerers. (I’m a librarian.) I shared some theories with them, and we talked about which ones made the most sense. I can’t adequately express what it was like to hear them talk about why God would want to compete with these Egyptian magicians. The feeling stayed with me for days after. Reading scripture with others transforms you.
Witnessing the power of the Word working through these kids inspires me to keep coming back to scripture each week. I’ll be honest: at first, I felt guilty bringing out the bibles every week. I was sure they were inwardly rolling their eyes. Maybe they were. But now, the kids go and get the Bibles from the shelf before I can pass them out. Or, when I move toward the stack of Bibles, they lean forward and reach out to receive them.
God’s story is rich with adventure, love, deceit, and every situation and emotion imaginable. My kids are hooked. My theory about reading the Bible with kids: they’re never too young to be challenged, and they’re never too old to wonder. I pray you will join us as we embark on a great adventure through Luke and Acts. All you need to join the Good Book Club is a Bible, but we have lots of resources to help you along the way.
Join the Journey – the Word will not disappoint.
Do you read the Bible with others?
How do you engage with scripture with your children and family?
Leslea Lehoucq says
Hi Miriam. I just decided to embark on reading Exodus with our middle school class because of the Exodus theme: we moved the youth from their youth room, replaced them with preschoolers in that room, and now we’re discerning where to go! So I have my “Ark of the Covenant” box that contains all our Bibles and we’re trying to decide on a room or other place to meet (in the grass out front? in the labyrinth? somewhere else?). I feel like I’m trying to sell a bad product (i.e. that they were moved), but have become excited about what can be gained from the study of Exodus and how they can see parallels in their life.
So my question is this: did you use any commentaries or outside references for reading and studying with the group? Simply reading and discussing the Bible seems clearly the most simple, and your Godly Play/Montessori style background does lead to more wondering than answering, which I think is good with this age group–and all ages. I just want to tread lightly on the fine line between my interpretation and God’s intent. Thoughts?