Introducing the Big Bible Challenge

WHO CAN BE A BIBLE COACH?

Are you …

A parent                                                                                

Another family member                                                       

A godparent                                                                          

An older friend                                                                      

A carer                                                                                  

A children’s group leader                                                    

A children’s worker                                                              

A church leader                                                                    

A teacher                                                                              

An older high school or university student             

Someone who gets excited about the Bible                     

Someone who wants others to share that excitement     

 

 … then being a Big Bible Challenge Bible Coach could be for you!

You may find the word ‘coach’ rather daunting but what we’re talking about is a person who comes alongside someone, a companion who ‘walks’ with them, lets them tell their story, and helps them with the bits they do not understand, so that they find their own answers.

It is a ‘meeting’ that may happen face-to-face as the Bible Coach and child sit together and read the Bible. But it may just as readily take place by phone, text messaging, email, online voice or video calls, online chat – or even by post. You may prefer to call yourself a guide, a mentor, a buddy, a friend or something else entirely, but the important thing is the strength of the relationship between the child and the adult as you explore what God has to show and say to you, together.

‘Your teachings are wonderful, and I respect them all.

Understanding your word brings light

to the minds of ordinary people.

I honestly want to know everything you teach.

Think about me and be kind,

just as you are to everyone who loves your name. Psalm 119:129-132 (CEV).

SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN

If you take on the role of Bible Coach and you are not the child’s parent or in a parental relationship, do remember that you are in a position of trust that continues outside the period of the coaching ‘meetings’. Sadly, an adult taking an ongoing interest in a child today can easily be viewed with suspicion. Every care must be taken to ensure the integrity of this relationship at all times, thus protecting the child and the coach and allowing a valuable coaching journey to develop.

Be open about what you are doing and do not do anything secretly, privately or exclusively.

Respect the child’s parents and don’t do anything to undermine their role or authority.

Any communication or direct contact with a child needs to be characterised by transparency and integrity and must operate within your national and/or church policies on safeguarding children.

WHY DO CHILDREN NEED A BIBLE COACH?

Terry Williams, Children’s Ministry Coordinator for Scripture Union International, shares a few of the nuggets of wisdom he has gathered as he has mentored and coached hundreds of children and young people. 

This morning I read in my Bible the story of Samson picking up the jawbone of an ass and slaughtering 1,000 Philistines. Not quite the inspiring start to the day I was hoping for and I soon looked for someone to talk with about this reading to explore some of the questions that arose in my mind. Last week, I was reading about Ananias and Sapphira dropping dead because they were a little too liberal with the truth. Again, I sought out some friends to help me reflect on my understanding of God and his character in the light of this incident.

And then it struck me – how would a child process this information, while lying on their bed alone in their room? While some may have the benefit of a Christian parent who may be able to process this, many do not.

Consider again the Ethiopian returning home to Jerusalem in his chariot and reading the Scriptures…

‘Philip ran up close and heard the man reading aloud from the book of Isaiah. Philip asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

The official answered, “How can I understand unless someone helps me?”

He then invited Philip to come up and sit beside him.

So Philip began at this place in the Scriptures and explained the good news about Jesus’ (Acts 8:30,31,35 CEV).

Consider also the two disciples walking side by side on the road to Emmaus, discussing and trying to make sense of all they had seen. It wasn’t until a ‘stranger’ fell into step with them and ‘explained everything written about himself in the Scriptures’, spent time with them and shared in a fellowship meal that they knew who he was, their eyes were opened and they understood who it was who walked with them and why their hearts were ‘warm’.

The Bible is the book of the faith community and trying to understand the Bible together is what God intended when he gave the Bible to the community of his people. Close, warm relationships are vital when we are exploring strange, sometimes threatening territory, when you want to ask some of life’s biggest questions, when you want to laugh or cry, or when you simply want to sit and wonder, but not alone.

Children often find it hard to read the Bible. They focus on how easy it is to reject the Bible as having nothing to do with real life: there is not enough in it that is identifiably related to them; it’s about people who are different. The Bible spans different centuries, countries and climates. It’s full of wacky names, values, social and religious customs. Children can’t make head or tail of what’s happening on the political scene in the historical bits. It seems as if you would have to be a masochistic mental contortionist to make any sense of it at all, let alone see yourself reflected in its stories. Not attractive, not relevant, just not them.

So, what could help children to be excited about the Bible, to handle it, to understand it and to relate it to their own lives? A key factor – perhaps the key factor – is being connected with another follower of Jesus. Most of us would have seen at some stage a glimmer of the motivation in children that can result from caring, adult encouragement. Big Bible Challenge encourages older Christians to make a commitment to journey with a child and provides the tools to help a child open the pages of their Bible and explore their life experiences.

Just as important, is the urgent need to come alongside our children to help them reflect biblically on the multitude of voices and messages with which they are bombarded each day. What is ‘truth’ in a postmodern generation and where can it be found? In the midst of life that is unfair, a world that promotes self-indulgence, experiences that undermine self-worth and, sadly, families that are too busy or too dysfunctional to nurture faith, our children are looking for help.

We want children to know the authority of the Bible, to allow it to shape their beliefs and actions and so to grow as disciples of Jesus and as servants of a world in need.

 

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF A BIBLE COACH?

Choose from friend, leader, guide, director, listener, encourager, teacher, arbiter, advisor, counsellor, provider of energy and security, mentor, coach, rewarder and global interpreter. Yes, we probably need to be all these and more when we read the Bible with children. But don’t worry – if we are living God’s Word ourselves, we shall probably be most of them without really trying!

In the Big Bible Challenge, the role of the Bible Coach is to:

• read the same Bible readings at the same time as the child

• share joint encounters with God through the Bible readings

• explore connections between the Bible text and life experiences

• be available to explore and discuss themes, teaching and questions as they arise

• be committed to regular contact with the child

• be available to provide support and encouragement, when required

• encourage the child to establish a regular Bible reading habit

• be open, be vulnerable, be authentic, be honest

• inform and involve the child’s parents or other caregivers as much as you can (if you are not in that role with the child yourself).

Along the way and through this process, Bible Coaches may discover that they are:

• transformed personally by what God reveals in the Bible

• developing a lifelong love and respect for God’s Word

• developing their own capacity to handle the Bible in a mature way.

Remember, our children’s attitude to the Bible is caught, not taught.

In the time that an adult and child spend together, the most important factor is that the message of the Bible is being lived out by the person the child is with ‘… No amount of talking or training will communicate that the Bible is totally relevant if our own lives don’t match up with what God says through the Bible.’ (From The Adventure Begins, Terry Clutterham, Scripture Union 1996.)

What a privilege to be a Bible Coach for a young reader! And what a growing experience as, together, you dig into what the Bible says and help guide a child in their understanding and application of the Scriptures into everyday life! ‘Just as iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen the minds of each other’ (Proverbs 27:17 CEV).

Ten top tips

1   It will be helpful to work out with your child the best regular time and method for conversations to happen. Many children are already busy young people who are juggling a number of commitments. Be sensitive to their time constraints. If you know ahead of time that you will be unavailable at your prearranged time, give your child advance notice and reschedule.

2   Give honest (age-appropriate) answers rather than ‘perfect’ answers and be willing to share failures as well as successes. If you have difficulty thinking of an answer to their question, it is OK to give yourself some thinking time and tell them you will get back to them; or, even better, see if you can work out the answer together.

3   Take a genuine interest in the child, asking about what is happening in their world and cheering them on in their own faith journey, while sharing regular experiences from your own life.

4   Pray regularly for your child.

5   Be encouraging and affirming. Let your child know that you look forward to your conversations together.

6   Maintain a sense of anticipation with your child that you are looking at a special book in which you expect to come face-to-face with God. Encourage an attitude of discovery – looking for God on every page.

7   Help your child to see their own life story as part of the vast epic of God’s Word, as you show the reality of God at work in their life. Always be prepared to relate stories from your own life that reveal how God is at work in the lives of his followers.

8   Wherever possible, ask your child what difference their discoveries might make to their lives. While we cannot dictate the difference it might make, we can suggest aspects of their lives that might be affected.

9   Do not expect every conversation to end in your child’s values and lifestyle being turned upside down. God does demand change through the Bible, and we must not underestimate a child’s ability to live a thrillingly radical Christian life; but change and growth are normally slow.

10  Be open to the possibility that the ‘coaching’ relationship may continue beyond the Big Bible Challenge.

 

HOW DOES THE BIG BIBLE CHALLENGE WORK?

E100 (Essential 100) is a Bible reading programme that connects the adult reader with 100 essential readings from God’s Word. You can find out more about E100 for you and your church at www.e100challenge.com/ For children and ‘their’ adults, the Big Bible Challenge takes the same 100 parts of the Bible and delivers them in an adventurous and colourful way.

Who can take the Big Bible Challenge?

The Big Bible Challenge for families

The Big Bible Challenge is ideal for children and adults to use together. A parent or any other family member is a natural candidate for the role of a Bible Coach to take the challenge with one or more children. Or how about making the Big Bible Challenge the basis for a shared time with God, with all the family exploring the Bible together? Could you introduce the idea of a family Bible time, maybe once a week, and work through the Big Bible Challenge sections? And if you already spend time together in this way, use the Big Bible Challenge to give you all a greater sense of the big story of God and his people.

The Big Bible Challenge for churches

Adults in churches all around the world are taking the E100 Challenge, based around 100 carefully selected Bible readings (50 from the Old Testament and 50 from the New Testament) designed to give participants a good understanding of the overall Bible story from Genesis to Revelation. The ‘E’ stands for Essential and each of the Essential 100 readings ranges from a few verses to a few chapters. As more people become inspired to meet God every day through the Bible, they have started to ask for a parallel product to use with children in church or at home.

If your church is taking the E100 Challenge, then the Big Bible Challenge is a perfect way to help your church-children join in, with the programme adapted to the children’s age and stage of development.

The Big Bible Challenge for Christian groups (such as holiday clubs, school clubs, midweek clubs)

The Big Bible Challenge is ideal for children and adults to use together in group situations. This may be in a church where others are taking the E100 Challenge, but the Big Bible Challenge works independently, too. It can be used in children’s groups in church and at school; on Sundays or midweek; with adult leaders or in peer-led situations. The Big Bible Challenge is versatile enough to be used face-to-face in holiday clubs or missions – and as follow-up material afterwards. The role of Bible Coach can happen in a face-to-face meeting but also at a distance, with the mentoring relationship maintained through texts, online messaging, telephone, post and emails.

What do I get?

The Big Bible Challenge has three components.

1 Big Bible Challenge: the book

The 100 Bible readings in the adults’ E100 Challenge are arranged in 20 sections or ‘challenges’, each including five Bible stories.

The Big Bible Challenge book gives you the tools to explore one of those five stories in detail and the other four Bible passages in outline, with extra material available online.

Each challenge begins with a small picture to introduce the story; a set of questions to get you thinking; and a timeline to help you understand where this part of the Bible occurs within the bigger picture of the whole of the Old or New Testament.

Turn the page to find a slightly larger picture and 10 to 15 verses from the Bible to read together. To help you set these verses into the wider Bible story, there are helpful paragraphs to explain ‘The story so far…’ and ‘What happened next…’

What will you explore next? The Big Bible Challenge gives you a choice! Opposite the page with the Bible verses, you will now see a varied menu of ways to explore the Bible story.

You can explore more; ponder children’s questions about the story; learn some facts; try it out; and talk to God. Or you can open out the page to reveal a colour picture that illustrates all five Bible stories in this challenge.

You’ll be able to spot where the small pictures come from – and discover much, much more as you examine the pictures together.

Close up the picture again and turn the folded page over to find four more Bible stories from this challenge. Find out where these stories occur on the big picture, answer the questions together and go to www.bigbiblechallenge.com to find out more.

2 Big Bible Challenge: online for Bible Coaches

As you are reading this online material, you will already know where to find it and what’s available to download. But, in case you haven’t looked all around the site yet, www.bigbiblechallenge.com is the place to find:

  • An introduction to the Big Bible Challenge: all about the challenge and about being a Bible Coach
  • How the Big Bible Challenge works: expert tips and ideas for making the most of the challenge – and making the most of the opportunities that exploring the Bible together can offer
  • Taking the Big Bible Challenge together, in 20 challenges: further ideas and more detail, building on what you are discovering in the Big Bible Challenge book. Each challenge gives you background to the Bible stories; suggestions for taking the challenge together; creative prayer activities; things to wonder about together and questions and answers to discuss.

Being a Bible Coach and joining a child as they meet with God and explore the Bible is a privilege – but it can be scary too! The online material for Bible Coaches is here to give you added confidence and assurance, helping you to engage in conversation with the child, promote reflection and share discoveries from the five readings in each challenge. The information on this site will help you, as Bible Coach, to make the most of each of these conversations and the relationship that you have established with your child.

3 Big Bible Challenge: online for children

As you go through the Big Bible Challenge book, you will find that there are further resources online for children at www.bigbiblechallenge.com to extend their exploration of the story. These might be a full-size template for a craft activity, a map, or maybe an interview to read. And you’ll find bonus material online too!

Making the most of…

The artwork in the Big Bible Challenge

Each of the 20 challenges in the Big Bible Challenge is illustrated with exciting colour artwork, showing the five Bible stories from the particular group. Give your child plenty of time and opportunity to examine the picture for themselves: there is always a lot to see and explore.

As you look further, encourage your child to put what they are seeing into words, with discussion-starters such as:

  • Who is in the picture?
  • What is happening?
  • Can you remember what happened before this?
  • Can you tell the story, using the picture as a reminder?
  • What do you think will happen next?

Making the most of…

Your own story in the Big Bible Challenge

As you share the Bible stories in the Big Bible Challenge with your child, weave in relevant examples from your own life, from the life of someone you know or a famous Christian, past or present. It’s easy for children (and maybe for adults, too) to think of biblical stories as something that happened a long, long time ago. The stories may be interesting – but do they really apply to ‘me’, today?

Your personal story does not need to be super-dramatic or full of amazing happenings. Your everyday stories of God in your life, and in the lives of people you know, will have a powerful impact on your child, especially when you can describe an event that is paralleled in a Bible story (losing and finding, like the woman looking for her coin; needing forgiveness – and being forgiven –  like Peter when he made mistakes; facing an enormous task and feeling unsure, like Joshua).

Your own story includes what you have discovered when you’ve read the Bible. As you take the Big Bible Challenge with your child, remember that God will be speaking to you as much as to the child. Be open to hearing him and to sharing those insights, in an age-appropriate way, with your child. 

Making the most of…

Questions and answers in the Big Bible Challenge

One of my earliest Bible memories is of being worried by the story of the birth of Jesus. I had been told about the shepherds watching their flocks of sheep, out on the hillside at night. It was a dangerous job. The sheep might be attacked by wolves or bears – or thieves might come and steal them away. It was very important that the shepherds were there. And then they all ran off to the stable to see the baby – but what happened to the sheep?

For the Big Bible Challenge, we have invited children to ask questions about each of the 100 Bible passages – and to ask about the things they really want to know. Then their Bible Coaches (parents, grandparents, sisters, leaders, friends and others) have responded to those questions.

Ann, one of the Big Bible Challenge ‘answerers’, explains how it happened for her and her grandson Lewis as they explored the stories of the lost sheep and the lost coin.

‘I told Lewis I was going to read him a story and then we would talk about it. He sat beside me and I read it. His immediate reaction was, “That’s weird”.

‘I was rather surprised at that reaction as the story seemed quite straightforward to me, but I was interested to know which bit of it was “weird”. His answer, “Why would the woman bother about one lost coin”, was obvious! Of course, to Lewis a coin is of little worth.

‘This showed me that Lewis didn’t know the background to the Bible. I took his comment as a starting point and told him that in those days those coins might be all the woman possessed and that there was no bank to get any more from. That unlocked a meaning for him and he understood the story at face value, even linking it with the lost sheep. He could relate to the idea of a lost sheep as he lives in the country and knows the importance of livestock.

‘Then I moved him on and asked if there was anything else he’d like to say about the story. He said he didn’t know what “repent” meant. I explained that to him, and took the opportunity to explain the word “sins” at the same time without him having to ask. Then he went into a long explanation linking “doing sins” with being lost and “saying sorry” with being found.

I didn’t want him to think that only one in a hundred sheep (people) commit sins, so I asked if he thought the other sheep might do wrong things. Then, still talking about sheep, he agreed that they all take turns to go wrong and then come back.

‘I wanted to point out the “joy in heaven”, so I ended by telling him that God is happy when we say sorry and he lets us start again. He replied by implicitly referring to the shepherd looking for the lost sheep by saying, “It’s nice that God finds you.”’

You’ll find Lewis and Ann’s conversation at Challenge 12 in the story ‘Lost and found’.

And there are more real-life questions and answers throughout the book and the online material. Why not look at these questions with your own child? Maybe you – or they – would give a different answer? Maybe the Bible story prompts different questions for you and your child? Go to the forum on www.bigbiblechallenge.com to share your own questions and answers with others taking the challenge.

For more about questions and answers, go to ‘How can I know the “right” answer?’ and the sections on ‘How to ask great questions’; ‘How to answer impossible questions’; and ‘“I don’t know”’.

Making the most of…

The end of each ‘challenge’

There are no set timings for completing each challenge of the Big Bible Challenge: you may like to work through a whole challenge in one go; or you can spread it across several days or weeks. However you choose to tackle each challenge, you will find it helpful to mark the end of each one with a few moments to review what you have discovered – and what there is still to explore.

To help you do this, the Big Bible Challenge includes a simple evaluation sheet that you can print off as many times as you need to. You can find this in the downloads section of the website. You could print off a copy for each of you to fill in – or complete one between you.

Each time, you will be invited to say:

  • One new thing that I have discovered: this will encourage the child who is already familiar with the Bible to dig deeper, as well as giving the child who is new to the Bible a place to record their thoughts.
  • One thing that this story has reminded me about that I already knew: this will help children value their experience – it’s exciting to realise that you already know about parts of the Bible or a little about who God is or how to live his way.
  • One question or interesting thing that has come from this part of the Bible: this does not have to be ‘solved’ or answered at this point. Both Bible Coach and child can take the question or thought away with them to think about, ponder, maybe research or pray about. You may choose to return to it another time or realise that another part of the Big Bible Challenge has explained what you wanted to know.

The questions are the same each time; they are designed to stimulate you to think about what you have just been doing and what God is saying to you. By doing this regularly, at the end of each 5-story challenge, you will be building up a record of your discoveries while, at the same, storing up and reinforcing your biblical memories.

Evaluation sheet

HOW CAN I CREATE A REGULAR ‘BIBLE TIME’?

  • Encourage your child to give God the best part of their day, or the best parts of their week – the times when they are most alert and free from distractions. This might be before going to bed, straight after the evening meal (instead of watching TV) or waking up earlier in the morning (and going to bed earlier to cope with that).
  • Be open to sharing your past experiences with reading your Bible and your current practices. Honesty is what is required here – this is not about false impressions.
  • Encourage the child to pray, even briefly, both before and after their Bible time.
  • Point out that a good time in God’s Word will usually lead them into prayer.

 

HOW CAN I UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE BETTER?

There’s a welcome side effect to being a Bible Coach because God will speak to you through his Word just as much as he speaks to your child. Look out for and make the most of these opportunities, by:

  • praying and asking the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to what God is saying to you through the Bible;
  • sharing what you are learning with other Christians – and learning from them so that we all learn, together, what God is saying;
  • seeing the Bible as one big story about God taking action in his world – a story that helps us to see what action God wants to take in the story of our own lives;
  • checking  that our understanding of the part of the Bible we are looking at is similar to the understanding of the first audience or participants, by asking:
    • What were the customs and cultures in those days?
    • What type of writing is it? – a poem, a dream, a history book, and so on.
    • Where does it fit into the whole Bible’s story?
  • trusting the Bible and allowing it to check our understanding;
  • realising how our own experiences, culture and world view affect our understanding;
  • listening carefully to what Christians from other backgrounds understand and checking it all against the main message of the Bible;
  • allowing the Bible to change your life, as you discover more and put more of it into practice;
  • using the Bible to answer our own big questions of faith such as:
    • Who was – and is – Jesus?
    • Why did he come to earth and live amongst people?
    • Why did he die and rise again?
    • Where is he now?
    • What happens when he returns?
  • receiving the Bible as a love letter from God that leads us to love God and love others in return.

So get into it with God’s help – and enjoy!

 

HOW CAN I HELP A CHILD UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE BETTER?

Terry Clutterham, Director of Ministry Delivery for Scripture Union (England and Wales) shares this simple pattern for exploring the Bible together.

‘Thank God together for the Bible and for being there to help you enjoy it and learn from it. (This helps to build up a sense of anticipation.)

Read the Bible verses in a way that will help them come alive – aloud or silently, with great expression or through drama, using imagination or by suggesting things to look for, with pictures or symbols to focus on.

Engage thoughts, feelings and actions to get ‘under the skin’ of what the Bible verses are about; listen to any insights that your child may have; use the Big Bible Challenge prompts and ideas; make your own observations; and try to answer the big questions about God:

  • Who does this part of the Bible tell us God is, directly in the words or because of the kinds of things he is doing or saying?
  • What is God like in this passage?
  • What has he done? Or what is he doing now? Or what will he do?
  • What does God want?
  • What doesn’t he want?
  • What might it be like to live with this God?

Share together how the verses have touched you; have made you think; have enthused you to do something practical or changed your attitude; have reminded you of something else in the Bible or in your own life; have reminded you how Jesus helps to make sense of it all.

As a result of your discoveries, pray together, responding to God in a way that you and the child find most helpful, recognizing what God has said, who we are and what we are like. Try to answer the question, ‘So what do we want to say to God now?’

(From The Adventure Begins, Scripture Union 1996.) 

 

HOW CAN I KNOW THE ‘RIGHT ANSWER’?

Christine Wright, freelance author, Bible scholar and busy grandparent, suggests how to feel more confident about handling children’s questions.

How to ask great questions

It’s all too easy for adults to get into ‘management’ mode and spend their time telling children what to do and how to do it and then asking questions to see whether it’s been done. Let’s check our own ‘mode’ with the children we spend time with, inside or outside the home. How much of what we say is ‘managing’ the children and how much is conversational? If we discover that we spend a lot of time in ‘management’ mode, we need to try to learn the art of conversation. We could change our questions to include those that put us alongside the children, rather than directing their activity.

Listen carefully to how other people ask questions and you may find that the best way of getting others to talk is to use ‘open’ questions. For instance, the question ‘Did you like the Bible story?’ is closed because there are only two possible answers, yes or no.

‘What did you like about the Bible story?’ is more of an open question because there are several possible replies and the child can give a more informative answer.

By asking open questions, we may not get the answer we wanted or even something that we think of as the ‘right answer’. That’s not the point, though. Exploring and learning is more than being given the ‘right answers’. It’s about beginning to think for oneself. This opens up the ability to ‘wonder’ about things as we grow up, for instance:

  • wondering who God is;
  • wondering who we are;
  • wondering why things are as they are;
  • wondering about the greatness of God;
  • wondering how to pray;
  • wondering about suffering.

Asking great questions is an art – but it’s one that can be learned! It’s easy to turn a chat about a Bible story into an interrogation but, by varying the types of question, it is possible to keep the conversation going and to explore different ideas and possibilities.

How to answer impossible questions

What happens if your child asks a question that you can’t answer? It’s something that many adults fear. Often children do ask questions that have no simple answer – and sometimes we just don’t know the answer. An honest ‘I don’t know’ is preferable to a long answer that actually says nothing (as we all know from our own experience of asking questions). The honest answer also leaves the door open for the child to ask someone else and to keep asking and thinking about the question.

Perhaps we have a mental picture of a ‘teacher’ who knows everything and feel that we would have let the children down and embarrassed ourselves if we didn’t know something. If we get into that way of thinking we are still holding on to that ‘right answer/wrong answer’ mentality. Maybe that was the way we were taught the Christian faith, but there are other ways of nurturing children in faith. Children will ask questions, but we don’t have to know all the answers! In fact, sometimes we don’t need to answer at all.

So, what can we say? It helps to know what the child is thinking and what made her ask the question. We might ask, ‘That’s a good question. What do you think about it?’

In this way, the child will reveal something about her level of development, enabling you to see the way she is thinking. In fact, most children will be quite satisfied with their own answer and if so, we need to respect their own insights, trusting that they will move on and will be forming and reshaping their own understanding as they grow up.

When we do answer questions, we must take care only to say just enough to satisfy curiosity. An answer that gives more information than children really want to know may lead to them not wanting to ask again!

“I don’t know”

There will be times when you simply do not know the answer to a question but you know there is an answer somewhere. One way of dealing with this is to say, ‘I don’t know but I’ll find out and let you know, the next time we meet.’ If you promise this, make sure you follow it up and do find the answer and share it with the child. This will show the child that you take their questions seriously and that you are trustworthy: you do what you say you will do.

But an even better way is to say, ‘I don’t know. Let’s see if we can find out the answer together.’ Finding the answer could involve checking a Bible reference book, going to a library, researching online, asking someone who may know – or checking the Big Bible Challenge resources. It may be that you still cannot find an answer. But trying to find out together does much more than answering a question: it shows the child how to research an answer so they will learn how to do this for themselves; it demonstrates that it is OK to ask – and that their questions are taken seriously; it gives them – and you – an answer that you did not know before, and deepens your understanding; and it helps build the relationship of trust between you.

 A prayer for your child

‘I pray that (insert name) will rush to hear and respond to your Word, not because they are forced to but because they want to.

‘Please help (insert name) to be sure that, whichever part of the Bible we are  exploring together, the words hold what you, Lord, want (insert name) to know. These words won’t turn out to be lies but truth by which they can safely live their whole life.

‘So, Lord, help me to handle your Word with (insert name) in such a way that they will long to be drawn into it often and will be so engrossed in and shaped by thoughts that are your thoughts, that (insert name) never grows out of your Word but is always growing into it.’

 

  • Dorothy Bradley

    This is good encouragement for me to do. I like the idea of having a support system and a regular set of readings to look at. Thank you

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