I had the privilege of teaching today at our church’s Moms of Teens class. We talked about how kids transition from the beliefs they’re given as children to forming their own personal convictions.
The news most moms of teens don’t want to hear is that the way to get to those convictions is to question and doubt all you’ve been raised with. In fact, you often temporarily reject or at least scrutinize those beliefs. If you don’t, you probably will have a very superficial faith–one that won’t stand up in times of hardship down the road.
You want your children to know and love God–but that season of questioning and doubt can be hard. But if we trust that God loves us and our kids, we have to trust that he’ll guide them through that season.
One mom emailed in a question about her young teens that I wanted to address here since we didn’t talk about it in class.
She wrote: “My 13 and 14 year old girls are Christians and have been recently baptized. If they could get in the habit of reading scripture on a daily basis, that could be such a huge anchor to keep them grounded in the Lord, as they will grow more and more independent (& at college too). What’s the best way to encourage that? (I do try to read daily, as well.)”
This mom definitely realizes an important truth, which we talked about at class today: you can’t give away what you don’t have. If you’re not reading the Bible, don’t expect your kids to learn that habit.
Daily Scripture reading is a great practice that will indeed strengthen our faith and help us to know God better. But getting kids (or adults, for that matter!) to do it is not easy.
However, technology is on your side in this one. There are lots of free aps for smartphones that have the Bible so that they can read the Bible on their phone. They can also find aps that have short devotionals or even comic book versions of Bible stories.
Another great tool is the goTandem.com website. You can sign up for texts, emails or pre-recorded calls at a specific time of day. Each gives you a daily verse, along with a short devotional. I had this on my phone for a while, and it was great fun interrupting conversations when my phone rang–“excuse me, I need to take this call–it’s God.” The calls offered a short devotional, the texts usually just gave you a verse–but it’s an easy way to get a bit of Scripture into your day.
Another great idea–not high tech at all–is to read together. I know it was hard for us to sit down for family devotions, but if you make it part of your family dinner time (I know that’s a big assumption–that you have family meals–but maybe that’s the place to start!) it can be a time when you at least let them hear some wisdom from God’s word.
Read a short devotional at the dinner table, or just a Psalm. The Message or New Living versions are easy to understand, and just reading a verse or two can be a great starting point for conversations about faith. The key to this is to keep it short and sweet, and ask kids what they think, rather than lecturing them.
What do you think? How do you get your kids to read the Bible?