I’ve heard it said: You can teach what you know, but you reproduce what you are. Every time I see my kids mimicking my smallest, most irksome mannerisms or sarcastic remarks, I am painfully reminded of this truth.
At the end of the day, I know I will fail my kids, so I want our home to be a place where Jesus is seen as the ultimate example. At best, I want to be able to say to my kids what Paul said to his churches: Be imitators of me as I am of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).
It is in the Scriptures that our children encounter Jesus and learn to know the living God. The Scriptures, Paul writes, were “written for our instruction” (Romans 15:4). They were “breathed out by God” so we could be trained in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).
5 Biblical Routines for the Christian Home
The Bible gives some hints to parents about how they can create a Scripture-saturated home.
Probably one of the clearest bits of instruction to parents is found in Deuteronomy 6. Here, Moses starts with what would later be called the greatest commandment” in the Bible (Mark 12:29-30), and then immediately follows it with a command to parents.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Routine #1: Modeling
Parents should have the words of God “on [their] heart.”
In the Hebrew Scriptures, the heart is the inner person, the place of our deepest thoughts, the seat of our emotions, passions, and conscience. The Word needs to impact parents at the deepest place. Your kids need to see parents who are impacted in a powerful way by the Word.
How do we do this? Establish a routine of sharing what you are learning about God and yourself through the Word. Don’t just apply the Bible to your kids’ lives. Apply it to your own. Set aside specific times to share your convictions with your kids, and you will find yourself doing it more and more throughout the day as well.
Routine #2: Listening
Parents should “talk of them.” Speak God’s words out loud.
Never underestimate the value of just hearing God’s Word itself, without elaboration or explanation. Prior to our print-based culture, this was how most of God’s people filled their minds with the Word: hearing it read aloud (1 Thessalonians 5:27).
How do you do this? Establish a routine of reading aloud to your kids. Yes, we need to be reminding our children of the words of God all the time, but the anchor for this habit is reading God’s word to them. You won’t speak about the Bible all the time everywhere unless you first speak the Bible some of the time somewhere.
Routine #3: Applying
Parents should “teach them diligently.”
The original Hebrew language actually means to sharpen, like sharpening a sword. It is used here in a figurative way here. It means to make the Word of God incisive, like a scalpel. Find ways to get the Word to pierce deeply into our kids’ minds.
How do we do this? Establish a routine of discussing Bible application, deeply impressing your kids with how the Word applies to them directly. Ask your kids critical questions about how the Word applies to specific situations in their lives and dispositions in their hearts.
Routine #4: Memorizing
Parents should “bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.”
The spirit of the commandment is its metaphorical meaning: we and our kids need to be memorizing the words of Scripture, knowing them like the backs of our hands.
How do we do this? Establish a routine of memorization. This can be done in various ways, but the simplest is rote repetition. Recite a portion aloud, have your kids repeat you. Recite it again, have your kids repeat you. Mix it up with different methods.
Routine #5: Writing
Parents should “write them.”
The written commandments of God should be visible at “the doorposts of your house and on your gates”—in other words, in the places where your children will see them. Imagine how helpful this is when we get our children involved in writing the words of God for themselves (Deuteronomy 17:18)? This is a great way to teach our kids God’s words: having them write it out.
How do we do this? Establish a routine of creatively writing out the words of God. When children are young, have kids color pictures of Bible stories and display them in the home. As children learn how to write, use God’s words to teach them their letters. As they get older, have them practice handwriting using God’s words. As they enter their pre-teen years, encourage them to start journaling during their times of prayer.
Tools to Help You
In my home, routines #1-4 happen in the evening during family devotions. My kids listen as I read aloud (routine #2), and I talk about how the Word is convicting me (routine #1) and how it applies to them (routine #3). The family Bible studies I’ve written are geared around these routines. Often we throw in some memory time, reciting aloud passages, creeds, or catechism questions we are memorizing (routine #4).
As for routine #5—writing—our kids do this several ways, but one of the ways we do it are my wife’s Write Through the Bible workbooks.
Check out our long-awaited Write Through the Bible, Junior workbook! With Write Through the Bible, Junior, you can complete several subjects at once. This curriculum will allow you to teach your child to write, discuss new vocabulary words, dig deep into the Word of God, and memorize a long passage of scripture together.