I love to tell the story,
’twill be my theme in glory,
to tell the old old story of Jesus and His love.Arabella Katherine Hankey
This was the hymn for our one of our recent Gatherings. It is a hymn I just absolutely love. When I was a young believer, struggling with the fact that everyone around me seemed to know the entire Bible, while I was just barely getting through Ephesians and James, the music leader at our church would pull this simple exquisite hymn out on a Sunday morning, and my heart would simply burst with joy.
Do you know the story of Jesus and His love? Do you find it hard to simplify and share it with your kids?
Many years later, I am now in the position of one who knows the old, old story and is trying to remember it is simple enough for a child to understand. Eschatology, theology, and all the other -ology’s are tucked away in my brain after over a quarter century of following Him. But distilling this down so my kids can know the stories? That IS a hard task!
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The Simplicity of the Gospel Message
You know that old statement, “He can’t see the forest for the trees?” I heard that when I was on my morning walk the other day (podcast listening) in another context and suddenly it struck me, “This is what the problem is for teaching kids about Jesus.” We get so hung up on the details regarding atonement and justification, we forget the simplicity of the gospel message.
Also, we get so focused on making sure they know all the stories of the Old Testament, that we forget to remind them (or even tell them) all the stories point to Him!
My kids have a way of bringing it all back to the simple. My oldest went to Awana the other night and came back saying she had memorized “the entire black page” in her book. She said, “I would like to share it with you.” I prepared myself for a long recitation on some Biblical topic.
She began, “Sin is anything that you think, say or do against God. Some types of sin are disobeying your parents, disobeying any of God’s commandments, or even lying. When you sin, it separates you from God. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23.”
Well, goodness, girlie. That is such a simple explanation of sin, I cannot have done better. Simple is brilliant.
Help with Simple Stories
I struggle with not going into an immense amount of detail in my personal Bible study. That is likely reflected in the results of our Inductive Bible Study series. Thus, we have reached out a number of times to some extra resources to “tell the stories” of the Bible for our little kids.
To these resources I have returned again and again to help me simply tell the Bible stories to my kids. Since they have been a blessing to me, I thought I would pass them along to you. I pray they will help equip you to teach your kids and also help you to “tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.”
Equipping Parents to Teach the Bible to Kids
It should go without saying that the best preparation to teach the Bible to kids to study it for oneself. However, many of us do not feel we have the time for an extra Bible study and a Bible study with our kids.
I have been reading The Seven Laws of Teaching by John Milton Gregory as a preparation for teaching in our home this year. It is profound in its simplicity of thought and expression. And it has been a good reminder of how best to present the truth of Scripture to my little ones.
Which got me thinking about review. Mr. Gregory, in his Seven Laws wrote:
In the Bible more than in any other book are reviews needful and valuable. Not only does the Bible most require and most repay repeated study, but most of all ought Bible knowledge to be familiar to us. Its words and precepts should rest clear and precise in the thought as the dictates of duty.The Seven Laws of Teaching
The way we ought to prepare to teach our kids is to always have it fresh in our minds – to be constantly reviewing and rehearsing the stories. Doing this in our own regular Bible study – simply focusing on the stories of the Scriptures – will help us to make connections and share the heroes of the Word with our kids.
To be clear here, I believe others who have written various volumes on the Word to be valuable. However, nothing is more necessary and needful to developing one’s familiarity and understanding of Scripture as simply reading and rehearsing the Scripture. It is sufficient, without explanation or explication.
The places where understanding is lacking or where questions arise are opportunities to discuss these things with your family. I love when my kids ask questions only a kid would ask, which defies my abilities. Those are the kinds of questions we can remind our kids, “God knows. And maybe one day He will tell us why.”
How Not to Tell the Stories of the Bible
One final word about the telling of the Bible stories before I share my favorite Bible story resources. Please, please do not water down the Scriptures with poor translations of Scripture. Dumbing down the language is not going to help children understand the Truth. Notice I capitalized Truth there.
There are many, many resources on the market today which are imitations of Scripture. They are counterfeit versions – men’s (or women’s) words elevated by popularity – which ARE NOT Scripture. Versions where the writer has taken on the personality of God Himself and rewritten in “relatable” first person the words of God are prone to be twisted in theology. I can only imagine how much Screwtape would rejoice in such as these.
So, I warn against these versions of “devotions” or “translations” of Scripture.
Use a good strong translation of Scripture to study and to teach your little flock. God’s Holy Spirit will do His work to ensure the Word does not return void without accomplishing that which He desires. If you are not sure you have a good version of the Bible, please read this article and do your research. It truly makes a difference to Truth.
Telling the Stories of the Bible to Kids
There are times when we as a family do not have time to go into a full-blown inductive study session. I have done my best at times to limit our Bible study time to a set timer. It is difficult for me to do that. Thus, I do have a couple of resources I return to again and again to teach the Bible stories to my kids.
My absolute favorite, go-to resources for Bible stories are:
We were gifted my husband’s grandmother’s vintage copy of this book a few years ago. She used it for years to prepare to teach Sunday School! It is an absolute treasure to me.
I just took it out the other day and read the story of Moses raising up the serpent in the desert to my kids. We were using it in our study of the Gospel of John as a shortened way of relating the story to my kids. If we had gone all the way back to Exodus, we might have had a two to three week detour! Ha!
Egermeier’s Bible Story Book is wonderful for telling the stories referenced in the New Testament quickly and succinctly. And they are true to a good translation. There isn’t a lot of filler or speculation. However, the stories are told in vivid language which helps “set the scene” for each of the stories.
This collection of Bible story books is SO FUN! We discovered them through my pastor’s wife when she was sharing it with our girls at our Bible study childcare. The stories in Read Aloud Bible Stories are simple and exciting for little ears and eyes.
The illustrations are really neat, too! One of my favorite things about them is they never have a picture of Jesus, so kids can continue to imagine Him (as they learn about Him) instead of having a picture of Him (which may or may not be accurate) already in their minds.
We have had these books since before my oldest could read. This collection has been well-loved by three different early readers. And we are still loving them! There are currently 5 volumes in this collection.
The Stories of the Bible are Not a Substitute
These simple resources are helps. They are not the real thing! I only reach for these resources in our Bible study time to support the understanding of a story. As I mentioned before, we turned to it while studying a New Testament book to explicate a reference to an Old Testament event.
The Scriptures are what tell the true story. They are sufficient and inerrant. And they are to be supreme.
If you are looking for help in studying the Scripture with your kids, I have some some simple helps which may equip you.
- A Guide for Getting Started with Inductive Bible Study with your Kids
- Our Inductive Study of the Gospel of John (ongoing)
- Our Inductive Study of the Story of the Birth of Jesus.