How to help your children love the Bible in 2021

A new engaging resource for all families

January 5, 2021

Have the challenges, questions, and uncertainties of this past year motivated you to start the next year with a better approach to reading the Bible with your children? January is the time when a lot of Christians try (again) to read through the Bible as a family. But it’s not always an easy task. What’s a good approach to reading the Bible to children? 

We’ve heard lots of suggestions about how to do this. Years ago a pastor friend said simply, “start reading in Genesis 1:1 and just keep going.” He believed the best approach was the direct one. “Just read the text,” he said. We decided to try it. But as we encountered the stories of Abel’s murder, Abraham’s polygamy, Lot’s incest, and later, the moral madness of Judges 19, among others, we didn’t always feel equipped to explain the meaning of the text (Neh. 8:8). Then we ran into the well-known mid-March malaise that can affect even seasoned Bible readers after spending weeks-upon-weeks in Leviticus and Numbers. Add to that our restless toddlers and before long, we found ourselves floundering.

“You need a children’s version of the Bible,” others said, recommending books full of bold, colorful, even artistic illustrations of Bible stories. They were fun to look at with all their graphic art but often contained too little actual Bible. For example, the whole time we were reading through Acts (28 chapters), our youngest child was stuck on two pages. All his storybook Bible included from Acts was a short retelling of Paul’s shipwreck off the island of Malta (and there was nothing from the Epistles).

Other friends expressed frustration with a hit-or-miss approach––reading a Psalm or a Proverb here, a parable there––admitting they were sabotaged by their over-busy schedules and easily distracted offspring. Is there a better way?

A better way to read the Bible with children? 

When author Sally Michael was a young mom, she found herself frustrated with the shallowness of materials written for children. To make up for the lack, she would add to her Bible story reading. “I stopped and asked some questions,” she said, “I pushed them to think critically to discover the implications of what we read and to apply it to their lives.” Eventually, she decided to write the kind of book she wasn’t able to find. 

More Than a Story: Old Testament is the first of the two-volume set she’s written to help children explore the message of the Bible, with their parents, in a comprehensive and engaging way. Each chapter includes large amounts of actual biblical text, key Christian doctrines, realistic illustrations, and discussion questions to start conversations with children about the meaning of the stories and how to apply them. 

As we embark on a new year, let us pray that God will open his Word to our children and that he will open their eyes to behold the wonderful things it contains (Psa. 119:18).

Unlike many children’s story Bibles, More Than a Story shows children the problem of sin against a holy God. “Most children’s and Bible story books don’t teach children their plight,” Michael says, “because we don’t want children to feel uncomfortable. But I want them to feel uncomfortable because I want them to be driven to the cross so that they can be saved!” 

She attributes her approach to her former pastor, John Piper, who says, “You have to know your plight before you can recognize the rescue.” It is only with the realization of the very bad news about sin, that the very good news of salvation makes sense. 

Sally has been instrumental in my view of mothering as primarily a discipleship vocation, and I’ve long admired her ability to make massive biblical truths accessible to children. In More Than a Story, the Bible stories are both well-told and faithful to the original text. It also contains stories that other children’s Bibles tend to skip over. It’s written for children to understand, but not dumbed down; it’s age-appropriate, but doesn’t skip over big truths about God, his wisdom for living in a confusing age, and his unfolding plan of redemption. 

Michael wrote this book for parents, grandparents, and Sunday School teachers to help them introduce children to the big God of the Bible. She says her hope is that God will use this Bible storybook “to lead children to The Book––to give them a desire to read the Bible and know its author; to put their faith in Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sin and the fulfillment of all of His promises toward them, even eternal life.” Her prayer is that this and coming generations of children “might become mighty oaks of righteousness standing firm against the onslaught of untruth in this age.” 

I’m planning to read More Than a Story with our younger two sons in 2021 (the New Testament will be released in the fall). Even though they’re older than the target age, the content enriched my soul as I read it, and I’m 50! 

We can’t save our children. It is God who gives them new hearts and causes them to believe. But he works through means. He creates parents and charges them with the responsibility for teaching his Word to their children (Deut. 6:6-7). As we embark on a new year, let us pray that God will open his Word to our children and that he will open their eyes to behold the wonderful things it contains (Psa. 119:18). 

Make 2021 the year that you prioritize reading God’s Word to your children. Read it with them for their everlasting joy. And yours.

Candice Watters

Candice Watters is the Fighter Verses blog editor. She is a wife and mom, and author of Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help it Happen, and co-author with her husband Steve of Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies. The Watterses have four children and are passionate about … Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24