I started a project where I tried to read the Bible to my son every night before bedtime. That’s it. We read one story and then discuss what it means. The next night we read the next story, and so on. We started with the Gospel of Luke, and now we are almost done reading through 1st and 2nd Chronicles (yes, you read that right). If it’s a late night and we don’t have much time, I will read to him one of the Psalms.
My son is pretty good at reading, so I sometimes have him follow my finger along while I am reading to him. Of course he is 6 years old so he can get a little wiggly. (His sister just turned 3, so she gets even more of a pass.) I have had to learn to let go of expectations of perfection on his part. I just have to trust that there will be a cumulative effect in his spiritual formation.
Why have I decided to do this? Because it is literally the easiest thing to do. Because VeggieTales is not a substitute for parental instruction. Because the notion of family worship isn’t something that I grew up with but sounds intriguing to me.
Mostly, I have become convicted of my role as the primary spiritual teacher for my son and daughter. Television and movies will teach them things opposite of what the Bible teaches. Secular teachers will—in the very best case scenario—teach things that are indifferent to Christianity. Even Sunday school teachers and AWANA will be at best supplemental sources of instruction.
Only I and my wife have the primary task of teaching our children diligently what the Word of God says (Deuteronomy 6:7). Only I and my wife are charged with training up these children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). Only I and my wife are given the divine responsibility to raise these children in the instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).
Will I miss some reading times? I already have. Have I flubbed the explanation of the passage? Yes, both because there were times I did not fully understand the point of the story I was reading, and also because there were times I did have an accurate understanding but employed a truncated explanation. Will my children automatically become always-obedient, perpetually-compliant demi-angels? Ha. Will this practice ensure the eternal salvation of my children? No.
And yet… For His own sovereign purposes, God saw fit to call both me and my wife to repentance and faith, and to become the parents of these particular children. I teach my children what the Bible says, not out of a mechanistic sense of inevitability, but out of gratitude for my own salvation, out of obedience to my Lord, and out of hope that my children will grow to full maturity: knowledge, reproof, correction, training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).
Parents, if you aren’t already reading the Bible to your young children, please start. If your children are a bit older, find what works for your family and then do it. (Also, if you have more experience in this, please share your wisdom!) The Word of God is our only infallible rule for faith and practice, our Lord Jesus Christ deserves our full devotion and faithful service, and our children need their parents to explain what in life is most important.
As this photo reads, your most important disciples are sitting at your kitchen table.