Bible reading is one of the most important activities you can do with children. I believe that every Sunday school session, family devotion and children’s church meeting should include a time of Bible reading.
Since the Bible is God’s Word, we should do our best to listen to it.
The Big Problem: Can Kids Understand?
Children become discouraged when they don’t understand. Most kids experience a knowledge gap when the Bible is read aloud. Sometimes it’s the vocabulary, sometimes it’s the concepts, and sometimes it’s just the way the text is read.
Let’s be honest – Most children have a hard time comprehending the Bible when it is read aloud. Every week in church, many children are only learning to check out mentally while God’s Word is read.
Don’t give up. I believe that all of this can be overcome, and children can learn to appreciate the public reading of the scriptures. The benefits are much bigger than the challenges.
Another Problem: Will Kids Be Bored?
It’s contrary to their nature to listen while the Bible is read. One dogma of modern children’s ministry is to “keep the kids moving.” While this is true in general, there must be times when the children learn to be still and listen.
Reality check – nearly everything about reading the Bible aloud is counter cultural. Children have been groomed by our society to demand entertainment. All those hours watching television, or playing video games have trained their minds. This makes the simple reading of the Bible a strange and potentially boring activity.
Some children will be bored, but this should not be the only factor that directs your ministry. The benefits of hearing God’s Word are much greater than the potential drawbacks. These problem can be overcome, especially when care is taken to lessen its effects.
Some Practical Tips For Reading The Bible To Children
1. Teach about the importance of listening to God’s Word.
Have you ever told the children how blessed we are to have the Bible? God was very good to give us his directions, we must learn to value them.
2. Use a consistent translation that is appropriate for children.
We use the ESV, which is on the harder end of readability for children. I will sometimes go to the NiRV on more difficult passages.
3. Choose short passages that emphasize action.
The Gospel of Mark is full of action and short units. These make it an ideal place to start reading aloud to children.
4. Use expositional reading.
Be willing to pause and explain the hard parts. I prepare a marked copy of the passage by underlining difficult words and making notes in the side margins.
5. Practice the passage you will read.
“Always be prepared” is a great motto for children’s ministry too. Read the passage aloud several times. It will make a big difference.
6. Model excitement and interest in the Bible.
Children will learn as much from your attitude as from what you say. If you believe that God is speaking in the Bible, then act like it.
7. Read dramatically and with good storytelling techniques.
This comes from being prepared. Make eye contact as much as possible with the children. Pause to build suspense. Use your own body language to add character to the reading.
Do you read the Bible aloud for children?
Have you had trouble getting kids to listen to the Bible? How did you solve that problem? What practical tips can you share? The comment section is open – I’d love to have your feedback.