At Christmas time, I saw a Bible reading plan that my brother-in-law had written for his church. He designed it to help new readers of God’s Word from getting bogged down, and yet guide them as they develop good habits of reading the Bible. My sister-in-law Rebecca explained that they were excited to be reading as a church body, so that seasoned believers who have no trouble following a Bible reading plan would be reading along with those new to reading the Bible. They are praying for this corporate reading to lead to more corporate conversations revolving around God’s Word– true fellowship.
Aha! I thought. This would be fantastic for children— So I begged a booklet, and I decided that, for the first time ever, I would be requiring daily Bible reading.
I’ve blogged about this before. I am uneasy with requiring spiritual responses from children. I have been trying to tease out what exactly I’m trying to avoid and accomplish as I reconsider my approach.
First, in the past, my children had not made a profession of faith. I was particularly concerned that requiring spiritual activity would tend toward confusing them for their need for Christ. I did not want them thinking that developing Bible reading (or other spiritual disciplines) was essentially making them right with God.
I also wanted to see their responses to the gospel, apart from my direction. By requiring spiritual disciplines, I can cloud my own perspective of where they are spiritually. Especially when I’m trying to understand their response to the gospel, I wanted to step back and watch.
However, as I watch them, I see that that have a desire to read their Bibles. I see that they know they should read their Bibles, and I see that their conscience troubles them (they feel guilty) when they don’t. But they don’t yet have the discipline or knowledge to regularly read on their own. Their appetite is developing, but it is not voracious.
As I consider other habits that I require, I am understanding that, at this stage of my children’s lives, requiring a regular time of Bible reading will be helpful for them. I’ve been doing this about a month, and had about two and a half weeks of reading. (I’m still working on keeping it consistent even when our schedule shifts and changes.) I’ve noticed that our children seem to be responding right now to individual discussion of the content (instead of waiting until they are all finished, and then talking about it at the table all together), that they WANT to discuss what they are reading, and that they are really enjoying having something to check off each day. They did much better when I dedicated a drawer just for pens and their booklets. (Before, they would spend 10 minutes looking for their sheets which for some reason never stayed in their Bibles.)
I do have some weak spots: I need to be faithful in reading to Laurel, who is not a strong enough reader to read the selections by herself. I’d say I’ve read about half of the days to her. I need to be more faithful to help them be more faithful. I am certain that requiring Bible reading will not be something I do perpetually, but I do want to help them develop the skills they need to keep reading on their own.
Tomorrow I’ll talk about one of our corporate conversations that has stuck with me for several weeks.
I found another person who wrote a Bible reading plan for children here. He has a similar idea (read his explanation of the plan), but adds a guided response prompt with each reading. I like it very much!