One of the most referred to Scripture passages on the topic of family discipleship is Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Its words are spoken over parents during baby dedication services, a source of inspiration on social media graphics, and the keystone of many parenting seminars.
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.
You shall teach them diligently to your children,
and shall talk of them when you sit in your house,
and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
But are you aware that these words also apply to grandparents? Let’s back up a moment to see this well-known passage of Scripture in context.
“Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—
that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you,
that you may do them in the land to which you are going over,
to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God,
you and your son and your son’s son….”
Do you see it? Moses is addressing the entire nation of Israel with the words of God, and he says, “you and your son and your son’s son” – grandparent, parent, grandchild.
Grandparent, while the world around us is trying desperately to tell us that our work is finished, God’s Word clearly says otherwise. We have a critical role in the lives of our grandchildren, and it is centered around passing onto them a heritage of faith in Jesus Christ.
Reading the Bible
There are many discipleship practices we can employ as we endeavor to pass our faith in Christ to the next generations. Bible reading is one, for there is no other book like it.
In its pages, God is revealed helping our grandchildren grow in knowledge of him. When our grandchildren read the Bible, space is created for them to encounter God and experience life transformation. The Word of God also provides our grandchildren with a measuring stick for how to live.
Five Tips for Teaching Grandchildren How to Read the Bible
We want to help our grandchildren learn to read the Bible, but most of us don’t know where to begin. Some of us even find the thought of the task a bit overwhelming. As we’ve already mentioned, the Bible is a book like no other. It is big and powerful and complex. Truth be told, it is enough to scare off many adults. How can we possibly help our grandchildren develop the daily habit of reading and enjoying it?
Let me begin by saying there are no guarantees or easy formulas. God created each of us uniquely. Our grandchildren’s learning styles and preferences are all different. As well, reading the Bible for growth and transformation is Holy Spirit work, and the Holy Spirit’s working does not fit into a well-defined, predictable box. That being said, here are five tips for doing our part.
1. Read, Read, Read
The best place to begin is to simply open the Bible and read. Start by reading together. Choose the passage yourself or let your grandchild choose. If neither of those options work, find a reading plan. (Try a google search for “Bible reading plan for children.”) Plans are abundant and can serve to provide a helpful “map” on this new journey.
If you see your grandchild daily, try to read daily – even if only for ten minutes. If on the other hand, you are a long-distance grandparent, consider making Bible reading a part of your face-to-face visits or developing a plan for reading with your grandchildren via your favorite social media platform.
The idea is to help your grandchildren develop a daily habit of Bible reading. One they look forward to and enjoy. Start small, keeping their age and attention span in mind. You can always build as they grow.
2. Set an Example
Let your grandchildren see you reading your Bible. Model consistent, intentional, joyful reading. And talk with them about the passages you read and what you are learning. We all know that little eyes are always watching.
3. Make Sure They Have a Bible
If your grandchild does not have a Bible of their own, consider purchasing one for them – for Christmas, a birthday, or just because. Help to convey the extraordinary value of this precious gift by purchasing the highest quality Bible you can afford. This loving act will provide your grandchild with a personal copy of God’s Word that they can pick up, flip through, and read on their own.
4. Engage Your Grandchildren with the Bible Text
I read my Bible in different ways depending on my purpose for reading. Sometimes I simply sit and read the words, letting them wash over me. I often refer to this as pleasure reading. Other times, I read more thoughtfully, digging in and engaging with the words on the page. This is reading that aids in my learning and growing.
Just as I, an adult, need this, so do our grandchildren. Author and Bible teacher, Jen Wilkin, advocates for young students doing adult-type Bible reading, rejecting the idea that Bible study is only for adults.
“A child who is capable of reading is capable of reading the Bible. Children need early exposure to the Scriptures because they need to see them as a familiar friend.” –Jen Wilkin
We CAN teach our grandchildren to read thoughtfully, digging in and engaging with the words, and there are many ways to do it. Here are a few ideas:
Use Guiding Questions – Teach your grandchild to engage with the Scripture by providing them with a question to be answered. Give them the question first. Then have them read with purpose – looking for the answer.
Encourage Reading with a Pen – When your grandchildren read the Bible, encourage them to highlight repeated words and phrases, search for patterns, and look up definitions for unknown words.
Incorporate Their “God-wiring” – The Creator of the Universe has “wired” each of us uniquely. Learn about your grandchild’s interests and then work to incorporate those interests into their Bible reading. Let the artists draw, the intellectuals create charts and graphs, the thespians act, and the singers sing. If you can integrate their interests, your grandchildren are much more likely to be engaged with the words they are reading.
5. Discuss What You Read
If we want our grandchildren to reap all the wonderful benefits of Bible reading, we cannot be satisfied with their reading it, closing it, and putting it on a shelf. We must make space for discussion. Following are a couple of ideas to help you get started in this area:
Create a Safe Atmosphere – Before meaningful discussion can occur, your grandchild must feel safe to express their thoughts, questions, and concerns. Listen and be willing to work through the hard stuff with them. This is a place for grace not judgment.
Ask Questions – Questions are one of the most effective ways to get a discussion going. Start simply with a question or two that will let you know if your grandchild understood the passage (comprehension). Then move to deeper questions about meaning and application. One of my favorite questions to ask is, “What does this passage teach us about God?”
What could be more important than teaching your grandchildren to read the Bible? Whether you are working in tandem with their parents or filling a deep need for grandchildren whose parents aren’t currently walking with the Lord, your efforts will help your grandchildren develop a healthy spiritual habit that will make space for them to encounter God and experience life transformation.