Ever since I read Brian Croft’s post on pastoring our children, I’ve felt convicted by how little or how irregularly I’ve followed up with my children’s own Bible reading. That conviction was deepened by a conversation I had recently with a father who told me that his six-year-old daughter had completed the McCheyne Bible reading plan last year.We do have family devotions morning and evening at which we sing, pray, read a passage of Scripture and discuss it. We expect the children to read the Bible and pray before breakfast and before bedtime. I do regularly ask my two boys and two girls, “Have you read your Bible and prayed today?” And, when I remember, I do ask them, “What did you read today?” However I don’t feel I’ve sufficiently guided them on what to read, or how much to read, or checked if they have read or understood what they read. That’s not good enough. So I’ve started a very simple scheme of Bible reading for my children, and I thought I would share it, because I suspect many Christian fathers (and mothers) feel the same guilt as I do. Perhaps others can use it or adapt it to their own situation. I’ll post it ahead of every week, and I’ll set it out so that it can be printed double-sided on one folded page to fit inside a Bible (download here). 1. Brevity. I want this to be do-able. It is more important to be reading small chunks of Scripture regularly than setting the bar too high and failing. Of course I wish my children wanted to read Scripture more, but if I can get them to spend 5 minutes with the Bible, morning and evening, then I will be happy. And hopefully they will develop a growing appetite for it themselves. 2. Variety. I chose Old Testament in the morning and New Testament in the evening. I also want to vary between narrative, poetry, practical, etc. However as my two girls are only 8 and 7, the emphasis will be more on the stories of the Bible. 3. Simplicity. The pattern is a few verses for reading, and either a verse to write out or a question to answer in the morning and evening. I’ve added a couple of extra questions for the Saturday reading that are a bit more personal and applicatory? 4. Accountability. Although this system is to help me be more accountable, I also want to make my children accountable. That’s why I ask them to write a verse and an answer a day. And its also why I ask them to bring me their work at least weekly, and try to have a brief discussion with each of them. It’s aimed at 8 to 10-year-olds, and what I’ve said to my two teenage boys is that they should look on this as a minimum. I’ve encouraged them to continue their own present reading. 5. Unity. One advantage of this is that we will all be reading in the same part of the Bible (my wife and I included). Whatever else we read, we will all have read these verses as a minimum. That means we can all talk about the same passage of Scripture at meals, etc. I hope this will give our family a spiritual unity as we journey on together. All this has to be bathed in prayer if it is to be a permanent change and if it is to be a blessed change. I don’t want it to degenerate into a legalistic exercise where the daily and weekly routine just becomes a boring drudging “ought-to.” However, God does use the reading of Scripture to make sinners wise unto salvation. My hope and prayer is that eventually my children, and all our children, will no longer read because of external pressure or habit, but because they want to, because they have a passion for the Christ that the Scriptures testify of.
Update (Monday 11.20 am): for some reason the Posterous link with Scribd is not working at times today. But in the meantime you can download the pdf here.