There are a number of Bible verses which describe our new desires and motivation when we are decided to be “in Christ” – when we have a living and vibrant relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ! This is why Christians love to grow in their relationship with God and learn more from His Word – studying the Bible with true joy!
It isn’t about getting a “good education” by studying a great piece of literature – it’s about getting to know the Author. It isn’t about memorizing lists of things we must do to earn God’s favour – it’s about growing in grace and expressing our gratefulness to the One Who has mercifully paid for our failures and sinful choices and we, in turn, seek to give Him first place in our attitudes, words, and actions (even though we continue to sometimes disappoint, fail, and come back 1John 1:9). It isn’t about making Bible teaching something on a “to do” checklist – it’s about delighting in the opportunities we have to share more about our wonderful God to people and committing to take the time for something really worthwhile!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”1 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)
“…just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4b (NKJV)
“But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” Romans 7:6 (NKJV)
Some people like to simply go through a portion of the Scripture (or a topic together using reference tools) for Bible time – without a written plan. That is very good too and it is one of my favourite methods of teaching the Bible to our children at home. You can see more about that at this post.
But the purpose of today’s post is to provide more ideas for parents, Christian school teachers, and children’s ministry leaders who’d like to prayerfully plan something on paper, to outline a lesson plan, to organize this differently, at least for part of the year.
Here are some of options you might like to try:
1. Start at Creation and go chronologically through the entire Bible. First the entire Old Testament, then the New Testament. (This is a great method for older children or adults but seems long for the preschoolers.) A number of curriculum companies produce excellent materials for this option.
2. A similar plan is to take a “Book-by-Book” approach which is to start at chapter 1 and follow it through in numerical order to the end. Then, a different section/book (not necessarily the next book of the Bible) would be studied.
3. Sometimes people want to go “through the entire Bible” within a specific period of time (e.g. a year, 2 years). Some plans are more chronological (and some provide references to go Book-by-Book instead).
One Theme or Topic at a Time
Just pick and choose a variety of stories along a theme such as the character of God (e.g. love, protection, justice, sovereignty, etc.). I find this approach is quite good with preschoolers. But, if you also have older children who would like a more chronological style and are teaching them together with the littles, a whole year of picking and choosing passages to study can feel somewhat scattered.
Topical studies can be good for a multi-grade discussion but not as helpful if you have tiny tots who want a story to draw about rather than a topic, say, about how to best use our tongue or about various proverbs. It can be hard for them to draw proverbs compared to Bible stories. Topical studies can be self-designed by using a concordance or a topical reference tool to find applicable verses and passages.
Over many years, my aunt (a gifted, long-time Christian worker in Evangelical Missionary churches) has often organized VBS (Vacation Bible School) programs for her church(es) or camps where she has taught. She encourages the team to prayerfully choose a Bible-based theme or topic to plan for VBS and then use their Bible study skills, memory of Bible stories, and reference tools (e.g. a concordance) to come up with the number of lessons needed. Then build the visuals and crafts and games around that outline. Example: Trees – 5 stories which include trees in the Bible, one for each day – start at the Garden of Eden story and finish either with a story about the Tree of Life in heaven or with the tree/cross that Jesus died on and a salvation message. Example: Angels – 5 stories which teach truths about angels from the Bible, both from the O.T. and the N.T.. An important point of teaching topically like she has done: the topics and themes come from the Bible, and not “everyday life”. She felt that this helps to keep the emphasis on learning the Bible rather than putting so much time and energy into other types of popular themes. (BTW, going to VBS with her when I was a kid was really a lot of fun!)
Just “Familiar” Stories
Start at Creation and go chronologically through the Old Testament until the end of Moses or David and then skip over to the New Testament except perhaps Daniel and Jonah, ignoring other Old Testament lessons until “sometime later”.
Morning and Evening Tracks
Some families might choose, for example, Old Testament stories in the morning with “mom leading” and New Testament in the evening with “dad leading” – simultaneously following along 2 timelines so-to-speak.
A similar idea is to follow along in 2 separate devotionals or use a devotional in the morning and a different track of readings in the evening.
Another similar idea is to have personal Bible time in the morning (or evening) and family Bible time in the evening (or morning). That means that each child/teen/adult has a levelled resource to compliment their own Bible studies (i.e. written at an appropriate level).
(a free printable at this post) Start at Creation and go to the Ten Commandments. Then to the Christmas story, then to John 3 and the gospel. John 3 also mentioned Moses so then go back to continue O.T. stories along with insights from the N.T. throughout the remaining studies – all the way to the end of the N.T..
Ages/Stages Take Turns Having Lessons Geared to Them
Some parents gear family Bible time to the various ages/stages in their home, choosing to focus more on teaching one of the age groups, not all groups each time, even though everyone is included.
- This might look like a series or devotional book geared to the older age group (with the younger ones listening in) followed by a series of lessons geared to the younger age group (with the older ones listening it).
- Or this might look like certain days of the week are geared towards a younger stage of topics/lessons while other days of the week are more so designed with the older stage of kids/teens in mind.
For the parents, children’s ministry leaders, or Christian school teachers who like more complex or creative plans, here are a few more ideas:
The “I Can’t Decide Between So Many Good Things To Teach” Variety Outline
(Permission granted to use this outline for non-commercial, ministry purposes.)
This outline could also be used on Sundays (once a week) instead of within the 5-day/week cycles.
Choose ONE topical lesson or Bible story for each day’s emphasis:
- God Is! Praise Him for a specific character trait (e.g. His power, His omnipresence, His justice, His love, etc.) and illustrate the lesson with an example and set of verses from Scripture. Emphasis: worship
- God Made! Choose one specific thing that God made and find out what the Bible says about it (or the general type of thing that it is, for example, zebra- animals). Emphasis: discovery
- God Did! The Bible reports many events and works of what God did. History (both general history and personal history) show God at work in our world too. Choose to learn more about something that God has done. Emphasis: seeing God’s care and mercy throughout all generations
- God Says! There is much instruction in the Word of God. Choose to discuss what the Gospel is, wisdom, commands/principles, proverbs for how to live a life of honour and service to our God and Saviour, etc.! Emphasis: instruction
- God Will! God has a plan for the future. His promises are trustworthy. He cares for us today too! Choose to learn more about a promise or prophecy found in Scripture. Emphasis: the promises and comfort of God
A “Themes and Skills” Example Outline
This is an example of taking learning themes or skills and giving them an emphasis on a certain day each week:
Daily Prayer Time: This pattern is indicated in a sermon by Ian Leitch that I heard online about his personal prayer book. (Note: It was preached at Moody Church, Chicago a number of years ago but the video is not currently working on the website I watched it from so while I’m acknowledging my source, I’m not linking to it at present.)
- Praise God for His ___ (characteristics – Who He is, What He’s done).
- Ask for own growth: related to Scripture reading.
- Pray for 1-3 ministries/people.
- Pray for family.
- Pray for specific situations.
(Permission granted to use this outline below for non-commercial, ministry purposes.)
Monday: Hiding Them In My Heart: Bible Verse Memorization
- Verse to trace or colour or look up and highlight in Bible
- Sticker rewards, etc.
- Occasional games (e.g. Bible Memory Verse Match, erase words, sequence words in order, categorize into topics, make special plaques, etc.)
- Could use D.W.Emke artwork (KJV) as memory cards (click here for info about the complete set we offer for sale) or as rewards (example: Psalm 121 in full-colour or black and white)
- Possible Additional Topic: What is God’s Word? (Learning about the Bible, how it was written, scrolls, translated, the canon, etc.)
Tuesday: Wise Builders on the Rock! (Obeying, Serving the Lord)
- Discussion, cross-referencing
- Possible worksheets or colouring page
- Possible Topics: Examples of Bible Characters, Commands to Obey, Missions/Evangelism, Bee ___, diligence, serving with love, wisdom, conflict management, Fruit of the Spirit, etc.
Wednesday: Talking to God (teaching about prayer)
- Possible worksheets or copywork
- Monthly summary page (optional)
Thursday: Two groups separate for part of the time and then all together for the time remaining.
Younger Group: Draw (or Colour A Page or Arrange Felts of) Bible Stories
- In a workbook/colouring book OR
- Pictorial Bible History Cards OR
- Quarter–a-page style (fold a page into 4 and draw 4 stories or 4 parts of a larger story in each “box”)
- Betty Luken’s Felts (not sold by us) can be a way to engage little hands to retell a Bible story. They also have produced a CD with printable coloring pages and puzzles for the various stories they focus on with their materials (also, not sold by us).
Older Group: Optional Ministry Prep Time (puppetry, object lessons, preparing to teach Sunday School, etc.)
All Together: Reading the Bible and praying together
Friday: Praise the LORD! God’s Character and Works (Praise and Worship Theme)
- Provide a “Music Basket” to listen to (tapes, CDs…)
- Optional theme-based list cards where students make lists on a page (e.g. God is more powerful than…, Thank You for winter things such as…)
A Simpler Version of the Above Outline
Monday – Bible Story #1 (from whatever list of Bible stories you want to teach)
Tuesday – Scriptural principles (e.g. from a Christian character education perspective) OR Bible Story # 2
Wednesday – Teaching about Prayer and a relationship/friendship with God
Thursday – Bible Story # 2 (or #3, depending on what you did on Tuesday)
Friday – lessons on the books of the Bible which aren’t as much of a narrative, for example, going through Isaiah, Psalms, Job, Ephesians, etc.
May we echo with the Psalmist –
“How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
Psalm 119:103 (NKJV)