At Spring Harvest 2015 we did a session on Engaging with the Bible as a Family.  Below are the slides and some fuller notes and references to other resources.

We began with this reminder from Deuteronomy 6:6-9, where Moses challenges the people of Israel to engage with God's word in their everyday lives.  Scripture is not just for Sundays, Bible Studies and Quiet Times - every place in our house has potential to engage with the Bible!  As families we can find creative ways to chat about God's Word together, to remind one another of it, to go deeper into it.

One simple way is to read the Bible as a bedtime story.  It can take a bit of digging to find re-tellings of scripture that can compete with the Gruffalo (or whatever your child's favourite is) in story-telling and illustrations.  We demoed Bob Hartman's fantastic 'Dinner in the Lion's Den', but we also like 'Stories Jesus Told' by Nick Butterworth and Mick Inkpen, Tiny Bear's Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones (good for smaller kids, rhymes) and Vicki Howie's Open the Door Easter flap-book.  If you have further ideas please suggest them in the comments section below!

Next we talked about playing scripture.  On a weekly basis we gather with two other families with similar age children, to try and do prayer, Bible and fellowship together.  One of the most successful activities has been 'playing' Bible stories - for example, we built a 'Wall of Jericho' out of Duplo and had the children march around it.  We've also made

  • a Jesus doll out of a Barbie-sized character and have him interact with other toys (good for Gospel stories);
  • used a pirate ship to play Paul in the storm (you could also do Noah, Jonah, the disciples in the storm);
  • put tents up in the garden to explore the OT festival of Tabernacles; and
  • every Christmas we get out the playmobile nativity set!  

Kids process life through playing, and this stuff stops an unhealthy divide between spiritual stuff and fun.

Our dining room table is the place where the paints, pens and craft stuff comes out.  Lots of the Bible is ripe for visual interpretation, as it gets your imagination going with colours and pictures.  We had a go at interpreting Revelation 21 using pens and paper, but you could take many other passages from the Bible and process them through art.

Our Engage with God Creative Journals have lots of ideas for this - for example the Palm Sunday page of the Lent Journal.

Sara demonstrated a kind of Bible reflection that you can do by quietening down in a cosy corner somewhere.  It is called Lectio Divina, and it involves reading the passage a number of times and asking God to speak to you through it.  We used play-dough to help focus our attention and keep our hands still.  You could develop this however you like.

Our friends at BIG Ministries are experts at the interactive Bible story - encouraging the listener to join in with sounds and movement at 'trigger' words in the story.  You can get hold of tons of their resources on their website.  We've also done an interactive version of the story of Mary in our Advent Creative Journal.

The Kitchen is a great place to be reminded that God made us with 5 senses - touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight.  Making use of these can really bring Scripture to life!  For example, if you are reading about Jesus being the 'bread of life', why not have a go at making bread for yourself?  There is a recipe for simple rolls on page 12 of our Creative Journal volume 2.

Other ideas for multi-sensory Bible engagement:

  • Hold mustard seeds to see just how little faith we need (Matt 17:20)
  • Taste honey to see how sweet God's words are (Ps 19:10)
  • Drink ice-water and think about how God refreshes us (John 7:38)
  • Listen to a recording of a storm as you think of the disciples on the boat (Matt 8:25)

Thanks for reading this - please do add your own ideas in the comments section below!