When my oldest son was three years old, I got a major wake-up call as a Christian mama. He had been listening to a Scripture set to music for a few weeks. The music was catchy and not annoying like some kids’ music can be. We were both enjoying it greatly. I asked him which song was his favorite and he quickly recited an entire Bible verse from memory.
Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. — Jeremiah 33:3
I was shocked! How could a three year old memorize an entire Bible verse when I, at 28 years old, had never done it once it my life?
Before this moment, I thought it would be years before I would start seeing my kids engage in their faith. Like many parents, I assumed things like memory verses and Bible study wouldn’t start happening until at least elementary school. Deep conversations about faith would follow far behind that.
I was wrong. It turns out, it’s never too early to start equipping our children for God’s service. The way in which we prepare them differs by child and by age, but there is no need to wait until they are “old enough” to start.
Let’s look at what this could look like at various ages:
I believe the best way to start equipping our children to serve God is by teaching them the Word of God, and at this age simple Bible songs are a perfect introduction! Psalm 119:11 says,
I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.
When we teach our children scripture, those truths and promises are tucked away in their hearts to help them along their path in life. Song and repetition are the most helpful ways to teach the little ones Bible verses. Even if it doesn’t seem like the Word is changing his or her life right away, remember this promise:
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. — Isaiah 55:10-11
Equipping at this age looks like continuing to build a solid foundation built on the Word, but it also involves a lot of questions. The two keys to this age for me as a parent are open communication and a great study Bible meant for kids. I want my kids to know that I am there to help guide them in their faith journey, but also that the Word is the ultimate source of Truth. In order to be well-equipped to serve God at this age and moving forward, they need a solid home base where questions are welcome and encouraged and where the Bible is opened often. I just love when kids are able to read the scripture for themselves because that is the whole goal – making their faith their own!
A great new study Bible for kids is just coming out and it has all the features to capture your children’s attention and give them the tools they need to live a life of faith and service. The Airship Genesis Kids Study Bible literally turns studying the Bible into a mission full of adventure for kids. My boys and I love how they laid out each book of the Bible as its own “mission,” with a mission overview to lay out the details and purpose of what they are about to read. There are great characters guiding kids through the Bible reports and lessons about key people, word studies, and much more. This might sound similar to other kids’ study Bibles you’ve seen, but Airship Genesis takes it to a whole new level with podcasts and online challenges to further the Bible learning and adventure for kids! If you’re looking to get a study Bible in your elementary age child’s hands that they will really connect with, the Airship Genesis edition should be on your list!
This is great age to continue with everything you’ve already been doing – Scripture memorization, Bible reading, and discussion – but middle schoolers need to be equipped with boldness and confidence to continue their service to Christ in those tween and early teen years. This confidence doesn’t develop in the same way for all children, but being surrounded by others who are committed to their faith is almost always a help in this area. These relationships can be formed with peers in a youth group setting, but I would also encourage friendships with other Christian families where your child can be encouraged by the faith of people of all ages.
A mentor of mine once told me it is always good to have fellowship with someone who is newer in her faith than you, someone who is at a similar place with her faith as you, and someone who is more mature in her faith than you. Middle school is a great time to start helping your child develop these relationships where they can encourage someone, relate with someone, and learn from someone.
When I was a youth volunteer at our church, I loved getting into Bible studies with the high school kids. They knew a lot of the basics of faith, but by this point of their lives, decisions were getting more complicated and truth was a lot more fuzzy. During the high school years, it is more important than ever for kids to really know what they believe and why. High school kids will get more questions from peers about their faith. These questions could be out of curiosity or they could be hostile, but either way, we want our kids to be able to answer with confidence and Bible study can equip them for this. Find out if your church has weekly Bible study for high school kids or do one with your child at home!
When we talk about equipping our child for God’s service, this is the verse that comes to my mind:
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect… – 1 Peter 3:15
The Word of God is the main tool for equipping our child in this way, but we must not forget to always encourage kindness, love, and respect in all interactions. Our child may know the Word and be ready to defend his faith, but if his words and actions are not full of God’s love, they will not have the same power. Equip them with scripture, but also equip them with the desire to love God and love other people well from the beginning – it’s never too early!
How early did you introduce your kids to Scripture? What are methods you used to introduce or strengthen their understanding of God’s Word? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!