By Emma Danzey, Crosswalk.com
If I were to ask you to tell me all of the Bible verses and stories that you remember off of the top of your head, what would you say? Would the majority of these be from recent study or childhood? Although everyone’s stories are different, many of us grew up learning about Jesus and the Bible from our parents and our churches. Perhaps you were in a Christian school where there was an entire class dedicated to Scripture memory? As much as I dreaded those quizzes sometimes, I have God’s Word hidden in my heart because of them.
Today, we are going to address why Biblical literacy is so important for children.
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The Best Time to Memorize
Making English Fun shares: “Children lay down implicit or automatic memories from birth. Only when the brain develops from ages two to six can children make explicit long-term memories. … Between two and seven years, children’s brains go through a critical period of growth…the child’s brains learn faster than at any other time of life.”
These years are significant for children to “learn to speak, read, and write, and brain development allows for this to happen in more than one language. Another skill is music. Although children and adults can learn a language and music skills later, it will be more challenging.”
How does this connect to Biblical literacy? These years, especially from ages 2-7, are vital to creating a firm foundation of what the gospel is, what the Bible is, teaching Scripture verses, telling Biblical stories, and being creative through songs, art, drama, movement, and experiences that will establish God’s Word in their lives.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” No, this is not a guarantee that your child will accept Christ, however, the message is directly connected to the ways in which God has created our brains. If you are training up that child in the Word, those foundations and memories are going to stick with that child long into adulthood. In fact, when a child hits the age of 7, they are approaching the same memorization capabilities as an adult!
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The Power of Song
Think back to VBS, your favorite church songs, or that Bible verse song that you can always sing. For me, I know the fruit of the Spirit by heart because I learned a song about it in the 2nd grade. I can always go back to that song as I am quoting or trying to remember.
I remember “The B-I-B-L-E yes that’s the book for me. I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E.” Or let’s not forget “Jesus Loves Me” and “This Little Light of Mine.” Songs that seem simplistic have such rich meaning.
I used to nanny for a young girl who was only 2 years old. We would practice her preschool Bible verse memory songs together. John 3:16 was a fun one that she loved to do, and now she is 8 years old and we still reference that song together.
Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
When we realize that nothing we ever teach to or share with a child will ever be more important than the gospel and God’s holy Word, it motivates us to be talking about it in our daily lives, to be singing it with the children around us, and to be sharing personal testimonies of the work of the Lord in our lives and around the world.
Psalm 104:33 says, “I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live."
In the hardest of days, children can sing God’s Word to help them. In adulthood we can use the gift of music to worship and praise by using our voices to sing our God’s truth.
Acts 16:25 says, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.”
The Impact of Story
Children love a good story. Jesus spent a lot of his time telling stories (or parables) as word pictures for His lessons. He also welcomes children many times in the New Testament. When children are learning about God as Creator, Savior, and Spirit, it is so helpful to teach them about His character and love through story telling. First and foremost we must use the real historical stories of the Bible, then our own personal testimonies.
I think back to the lessons I learned from others through the stories of Adam and Eve, Jonah and the whale, Moses, queen Esther, king David, the 12 disciples, the crucifixion, the resurrection, Acts, and all of Jesus’ life story as told in Matthew-John. These stories can be applied to our own lives and remind us of God’s work in our own stories. We can train up children and remind them that God has a special and unique story for them as well, and He is writing it every day.
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Never Too Young to Start
Are you pregnant? Did you just have a baby? My husband and I started reading Bible stories over our son from the Jesus Storybook Bible in the womb. We have sung Christian songs over him and now that he is 6 months old, we have spent many days singing along to Bible verse songs and reading stories. Sometimes this feels like he is barely retaining anything, yet these are the most important things we can be doing with him. We are investing in his young mind.
Deuteronomy 6:5-9 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
In every moment, we can find a way to invite the Holy Spirit to use the things around us and the opportunities of growth and learning in our homes to teach our children and other children about the love of Jesus and the purpose that they have been given in Him. May we remember that the foundation is the most significant part of a house. If we neglect this firm foundation with the next generation of believers, the future church will not be strong against attacks of the enemy. This all starts with children.
In thinking about the many attempts to transform the minds negatively in our culture today, the target audience is young children. This is no accident. The enemy knows that if he can sweep the little ones and cause confusion, chaos, and evil, then he can establish instability and future destruction. We need to take this seriously and go to spiritual battle for the future generations.
Jesus is always on the throne, but He is sitting down at the right hand of God the Father because He has accomplished His part on the cross and in His resurrection. It is now our turn to run the race with the help of His Holy Spirit, who is moving and reaching as many people with the gospel so they may know of the hope, forgiveness, and eternal freedom they can have through Jesus. Thank you God for Your transforming Word.
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