My Thoughts on Teaching Religion & Bible Study — Years of Experience in Just One Page

This is the first subject we start with everyday. The boys are familiar with most of the bible stories from Genesis and the main ones from the New Testament. There are many they haven’t learned though, so we are going through Hurlburt’s Story of the Bible right now, reading a few pages each day after devotions. Prayer, devotions and a hymn are first, then we go into the bible stories. My Aunt is a real music lover and was kind enough to put together a collection of gospel hymns for us to sing in the mornings. We try a new song each week. The boys were a little nervous about singing together at first, but with a some perseverance they got over it. For devotions we are using Keys for Kids, which they will mail to you free, or you can print it off of their website. They accept donations and so if you can afford it then donate what you can.

When we complete Hurlburt’s Bible Stories, I hope to focus fon Pilgrim’s Progress, then the Life of Christ, and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. That should get me through the next 3 years. Then I’ll see what the boys are able to handle before I determine where to go next. When they are able, I’d like to see them read some of the Christian Classics that I’ve enjoyed like Augustine’s Confessions, , Kempis’s Imitation of Christ, Brother Lawrence’s Practice of the Presence of God, and Spurgeon’s All of Grace. It’s important to me that Bible study be spent together as a family so whichever book we choose, we will be reading it aloud and discussing it together after devotions. When the boys are a little older I intend to use Spurgeon’s Morning & Evening Devotions. The evening devotions we’ll do together at night when we have family bible-reading and bedtime prayers.

If I still had very young children I would start with simple prayer, allowing each child to say their own prayer in addition to Mom’s, and an easy to understand collection of Bible stories, like The Wonder Book of Bible Stories. Longer stories can be read over a few days if necessary, to keep the time short. When my boys grew older and learned to read I introduced formal devotions (like Keys for Kids). I also chose a complete book of bible stories and had them help with the reading. Fifty-Two Story Talks to Boys and Girls looks interesting to me. If the boys were a little younger and I finished all of the bible stories before they were old enough to move onto Pilgrim’s Progress then I would try it out, or perhaps A Puritan Catechism by Charles Spurgeon. I studied Luther’s Catechism as a girl and I think there is some value to catechisms if the lessons are kept short and the information is not allowed to become dry.

I think the primary thing all children should learn is the Bible Stories. Even for adults who are unfamiliar with the bible, this is a great place to start. Other Christian books are wonderful to read and to study, but until one is familiar with the foundational bible stories, the other books don’t make much sense and are not very interesting. You could read all of your bible stories directly from the bible, but I find that children better enjoy well-written bible stories with mortal authors. When they are old enough to read the bible themselves, they can read their old favorites and gain new insight.

After becoming familiar with all of the main bible stories, Pilgrim’s Progress is the next big step. It is a Christian Classic and will give them help on their journey through life. An easy to read version called The Pilgrim’s Progess in Words of One Syllable is available for younger children if desired.

The next classic, Fox’s Book of Martyrs, is best for children who are a little older, perhaps 12 or 14 years old and up. The material is a bit mature because martyrs do a lot of dying. Parents should use their discretion to determine its suitability for their children. I believe it is one of those classics that every Christian should read. There was a time in our land when the only books most people owned were the King James Bible, Fox’s Book of Martyrs and Pilgrim’s Progress. These three books held great influence over the men and women who created our country’s history, and they remain excellent resources for both children and adults.

When children reach the age where they want to seek out and study the Word themselves, it is vital that they be provided with a serious study bible. I won’t try to recommend one, but I will say that they are not cheap. Bonded Leather, or Genuine Leather bindings will last for many years so if you are going to invest in one, you might as well make sure it is a good one.

Until my boys are ready for their own study bible, I have provided them each with a plain, large print King James Bible. I taught them how to use the table of contents, the concordance in the back and how to look up bible verses. I encourage them to copy memory verses into a notebook, so they can keep track of the ones they have mastered. They also copy bible verses as part of their Penmanship practice.

Memorizing Bible verses is easy if you repeat them often and write them out several times. If your family encourages and values memorization, then it will become easy for your children to memorize verses. To start, just pick out an old favorite and have every one look it up in their bible. Then have them copy it into a notebook and recite it to themselves over and over again. Have a child practice the same verse until he or she masters it and then go on to another one. If they have to memorize scriptures for Sunday School this is a great way to do it. When they are proficient at memorizing short verses, have them commit the 10 commandments to memory, and then the 23rd Psalm, the Lord’s Prayer, the Beatitudes and any other portion of scripture that seems a good candidate for memorizing.

Finally, we make sure to go to church. Praising and learning about God in a public setting can really help to bring home the importance of God in our lives. Going to church was hard for me when the children were small because I didn’t fully understand the importance of it. Luckily God knew how important it was and burned my butt, till I got the boys to church. Now the boys beg me to go to church and if I want to play hookey on Sunday, they drag me out of bed and insist that we attend both Sunday School and Church, whether I like it or not.