Engaging Scripture as a Family

« Faith Practices Project: Engaging Scripture

If you grew up with the practice of “family devotions,” you might have memories of a parent reading a long portion of the Bible or a devotional book and praying a long prayer. While hearing God’s Word as a family is important, some traditional methods of “doing devotions” together aren’t the most kid friendly. Here are some ideas on how to engage your kids’ heads, hearts, and hands with Scripture.

Ask “wondering questions”

Open-ended questions that can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no” tap into kids’ curiosity and creativity. Here are some examples of wondering questions:

  • What do you wonder about this story?
  • I wonder why the people in the story acted as they did?
  • I wonder what you would do if you were the main character in this story?
  • I wonder what God is saying to us in this story?

Also check out 5 Ways to Wonder with Kids by Karen Deboer.

Retell Bible stories together

Kids love repetition, and it helps them learn new things! Reading and then retelling Bible stories together is fun, and it’s a very effective memory device.

Bible resources to explore

  • When words and pictures combine, it’s a powerful mix! Check out this list of favorite Bible story books and picture books from the Faith Formation Ministries team.
  • The New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) Bible, written at a 3rd-grade reading level, presents God’s Word in simplified language. The NIrV Adventure Bible is especially good for early readers.
  • For older kids and teens, The Story traces the narrative arc of Scripture. Condensed into 31 chapters with selections from the New International Version, this book can be used effectively for ongoing family devotional times. Read it together from cover to cover!
  • TheBibleProject offers trustworthy, top-quality animated video intros to every book of the Bible. Just note that some videos might be a bit intense for the youngest members of your family.

Devotional resources that engage Scripture

  • God’s Big Story cards, by Karen Deboer and Carol Reinsma, is a set of 165 cards that offer easy, interactive, and fun ways to form faith as you learn about God’s story together. After selecting a card, read the Bible story aloud and then choose one of six ways to explore the story together: Retell, Wonder, Praise, Pray, Share, Respond.
  • Everyday Family Faith, by Sandy Swartzentruber, is a pocket-sized daily faith practice guide that helps families explore the practices of Scripture engagement, prayer, and faith conversations, along with family activities to do.
  • Psalms for Families, by Robert J. Keeley and Laura Keeley, is an online devotional guide for the entire family designed to help parents explore the riches of the book of Psalms and their patterns of praise, prayer, and lament with children and teens.
  • Teach Us to Pray: Scripture-Centered Family Worship through the Year, by Lora A. Copley and Elizabeth Vander Haagen, is a daily prayer book that guides families in both listening to and speaking to God through songs, Scripture readings, guided action, and quiet contemplation.

Other ideas

  • The article Jesus Cooks Breakfast: Ideas for Sharing Sensory Bible Stories with Kids, by Sandy Swartzentruber, shares some fun ways to help kids explore God’s Word with all five senses.
  • This article from Fuller Youth Institute includes lots of great ideas for family Scripture engagement.
  • If your family is musically inclined and you have young kids, check out Sing Through the Bible from Phil Vischer (creator of VeggieTales), which covers Genesis through Revelation in 30 short music videos. Available on DVD and via Amazon Prime Video.